LEAP Foundation DC 2019: A Few Highlights

It has been an incredible year for LEAP Foundation DC, with our mission to “bridge the gap between hope and achievement” successfully being accomplished for the 10th year in a row. As we celebrate our silver anniversary and welcome all that the new year has to offer, we’re happy to share a few highlights of the many amazing achievements LEAP has championed in 2019. In addition, we invite you to enjoy a 10-year anniversary video, including a recent interview on 95.5FM WPGC’s Community Focus, by clicking here.

Scholarships and recognitions

It has been a pleasure to award several scholarships to local youth who continue on the path to reaching their educational dreams.

In March, we awarded a $200 scholarship grant in support of the endeavors of Lacy Simone Jones, who was a contestant of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated Jabberwock Program, Rising Stars (Smart, Talented, Ambitious, Resilient & Second-to-None).

In April, we held our annual scholarship ceremony, which was hosted at the Embassy of El Salvador, where we awarded three scholarships:

Daniel Urbano-Campusano – A $500 scholarship intended to assist in his educational endeavors as he graduated from Friends Community School and looked forward to becoming a freshman at DeMatha Catholic High School, Hyattesville, Md.

Drai Faulk – A $1,000 scholarship for Drai, who was preparing to study theater arts and technical theater management at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, Tallahassee, Fla.

Aristides Boanerge Escobar – A $1,000 scholarship that would assist in Aristides’ journey toward graduation from New York University College of Arts & Science, New York City, where he has been recognized for his academic successes while on the pre-health track.

In May, Dr. Clayton Lawrence, president and CEO, had the pleasure of attending the Washington Ballet Gala at which LEAP awarded a $1,200 scholarship in support of the hard work and dedication of students studying dance.

In June, LEAP awarded a $500 scholarship for Michael David James II, a Port Towns student who, according to Assistant Principal Jamel Kimbro, has demonstrated a strong ability to perform well in his academic endeavors in both reading and math.

Maximizing outreach

It is an honor to strengthen our mission by joining others in the fight against childhood obesity and disease prevention. The mentorship programs offered at LEAP Foundation DC are often geared toward helping youth in DC and the surrounding areas find ways to improve their education, stay healthy both mentally and physically, and commit to staying on track for a positive future. Through our dedication to marathon sports, we have raised funds for local, national and global charities that recognize the importance of presenting opportunities for youth and adults to achieve overall health and wellness. In addition, it remains a priority for LEAP Foundation DC to strengthen its global leadership by extending its impact beyond U.S. borders, as demonstrated in several overseas achievements below. It was an honor to have this commitment recognized by Vice President Mike Pence, who greeted Dr. Clayton Lawrence upon his return from the Berlin Marathon.

Here are just a few of the organizations that we supported in 2019, while Dr. Lawrence completed his 120th marathon:

Mentor Me India (Mumbai Marathon) – Mentor Me India creates brighter futures for disadvantaged youth by empowering the children from low-income groups through mentorship with strong adult role models.

Students Run LA (Los Angeles Marathon) – Students Run LA challenges at-risk secondary students to experience the benefits of goal-setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health by providing them with a truly life-changing experience: the training for and completion of the Los Angeles Marathon.

Team for Kids (Brooklyn Half Marathon) – Team for Kids is another youth program fighting childhood obesity by encouraging youth to be physically active through running in New York State.

Smile Train (Berlin Marathon) – Smile Train treats cleft lip and palate to prevent the complications to eating, breathing, hearing, and speaking these youth would otherwise experience.

Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation (San Francisco Marathon) – Improves the treatment, quality of life and the long-term outlook for children with brain and spinal cord tumors through research, support, education and advocacy to families and survivors.

American Association of Cancer Research (Philadelphia Marathon) – The American Association for Cancer Research is on the front lines of the quest for new and innovative ways to understand, prevent, and cure cancer. The group brings together the greatest minds in cancer science to defeat the more than 200 types of cancer.

American Institute for Cancer Research (Paris Marathon) – The American Institute for Cancer Research, which is associated with the World Cancer Research Fund, provides funding for research that focuses on the links between diet, physical activity and weight management to cancer prevention and survivorship.

Sew N’ Know

It was another successful year for the Recreation Wish List Committee’s Sew N’ Know program, which offers youth the opportunity to gain a life skill while exploring the industry of fashion design. The hard work of the “Runway Youngins” came to life at the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center and LEAP was pleased to provide a $750 grant in support of this valuable program.

I GOT LEGS

Dr. Clayton Lawrence was truly inspired by fellow LA marathoner Adam Gorlitsky. The former track and field runner was robbed of his ability to walk following a car crash nearly 14 years ago, but he remains determined to take back control. Not only has he participated in several races over the past four years, he founded an organization, I GOT LEGS, in 2016 that would “ReEnable people with physical challenges by providing opportunities, programs, and grants that unlock an improved quality of life.” LEAP provided a $1,000 grant to the nonprofit to assist in meeting its mission.

STEM for the Streets

LEAP recognized the success of STEM for the Streets with a $400 grant and applauds LEAP Foundation DC scholar Kevin Akers, who continues to co-lead the program, which recognizes the importance of making science, technology, engineering and math an exciting part of the daily lives of young people. Students who participate in the program enjoy hands-on activities with guest speakers, such as Dr. Clayton Lawrence, as well as scientists, engineers and other professional support.

Voices for a Second Chance

Voices for a Second Chance recognized its 50th anniversary with a special dinner that allowed the group to pay tribute to outstanding leaders who help make a difference in the community, including Dr. Bahiyyah M. Muhammad, assistant professor, Howard University; Nick Cannon, entertainer, activist and philanthropist; and The Hon. David Trone, Congressman, 6th District of Maryland. The organization aims to “improve outcomes for currently incarcerated and returned justice-involved men and women.” LEAP provided a $1,000 grant to this incredible organization.

Public Service Award – Ambassador Dr. Claudia Ivette Canjura de Centeno (El Salvador)

In recognition of the incredible work the Honorable Dr. Claudia Ivette de Centeno completed in her three-year assignment here in the United States, LEAP presented the exiting Ambassador of El Salvador to the United States with its Public Service Award. Established in 2017, the recognition is awarded to an individual who has worked tirelessly on behalf of the community and whose impact affects the population both locally and at a global level.

Suited for Success

We have continued our Suited for Success program, which is designed to teach young men the proper way to dress for things like job and college interviews, as well as assist in the preparation of college applications and serve as a sounding board for the hardships of growing up in the modern world. Seven young men participated in this year’s program, which was hosted at Jos. A. Bank. LEAP scholar Kevin Akers had this to say about programs like Suited for Success: “Nobody teaches you how to be a professional, to operate around people who are successful. All the lessons I’ve learned from Dr. Lawrence, I’m now applying at college.”

95.5FM WPGC Community Focus

Dr. Clayton Lawrence was the featured guest on 95.5FM WPGC’s November 24 Community Focus. Hosted by seasoned broadcaster Guy Lambert – also an unwavering LEAP supporter – the weekly community affairs show highlights people and events of influence in the local community. The interview served as a great opportunity to focus on the value of mentoring underrepresented youth.

Special guest NFL player Ifeanyi “Mo” Momah

As we prepared for our silver anniversary toy drive in December, we were joined by a special guest. NFL player Ifeanyi “Mo” Momah attended our tree trimming ceremony, where he provided inspiration and encouragement for LEAP mentees, while helping the organization prepare for the upcoming annual festivities. It was a pleasure to welcome Mo to our annual Toy Drive, where he provided an autographed football for all youth in attendance. Mo has committed to staying involved with LEAP as we uplift the lives of these young men.

Silver Anniversary Toy Drive

In December, we celebrated our silver anniversary toy drive, once again in collaboration with the Latino Student Fund. LEAP welcomed two adopted families from the LSF, who not only received the generous donations of LEAP supporters, but enjoyed a festive holiday party with attendees. According to Dr. Clayton Lawrence, adopting Latino Student Fund families has been a way for the organization to strengthen the missions of both organizations to bridge the gap between hope and achievement for deserving young people. For the third time, Robert C. White, Jr., At-Large Councilmember of the District of Columbia, represented the city at the Toy Drive. He remains committed to making the community a better place for youth and families, and his involvement with LEAP has served as a testament to his commitment to young people and the underprivileged.