• WE CREATE OPPORTUNITY

  • EMPOWERMENT THROUGH EDUCATION

  • OUR SCHOLARS FLOURISH

We are LEO

A Gateway to Learning and Leading

About

About

Established as a new non-profit organization in August 2015, we serve bright young Palestinians, women and men, Christian and Muslim, from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan by securing and managing scholarships to American colleges and universities. We enhance personal development through guidance and academic mentoring.

Established as a new non-profit organization in August 2015, we serve bright young Palestinians, women and men, Christian and Muslim, from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan by securing and managing scholarships to American colleges and universities. We enhance personal development through guidance and academic mentoring.

Established as a new non-profit organization in August 2015, we serve bright young Palestinians, women and men, Christian and Muslim, from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan by securing and managing scholarships to American colleges and universities. We enhance personal development through guidance and academic mentoring.

Established as a new non-profit organization in August 2015, we serve bright young Palestinians, women and men, Christian and Muslim, from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan by securing and managing scholarships to American colleges and universities. We enhance personal development through guidance and academic mentoring.

Established as a new non-profit organization in August 2015, we serve bright young Palestinians, women and men, Christian and Muslim, from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan by securing and managing scholarships to American colleges and universities. We enhance personal development through guidance and academic mentoring.

Established as a new non-profit organization in August 2015, we serve bright young Palestinians, women and men, Christian and Muslim, from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan by securing and managing scholarships to American colleges and universities. We enhance personal development through guidance and academic mentoring.

Established as a new non-profit organization in August 2015, we serve bright young Palestinians, women and men, from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan by securing and managing scholarships to American colleges and universities. We enhance personal development through guidance and academic mentoring.

As a 501.c.3 charitable educational foundation we work in partnership with U.S. colleges, businesses, host families and relief organizations to make our mission a reality.

Mission

WHAT WE DO?

Scholarships and Guidance for Success.

The LEO Mission

Our mission is to secure and administer valuable undergraduate scholarships and educational opportunities for qualified Palestinian students from the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon and Jordan. We believe that education and intercultural exchange is the essential path to peace, stability and development.

As a 501.c.3 charitable educational foundation we work in partnership with U.S. colleges, businesses, host families and relief organizations to make our mission a reality.

 

What Makes LEO Unique

The LEO process shepherds the development of Palestinian student scholars from the beginning to the end of their American undergraduate education. In addition to our belief in the significance of education, we at LEO also believe in personal development. Through personal guidance, academic mentoring, internships, job placement assistance and graduate school applications, we believe that our scholars will flourish and make significant contributions to the cultural, economic and political fabric of their societies and countries of residence. We are confident that their contributions will lead to a climate of peace, resolution, prosperity and long-term stability.

Working with well poised partners in the region, we start identifying and developing bright and motivated students as early as the 10th grade. We get to know the students and their families early. We gain an understanding of their individual challenges, and we assist them in preparation of a higher education. Students are reviewed by a team of academics and have psychological and medical evaluations before being accepted.

Our personal histories with the students and graduates of predecessor programs provides the unique opportunity for peer mentorship of our students.

How the Process Works

Our partners identify and begin working with bright and qualified youth as early as the 10th grade. They offer support through English language classes and SAT and TOEFL preparation. Mentors assist by guiding the students during the college application process and identifying the appropriate college for the student’s area of study. LEO evaluates the candidates with their partners, and facilitates and manages scholarships and funding from a variety of sources including institutions, individuals and organizations for the benefit of the scholar.

LEO currently does not accept applications directly.

Our Platform

Founding Officers

Meet the team who built the dream

DEYA' LEONARD DRESNER<br />
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Executive Director

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DEYA' LEONARD DRESNER
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

ANDY WOLFE<br />
DEVELOPMENT AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

Development and Public Relations

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ANDY WOLFE
DEVELOPMENT AND PUBLIC RELATIONS

NANCY HARTLESS<br />
DIRECTOR OF STUDENT AFFAIRS & TREASURER

Director of Student Affairs & Treasurer

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NANCY HARTLESS
DIRECTOR OF STUDENT AFFAIRS & TREASURER

Partners

Here are some of the partners we have worked with so far

United Unite Lebanon Youth Project (ULYP) is our partner in Lebanon. They support undergraduate education for Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon. ULYP prepare students for study abroad. LE•O supports ULYP by securing and managing scholarships while shepherding their   scholars while they are in the United States.


Palestinian Mentors is a newly established partner. They are Palestinian college students and graduates, located around the world who mentor, support and guide other young Palestinian scholars.


al nayzak  Al Nayzak optimizes opportunities for high achieving, innovative and distinguished students in Palestine and partners with LEO to secure enrollment in internationally acclaimed universities.


United Thaki is empowering refugee and disadvantaged children to learn and thrive through self-paced, motivational electronic tools.


aisg The American International School in Gaza is guided by its vision & mission to create a proper environment for educational opportunities that serve both the
Palestinians and International communities in Palestine. Multiculturalism, diversity and academic excellence are what make AISG so distinct. AISG revels in its heterogeneity and capitalize on the global benefits from such a diverse understanding of the world.
Students at AISG have an invaluable advantage of being simultaneously immersed in in the rich diverse blend of Arabic & American culture. Together, the academic and cultural education that AISG provides helps to nurture life-long learners and global thinkers.


oipThe Office of International Programs (OIP) in Gaza is an international program that is dedicated to providing personal development through guidance and academic mentoring to students who wish to pursue their undergraduate studies in U.S. universities. It equips participants with the resources and training they need to excel at the SAT and TOEFL tests, write successful college essays, and prepare for admissions interviews.


c2c Challenge to Change is a Swiss Non-Profit Organization founded in 2014 to raise awareness on mental health among women in the Middle East through the sharing of digital content and through running online and on the ground interactive programs.
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cogitoCogito The Cogito Scholarship Foundation is a UK-based charity. The Foundation identifies the brightest teenagers from the poorest communities in the Middle East and North Africa, and gives them scholarships to some of the best academic institutions in the UK. Access to these schools gives them a springboard to the best universities. Like LE•O, Cogito believes that with the right education and opportunities, children from these underprivileged communities can become their countries’ future mentors and leaders. Helping teenagers today, qualifies them to help their countries tomorrow.


LEO Scholars

marah abdin

Freshman Class of 2020

Marah Abdin

I was born to a Palestinian family in the city of Jerusalem. Throughout my life, even though my parents never got the chance to attend college, my two sisters and I have always been raised to put education before anything else and to understand that it is our voice in this world. I have always been interested in technology and the marvelous revolution it has caused, and I had the opportunity to develop this interest at Al Nayzak Organization for Supportive Education and Scientific Innovation. As a result, I am looking forward to pursuing a bachelor degree of science in Computer and Electrical Engineering.

How LE•O Helped:

After self-studying the SATs and with the help of the Leonard Education Organization (LE•O), I was offered a full scholarship to study at the University of Rochester. It was through Al Nayzak organization that I was introduced to LE•O and had this chance. Hopefully, this opportunity will make a great and a very significant change in my life and education.

 

Mohammad Noubani

Mohammad Noubani 

I was born in Lebanon. Family life was very challenging ever since my father left us. I struggled to protect my family, and I fought to excel in my academics while also working as a volunteer teaching younger students in hopes to pursue a higher education on a scholarship. I won a scholarship with the help of ULYP (United Lebanon Youth Project) to study at AUB (American University of Beirut). I was interested in studying neuro-oncology, however due to the lack of facilities and research opportunities in the Biology department for this field I decided to apply as a transfer student to the University of Rochester.

How LE•O Helped:

With the help of LE•O I was able to achieve my goals and received a full scholarship. Rochester has a uniquely organized neuroscience major with a medley of advanced courses in molecular neuroscience that range from neuropharmacology to molecular neurophysiology. The latter courses will prepare me for lab work at Professor Edward Brown’s lab. This opportunity to work will allow me to master the use of advanced laser scanning microscopy to study cancer development. Afterwards, I will implement these techniques to study transport through the blood brain barrier. Rochester’s Meliora extends to my graduate studies, for I am eager to continue my research and apply to Rochester’s MD/PhD program. After my long training, I want to become one of the major researchers in the field of brain cancer, thus longing for a future free of this disease.

 

Wael Haidar

Wael Haidar 

 I was born and raised in the Bourj Al-Barajneh refugee camp in Lebanon. I went to UNRWA schools because my family could not afford a better school. Because I was one of the high achievers, an organization reached out to me and encouraged me to apply to United World Colleges, a prestigious International Baccalaureate high schools chain around the world that offers scholarships for students from different countries and gives them a unique opportunity to live together and learn from each other’s very different backgrounds. I got accepted to UWC India and I spent my 11th and 12th grades there.

After the amazing experience I had in India, I felt that I was ready for my next opportunity, so I applied to Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and to several others like the University of Rochester and University of Florida. I got wonderful offers from all of them. I chose Lehigh for being one of the best in the field I wanted to major.

I am currently a sophomore in Chemical Engineering with a Business minor and Polymer Science and Engineering minor. I am a research assistant in the Chemical Engineering department working alongside a PhD student in her research about catalysts’ production and applications.

How LE•O Helped:

My scholarship to Lehigh was not complete though very generous. LE•O found a donor to support me with the costs of a visa, airline ticket to travel to the U.S., and my tuition balance. The staff at LE•O are in regular contact with me checking on my academic achievements and adjustment to life in the U.S. They have found me a wonderful host family for school breaks; placed me at the American University of Beirut for a summer internship, which allowed me some time at home with my family; picked me up at airports; and LE•O makes sure I have all that I need.

 

Yazan Meqbil 

“My name is Yazan Meqbil. I was recently accepted at Goshen College, Indiana and will enter this Fall. After I had graduated from high school, I quickly decided that I wanted to study engineering. However, after I had taken a gap year and profoundly considered my experiences, I decided to double major in both Engineering and International studies. I did not want to choose one major and leave the other one and regret it in the future, so I decided it would be best for me to combine both degrees from different fields. This is resembling of my passion for education. I took general courses at Ivy Tech, with the hope of preparing myself academically and socially to transfer to a four-year college.

There are multiple reasons that boost my passion for education. My background is perhaps my most powerful driving force. I am a Palestinian refugee who lives in area C, which is under complete Israeli authority, next to an Israeli settlement. For years, my family has continuously been threatened that our house would be demolished. Thus far, we have received 10 demolition orders to our house. With this harsh political reality and even harsher economic circumstances, I am gifted with parents who share my passion for education. My father, who lost his education due to the first Palestinian uprising, always presses the value of education. My mother was also unable to continue her education due to her family financial situation. They planted this profound love for education in me, as if I embody both of their dreams; as if me, continuing my education is a fulfillment of all they ever desired.  This passion towards education helped me keep high grades that gave me the chance to stay the first in my class till 11th grade. My academic excellence gave me the chance to represent my school in different events. I was also selected for English Access Microscholarship program back in 2010. I stayed on the honors list at my different schools for seven years.

Education for me is not restricted to the classroom. Since I was a little kid, I had a passion toward leadership training, speeches and summer camps. I genuinely liked meeting new people. I consequently participated in different summer camps in Palestine, which helped develop my personality and offered me the platforms to voice my own struggle and story. In 2012 I spent one week in an extensive leadership program funded by ActionAid Denmark. They helped fund me to form “Local association for youth-Beit Ommar,” which focused on empowering teenagers and giving them enough skills to be effective leaders and help their own communities. All of those experiences helped me make the decision to apply to Seeds of Peace Summer Camp in the United States, which I attended in 2013.

I chose to pursue my bachelor’s degree in the United States for many reasons. First, this will offer me the opportunity to pursue a double-major. When it comes to international studies, many American colleges are leading institutions. Second, I am always introduced to new experiences, perspectives, networks, and even books, which help me shape the person I want to be. Upon graduating from high school with a 92.3% average, I decided to take a year off to prepare myself, academically and socially, to study in the U.S. After fighting to secure enough funds to pay for my TOEFL and SAT preparatory exams, I could not secure enough funds and scholarships to come to a four-year college. Considering our financial hardships, my parents cannot cover any of my education’s costs. Eventually, with overwhelming help from many people, I secured enough funds to travel to the U.S. and start attending Ivy-Tech Community College. During my gap year, I worked hard in different jobs to secure some money to pay for my summer semester’s tuition.

How LE•O Helped:

LE•O offered me the opportunity to apply to a four-year college to continue my studies in the U.S. They arranged my finances and scholarships. I am grateful for their support and guidance. Through LE•O I have a mentor assigned to help me with my college applications and now I am moving into my next step in my education.

Service Recipients

fakeer

Ahmad is a 2016 Service Recipient

Ahmad Al-Fakeer My name is Ahmad Al-Fakeer, a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon. I finished the International Baccalaureate program at Red Cross Nordic United World College in Norway. I got accepted with a full scholarship at Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina. In my freshman year at Methodist University, I was not fully focused on studying, I spent a lot of time playing sports and socializing with people. I did not meet the required GPA to keep my full scholarship, so I lost a portion of it. 
In my sophomore year, I paid more attention to studying and focusing in classes to increase my GPA and return my scholarship. I thought after I get my scholarship back I don’t have to pay the money I lost, but I actually had to. I had to look for scholarships or people that could help me pay the debt. I started asking people about scholarships, and one of the people told me, “I might know someone who could help you.” He said, “Try the founder of Leonard Education Organization. Why don’t you add her on Facebook and tell her your story.”

How LE•O Helped:

I contacted Deya’ and she told me about Leonard Education Organization (LE•O). It is an organization that helps Palestinian students from Gaza, Lebanon, West Bank, and Jordan with undergraduate scholarships and education opportunities. After I told Deya’ my story, she was very helpful and told me, “We are going to help you because we see that you improved your grades and you are working hard.”
Without the help of LE•O and the donor they found, I would not have been able to graduate and receive my diploma, with a GPA of 3.34. I will be grateful for LE•O and will do my best to support this organization in the future. I never lost hope in this world because I know there are people that still think about helping others and making some people’s lives better. I want to thank LE•O not only for helping me, but for helping all Palestinian students that are looking for education opportunities and undergraduate scholarships to have a better future.

Christo

Christo is a 2015 Service Recipient

Christo Tarazi is a Palestinian student from Gaza City. After completion of his secondary education, Christo came to the United States to begin his undergraduate education at Hartwick College, New York. In May 2014, Christo graduated with distinction from Hartwick College with a major in economics. Currently, Christo is pursuing a PhD in Economics from the State University of New York at Binghamton. 

How LE•O Helped:

After completion of his bachelor’s degree, Christo needed to gain work experience that was essential to begin graduate studies in the United States. Deya’ was among many who helped Christo obtain this experience and consequently pursue his dream of a higher education. With a friend’s support, Christo was able to secure an internship in Washington DC. The high cost of living in DC, however, was a major obstacle. Anxious about losing the internship and consequently the ability to pursue a graduate degree, Christo reached out to Deya’ and LE•O for help. Without hesitation, Deya’ worked relentlessly to find Christo a host family in DC. After much effort, Deya’ connected Christo with a host family who opened their home for Christo for five months until the start of his graduate program.

 

Israa Issa

Israa is a 2015 Service Recipient

Israa Issa, is a senior Mechanical Engineer major (BE, 2016) at the American University of Beirut (AUB). Growing up in an extraordinary family, with all the struggles of being a Palestinian refugee, taught her how to do it herself by fully concentrating on her academic background and achievements to reach the top university in the Middle East. Knowing that her family can’t afford such an elite university, she earned a full-four year scholarship to AUB. In the fall of 2014, Israa became a Math and Physics tutor at AUB.

Israa interned at the Center for Collision Safety and Analysis at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia (USA) in summer 2015. She has learned how to reverse engineer physical components using a laser scanner and Altair Hypermesh software. The next step in her life is to do her graduate studies in the Design of Engines starting in the fall of 2017. Her current research for the year of 2015–2016 is Multi-dimensional Model Analysis of Human Arterial System at the American University of Beirut. 

How LE•O Helped:

“I was unable to afford housing in the United States. So I contacted my donors in Lebanon and they directed me to Ms. Deya’ Leonard Dresner. Deya’ helped me out and placed me with a wonderful American host mother where I received room and board for the summer. Her home was of walking distance to my university. This opportunity helped me to develop relationships with new people, guided me more to develop my self-esteem and to develop a background in the American lifestyle. With the support system of LE•O, I was able to get through my struggles and focus on my internship. Definitely I can’t forget all the guidance and the support that Deya’ in particular gave me, from checking on me regularly to guiding me to have a better insight on how to build my future and what is the best next step to do.

 

 

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