Today we celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Leonard Education Organization (LE.O ).
As you know, thanks to our scholars, our board, and supporters like you, we have overcome tremendous challenges and achieved some incredible successes.
We enter our 6th year humbled by the reality that we cannot continue to sustain this amazing community without your generous contribution. Please donate if you can. We thank you in advance for your continued support.
Let me take this opportunity to give you an OVERVIEW and explain the WHY, WHO and HOW that make our LE.O Community unique.
First some statistics...
- We have served 76 students, 60% male, 40% Female.
- 4 are orphans.
- They are enrolled in 17 colleges and universities around the World.
- Students currently study in 10 different countries, US, Canada, UK, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon, and The West Bank.
- We've placed students in over $9.5 million dollars’ worth of scholarship funding from the schools.
- 95% placement success rate.
- All LE.O services are provided for free to the students.
- We focus our support on Palestine’s forgotten families -- those who are under-resourced, and, predominantly, from refugee camps or small villages
We have a proven track record of success...
- Established LE.O as a 501 C3, 5 years ago, in good standing.
- LE.O has received recognition and the Gold Seal of Transparency 2020 from GuideStar and a 2020 Top Rated Nonprofit seal from GreatNonProfits.
- The University of Rochester showcased their partnership with LE.O at an international education conference highlighting the value of our co-operation.
- We have grown every year.
We are creating and generating outstanding scholars...
- Our students enjoy top grades, often receiving honors for their achievements and are on the President’s and Dean’s lists every semester.
- Two of our Scholars have graduated with Master's Degrees from Oxford University
- A student from Gaza who studied at Cairo University Medical School, is currently employed as a doctor in Egypt.
Our students go on to become top professionals...
- Our graduates are currently employed in some of the world's top corporations: Microsoft, KPMG, PwC, Deloitte, and Jacobs Engineering Group.
- Another is the Vice Principal at a private school in Palestine.
- One of our first-generation college-educated young women, from East Jerusalem, began her employment this summer, at Microsoft headquarters.
- Some of our students are now in Ph.D. programs in Medical Research, have patents pending and are published in medical journals.
- 5 of the students already employed contribute financially to LE.O.
WHY WE ESTABLISHED LE.O
- We established LE.O to assist Palestine’s younger generation living on The West Bank of Palestine, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and beyond, with their needs for further education -- so that they may achieve their full potential. Our hope is to break the cycle of poverty, for third and fourth generation Palestinian refugees.
- We observed that there are no college advisors in public schools back home, and students struggle to find scholarship opportunities for higher education, back home and abroad.
- We started with the US because we live here, and American institutions are eager to add diversity to their student population. We help fill that need.
- Older students already studying in the US approached us to establish a program offering a support structure when studying so far from home, a program that they could participate in and contribute to.
- We now also try to assist students with their gap funding back home, due to the US funding cuts to Palestinians. We started by addressing the needs of orphans, of whom there are 3 currently out of the 10 in the region. They study in Egypt, Gaza, Lebanon, and West Bank.
WHO WE ARE
- Palestinian youth from the region. Students in Bachelor, Masters and PhD programs studying: Computer Sciences, Medicine , Medical Research, Engineering, Political Science, Environmental Studies, Architecture, City Planning, Refugee Studies, Business, Finance, Gender Studies, and International Law.
- A strong cross-cultural Board of Directors made up of academics and businesspeople, many of whom have a lifelong connection to the Leonard family. The Board provides financial support and guidance and ensures our due diligence and transparency. Our board members are fully vested.
- A Board of Advisors made up of students and therapists, providing advice, mentoring, soft skills development, they also helped in establishing our standard operating procedures (SOP).
- We are named in honor of my father Dr. Graham Leonard, who has dedicated his life’s work to the education of Palestinians.
- Working with colleges and universities offering scholarship funding. We have sustained partnerships with schools and organizations engaged in education, globally.
- Volunteers, business professionals and host families.
- We maintain relationships with corporations and other organizations offering internships and employment opportunities globally.
- Our funding is secured from individual donors and occasional foundation support.
HOW WE DO OUR WORK
1. We identify the brightest and most deserving students
We start to vet potential applicants as early as the 10th grade of High School. Looking at grades, extracurricular activities, need and character, along with a long list of criteria we devised, helps us evaluate the student’s talents, abilities, and resilience.
LE.O is well known amongst youth seeking educational support, they find us through social media and by word of mouth.
2. We prepare them for the college application process
Our Mentoring Division, spearheaded by two older students, helps in the process of preparing the next cohort of students. Via Skype and email the student volunteers begin preparing prospective students for the college application process. Our Mentors have logged in thousands of volunteer hours to date in support of the program. Once new prospects are selected by LE.O, we support SAT and TOEFL testing and cover all the examination and preparations costs.
3. We pair the applicants with scholarship opportunities
Then, we pair applicants with scholarship programs, guide the students in their college applications, review essays, and ensure that all documentation is in place for deadlines required by the schools. We also provide Pre- and Post-Orientation for cultural adjustment and study preparedness, so our students are ready when they arrive at school.
4. We support our students throughout college
We provide Mentoring services throughout their educations to strengthen Academic and Soft Skills development. We have established webinars to support our students in a variety of categories, including: Essay Writing, International Travel, Sourcing Affordable Books, Adjusting to Life on Campus, etc. All students receive a LE.O College Student Handbook, written by older students.
We help address medical, dental, and other emergencies, 24/7.
We follow our students throughout their entire educational experience in the US and beyond. And we observe the EU and US regulatory policy for safety and privacy.
5. We help find our students internships and permanent employment
Alongside their school placement programs, LE.O matches students with valuable internships and job opportunities. We offer career enhancement coaching and job placement assistance focusing on opportunities at home, or to the region.
6. We work actively to raise funds, while searching for new scholarship opportunities
We have a comprehensive website and FB page, and we are currently establishing a Blog, Instagram, and Linked-In presence to support our fundraising efforts. We Fundraise through personal contact, newsletters, fundraisers, social media, regional- and education-related conferences, etc. Students participate in all these activities. By participating in on-campus cultural activities and in their adopted communities, our students become excellent ambassadors for Palestine. We help facilitate these events. We are in continuous search for scholarship opportunities to support our next class of students with emphasis on Individual Donors, Foundations, and International Organizations.
We are a vibrant, but humble, small community driven by the desire to offer a sustainable future to Palestine’s younger generation. We hope you agree that there is no better way to improve a young person's future than by offering them and their families the gift of self-empowerment through education.
If you wish to receive the individual full stories of some of our community members, we will gladly share them with you privately.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Deya’ Leonard Dresner