Education for Children
Liberty LEADS at Bank Street College is a New York City–based high school completion and college access program that has served more than 1,700 students between 5th and 12th grade since 1989. Founded to empower underrepresented youth, our program makes an impact in the lives of students every day by helping them attain higher education, embrace leadership engagement, and create a positive future for themselves and others.
Empowering Students in New York City
Liberty LEADS makes a difference in the lives of New York City students by building a supportive, collaborative community that nurtures academic, social, and emotional growth while helping students develop a love of learning.
TranscriptTranscript At Liberty, I feel we’ve worked with over 1500 students throughout our 30-year lifespan and I've had alums share with me that without the access to the opportunities that they participate in here, that they would not be where they are now. We talk a lot about access and opportunities for our students. It’s one thing to provide them with their academic work but many of our students came from families where they didn't see many possibilities and what we did was to provide possibilities for them. The families that come to us come to us with a whole host of resiliency and strengths and they already have all the skills that they need to succeed. What they don't have is access to resources and so that's what we do. When you have someone that like really motivates you and like really believes that you can succeed, it makes you feel like you're actually able to do things that you don’t think you’re able to do. In classes, they make sure we understand things and make sure that everyone's being respectful and that makes me feel like I'm safe in this environment. That was to me one of the great successes of Liberty. We hired staff who cared about adolescents; who understood that adolescents were on on a learning curve; that if they've got whatever it was that they needed, they would succeed. They needed a lot of support. They needed guidance and the staff provided all of that. The best thing that we do in terms of empowering students to succeed is by not only looking at the child within their school. We look at the child within their home life within their life outside of school, outside of their home, their social life. With Liberty, you can make a mistake and they won't like judge you for it. They'll take a negative and turn into a positive and it gains more confidence for me because for me I was always scared to make mistakes. In the past I would blame myself for many things that I shouldn't get blamed for and they just taught me that not everything is my fault, especially what happened with the passing of my best friend, I lost confidence ever since then and then when I came to Liberty, like I said it was like a platform for me to express my feelings. I used to just like doubt myself and stuff because he was special to me and it seemed gone. It was like bad, but with Liberty, they made sure that I was okay, that I was fine, and now I just try my best sometimes to make him happy because I know he's looking down on me right now. Not a lot of kids feel they can be in an environment where they just feel safe as who they are you know. And Liberty does that. This program revitalizes young people. You know, at one point they would label this program as a program for at-risk students. I don't think that's quite right. I think that this was a place that allowed you to dream, this was a place that allows you to imagine; this was a place that truly listened to everything that your heart was saying and everything that your young seventh grade angry frustrated self was saying as well and they would take all of that energy and they would redirect it into something positive and those positive aspects for the programs, for the classes… that’s Liberty LEADS. Many of our students are first gen students. The families understand the importance of higher education but they don't have a roadmap on how to get there. I'm a senior now so I kind of have an idea of what I want to study and that's architecture. So I came to Liberty and they begged me back a full scholarship for a summer experience at Columbia to take an architecture course, which I did. No one would have ever thought that Tristan Kier Francis, the person that sits that's here, would have ever gone to college let alone go on to graduate school. But I truly believe that it's because of liberty LEADS that changes that trajectory.
At a Glance
83%Of Our Students Are Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Meals
72%Of Students Come from Households Where English Is Not the Main Language Spoken
90%Students Were Admitted and Started College
95%Students Have Graduated from High School on Time
History of Liberty LEADS
The Liberty LEADS Program brings together two well-established Bank Street initiatives. The Liberty Partnerships Program began at Bank Street in 1989 to ensure that underserved youth complete high school on time. In 2000, the Institute for Leadership Education Advancement and Development (I-LEAD) was founded to prepare promising high-achieving students from under-resourced parochial schools to become competitive applicants for admittance to selective colleges and universities.
In 2005, these two programs merged and Liberty LEADS was born. Today, we are able to support all types of learners through a holistic approach implemented in a strong, supportive environment.