Frequently Asked Questions

What is LEAP?

Learning for the Empowerment and Advancement of Palestinians is a U.S. based educational enrichment Program working with Palestinian refugee youth in Lebanon. LEAP focuses on education as a tool for empowerment that assists Palestinian youth advancement—both as individuals and on a wider community level. LEAP operates three projects: Summer Help IN English (SHINE), After School Program In Remedial English (ASPIRE), and Recruitment Initiative Scholarship Enrolment (RISE). LEAP projects focus on improving our students’ English proficiency. Lebanese national exams are administered in English and are required for promotion to high school. High English proficiency allows our students to achieve higher levels of education, thus improving their chances of entrance into university, vocational schools, and increase their chances for employment.

How was LEAP started?

LEAP began in the summer of 2010 with the pilot of Project SHINE. Sisters Fatema and Maryam Zohny founded the Program after bearing witness to the refugee reality in Lebanon and learning about the consequential impact English proficiency has on the educational advancement of Palestinian refugee youth, specifically the national Brevet exam, which is administered in English and required for promotion to high school. Moreover, they hope to shed light on the right to education and the refugee issue in Lebanon. After the success of the pilot project, LEAP has continued to operate its projects in Beirut and Tyre, Lebanon and has expanded from one project to three projects and from one camp to five camps. Thus far, LEAP has impacted approximately over 2000 youth, 150 volunteers, and 30 teachers.

What are LEAP’s projects?

Currently LEAP implements three projects. Project SHINE is a summer, English intensive project operates in 5 refugee camps in Beirut and Tyre. Project ASPIRE held its pilot season in 2012 and runs as an after school English tutoring program. Project RISE assists Palestinian youth with scholarship opportunities to either university or vocational schooling. All programs are entirely free of charge for our students.

How is LEAP operated?

LEAP is operated by a Board of Directors, Advisory Board and a large volunteer team. LEAP is a volunteer run organization and has no paid staff. LEAP was founded by sisters Maryam and Fatema Zohny, who serve as the Program Director and Education Director, respectively. Meet the rest of our team!

How is the organization funded?

LEAP is funded through grassroots fundraising efforts, seed grants, and generous donations from a variety of individuals. A large part of Project SHINE is funded through volunteers’ program fees.  Moreover, the Carol Chomsky Memorial Fund (CCMF) has been a significant contributor to LEAP and allowed for LEAP to expand its programming.

What kind of organization is LEAP?

LEAP is a non-profit organization under the fiscal sponsorship of WESPAC which holds 501(c)3 status. LEAP is an apolitical, humanitarian organization with no political affiliation, run entirely by volunteers.

Does LEAP have a local partner?

LEAP’s current local partner is the Lebanon–based NGO, The National Institute for Social Care and Vocation Training (NISCVT), locally known as Beit Atfal Assumoud (BAS). NISCVT, or BAS, is a Palestinian-run organization established after the Tal el Zaatar massacre as an orphanage. Since then, BAS has expanded into a kindergarten and offers various youth and family support services.

Why Palestinian youth in Lebanon?

Palestinian refugees worldwide have lived in exile from their native land since 1948. Many have been living in what was expected to be a temporary situation; now 65 years on, millions of Palestinian refugees are unable to return to their homes and homeland. The situation for Palestinians refugees in Lebanon is especially dire in comparison to other host countries. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon face an especially difficult reality as they are prevented from working in over 70 professions, denied citizenship, hold few civil rights, and face cultural and social discrimination.

Palestinian refugees are required to attend UNRWA schools and few can afford private education outside the camps. Many Palestinian students in Lebanon lack adequate English proficiency, causing them to fail the Brevet National Exam, administered in English, thus preventing them from advancing to high school and many vocational and technical institutes.

LEAP Program

LEAP is a grassroots volunteer program established to provide educational empowerment projects to support the intellectual growth and creative curiosity of refugee-youth in Lebanon so they may become agents of change. As an apolitical humanitarian US-based organization, LEAP aims to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinian refugees in general, but particularly in Lebanon, to American volunteers.

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LEAP relies on the support of generous donors to sustain its projects. Click here to find out how you can support LEAP, or donate online:

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