Girls’ LEAP (Lifetime Empowerment & Awareness Program) began as a community response to a wave of sexual assaults against women and girls in Cambridge in 1995. LEAP co-founders Deborah Weaver and Peggy Barrett were outraged by the lack of public warnings from police about the assaults, and committed themselves to helping protect others. Discovering that girls ages 10-14 were most at risk for sexual assault and exploitation, and that there was no programming available to teach young girls how to protect themselves, the two women founded Girls’ LEAP.
Girls’ LEAP delivered its first programs in 1997 and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2000. Since then, the overarching goal has been to provide girls and young women with the tools to protect and advocate for themselves in a variety of contexts by developing their self-confidence and courage. To date, Girls’ LEAP has served over 7,000 girls and young women in Greater Boston neighborhoods, including some of the most violent and crime ridden areas. Girls’ LEAP programs are hosted at community based organizations, after-school programs and community centers, and serve a diverse population.
The grant from SCA will expand Girls’ LEAP’s programming and training in Dorchester Center and Codman Square communities.