Kirstin O’Sullivan believes in the power of education to transform a community. During her travels around the world, she’s experienced first-hand what happens when one person shares their expertise to the betterment of a whole community. Her passion led her to accept the appointment of External Relations Manager for LEAP Science and Maths School.

LEAP is a learning model that transforms disadvantaged young people’s lives and the communities where they live through excellence in education – particularly in mathematics, science, and English.

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LEAP is dedicated to educating and building future leaders at six locations across the country. Each LEAP School serves a specific community and students must take a qualifying entry exam prior to being accepted.

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At the LEAP schools, students have extended classes during the week, from 8:15 am to 5:15 pm, and they also attend on Saturday mornings. They spend extra time on maths, science, and English. Seniors preparing for the matriculation examinations that will shape their futures stay until 8 pm three nights a week.

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The LEAP education model has some amazing results. LEAP schools take in young people facing the most serious academic and social challenges yet have achieved a 95% Grade 12 pass rate with 74% of graduates pursuing tertiary studies. It seems that the combination of personal empowerment and academic success is the key that unlocks real change.

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LEAP schools have high expectations of South Africa’s youth and aim to transform deeply divided communities – one graduate at a time. What makes LEAP special is its focus on the emotional and social development of young people and their communities, as well as academic achievement.

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These young South Africans are the future leaders of their communities, industry, and the country. LEAP prepares them with the academic and life skills they need to become leaders.

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Some LEAP students continue as teachers – reinvesting their expertise to engage and inspire the next generation of students.

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Pamela, a LEAP student, is studying accounting, physics, business, and languages: English and Xhosa.

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Pamela describes the theory behind the educational programs at her school, LEAP Science & Maths. It sounds as though LEAP and Mosaic Non-Profit Development are philosophically aligned.

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Kirstin heads up the fundraising efforts for LEAP that raise around R28 million per year. With the addition of two new schools this year, it is projected that an additional R7 to R9 million are needed in contributions. There are two full-time staff members (including Kirstin) dedicated to fundraising and a couple of board members and volunteers who help with specific initiatives. Kirstin wants new educational nonprofit fundraising techniques so she can target and maximize new and existing funding sources. Additionally she’s is looking for ways to engage the organization’s board and volunteers to help expand the nonprofit fundraising team.

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Heidi met with Kirstin and used nonprofit fundraising techniques from Finding Funding and Major League Major Gifts to help Kirstin identify and engage potential transformative donors while empowering board members, volunteers, and donors to assist with the fundraising challenge in a meaningful way.

There’s significant growth on the horizon for LEAP. Now LEAP will be able to use cutting edge fundraising techniques to match their revolutionary approach to education and community building.

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