What is Project LEAD?
Project LEAD is an effective law-related elementary education program established by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office in partnership with the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Its goal is simple: To teach children that the choices they make today can affect their lives forever.
How are schools and classrooms selected to participate in the program?
The program targets fifth-graders and is open to all Los Angeles County public schools. Each lesson has been developed specifically for a fifth-grade student level. Project LEAD is a volunteer-based program and although we try to accommodate all schools, we do not always have enough volunteers to accommodate all classes.
What is the duration of the program?
Facilitators generally teach one hour a week for approximately 20 weeks. The program generally runs from late September or October to May. Project LEAD does not have to start during the first week or two of school.
Who are the facilitators?
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office encourages its prosecutors, investigators, paralegals, field deputies, hearing officers and law clerks to volunteer to teach Project LEAD. Representatives from other prosecutorial agencies also participate.
Is the program effective?
In 2005-06, a two-year study of Project LEAD was completed by Bernadette Chi, Ph.D., and Ellen Middaugh, M.A., with favorable findings. The survey indicated that the program gave students the skills and experiences to evaluate challenging situations and make more appropriate decisions than comparison students who did not have Project LEAD instruction. The Project LEAD students showed increased tolerance and understanding of the consequences of their decisions and actions.
The findings also suggest that Project LEAD provided an important “protective factor” during this critical period of youth development that helped students maintain a positive attitude toward laws and lawyers. The emphasis on respect and understanding of the reasons behind laws separates Project LEAD from most youth programs. These effects may be important especially in communities where many young people develop a negative attitude toward the legal system.
How does my school get involved?
Schools throughout Los Angeles County are invited to participate in Project LEAD. Principals or teachers who are interested in the program should contact the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Affairs Division at 213-257-2960 or LEAD@da.lacounty.gov.