The LEAD (Leading, Educating, Advocating and Dedication) program has expanded to Porterville after successful pilot years in Visalia and Tulare.
Jessica Andrade, 17, a junior at Butterfield, is one of 38 students selected to participate in this year’s program.
“The program is basically about how to help in the community and figuring out how to be a good leader,” Andrade said.
The LEAD program is designed to inspire and empower high school students to make a difference in their community. It places an emphasis on service-learning and aims to engage youth in leadership activities while exposing them to post-secondary education. It is an eight-month program in which students receive instruction on civic engagement, community service, college preparedness and career exploration.
Students meet twice a month with sessions held at Porterville College as the group also goes on field trips. The Porterville LEAD group recently took a trip to Fresno State and will take another one to UCLA next spring.
“When we went to Fresno State, we participated in a lot of activities,” Andrade said. “We were figuring out how to become a leader and what qualities it takes to be a leader. We learned how to communicate with others and listening to everybody’s ideas.”
According to Cosmo Costales, Senior Program Specialist for CSET and LEAD program coordinator, the plan is for the program to end with a service-learning project in which students from Visalia, Tulare and Porterville will join together and complete a community-based project that focuses on a specific social issue.
“Last year, we collaborated with Krystal Contreras from the Family Crisis Center in Porterville where students addressed teen dating abuse and domestic violence. We were invited to present their project at the Central California Youth Summit last May,” Costales said. “We do not know what our project will be this year, but our next two sessions will be focused on what community [the students] will serve and what social issue they would like to address.”
“I think it’s a great experience,” Andrade said. “You are meeting new people and learning about the community. I’m really excited about summer because that’s when we get to work in the type of career we want and get a taste of it.”
The LEAD program partners with CSET (Community Services Employment Training), College of the Sequoias, Porterville College, and several Tulare County departments, including the Board of Supervisors, Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA), and Probations.