The LEAP Program

The Lyndon Economic opportunity AmeriCorps Program (LEAP) was founded in 2015 and is located on the Northern Vermont University - Lyndon campus. LEAP is a new vision for the legacy of the former Northeast Kingdom Initiative (NEKI) program that has been changing lives of youth and families in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont since 1994.


In 2019-2020, LEAP members served at 9 non profit Host Sites in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, implementing a variety of educational programs to youth and adults while increasing the capacity of their host site’s important work.


LEAP members also engage in educational and career development through their experience in National Service. While serving, AmeriCorps members earn a bi-weekly living allowance and an education award upon successful completion of their term. Full time members are also eligible for health insurance and childcare assistance.


We know that access to a second dose of STEAM in an afterschool program, summer camp session, or year-round programming will set up students for success in STEAM subjects, improve academic engagement and attitudes, help build their soft skills, give them access to additional caring and knowledgeable educators in the form of LEAP members, and enrich the schools and communities where this programming is offered.


Specifically LEAP curricula will focus in the following areas: STEAM early literacy, conservation and outdoor environmental education, farm-to-school education, college preparation, 4-H technology, and the natural sciences. LEAP members will deliver curricula units and capture data surrounding the number of youth who they serve and the impact that their programming has on youth participants' attitude and enthusiasm for education.



LEAP is an AmeriCorps State program hosted through our State Commission Office in Montpelier: SerVermont. SerVermont currently supports a variety of AmeriCorps Programs and AmeriCorps planning grants. In 2016 Vermonters were recognized for their volunteerism as 4th in the nation for producing National Service members per capita. Vermont is passionate about service to others, and the AmeriCorps programs in the state reflect that philosophy.


LEAP AmeriCorps members serve terms of a variety of lengths, and have access to all the benefits that National Service has to offer. The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is the federal agency through with AmeriCorps programs, and other volunteer based programs are funded. To learn more please visit our Serve and Members pages.



The Northeast Kingdom and Northern Vermont University

Spanning three counties (Caledonia, Essex, and Orleans) the NEK is a very special area of Vermont with many great characteristics, from the rugged individualism of its citizens, to the stunning natural landscape. The NEK community also faces obstacles in part due to the rural isolation of the region, lack of employment opportunities, and low post-secondary education attainment rates. These factors all play their role in many residents' economic realities. But, in the face of these challenges there are incredible community organizations, local schools, libraries, and human service agencies working tirelessly to improve opportunities and outcomes for all. LEAP is very proud to be a part of these efforts, and to call this resilient and beautiful community home.


The LEAP program is hosted at Northern Vermont University - Lyndon Campus. NVU is one of the Vermont state colleges, offering access to 2 year and 4 year degree programs, as well as specialized certificates. NVU Lyndon focuses on career preparation and real life experience for students, and is well known for: Electronic Journalism Arts, Atmospheric Sciences, Teacher Preparation, Music Business, Mountain Recreation Management, and much more. LEAP greatly values being a part of the campus community, and several current LEAP members are alums of the college or current students!



LEAP Program Staff


LEAP Program Director, Hannah Nelson

Hey y’all! My name is Hannah Nelson, and I am the new LEAP Program Director. I am a Tennessean born and raised, but I served in AmeriCorps during the summer 2022 as the Child and Family Educator for the Old Stone House Museum & Historic Village in Brownington, VT. After my summer service, I accepted a full-time position as Interim Registrar at the museum and got to extend my stay here. I didn’t get enough of the NEK then, so I made the move more permanent! I am very excited to be here and experience my first “real” winter! Before coming to Vermont, I graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in Linguistics in 2020 and worked as a research assistant for three different labs that focused mainly on energy and environmental justice, agricultural education, and the synthesis between social justice issues and public health. I have a strong passion for social justice, especially related to education, and I love working with people. When I’m not in the office, you can find me nose deep in a book, writing short stories, listening to music too loud, or dancing like no one is watching.

LEAP Program Coordinator, Rebecca Sanders