Project LEAD is an effective law-related education program established by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office in 1993. The 20-week curriculum teaches fifth grade students about the criminal justice system and the importance of making good decisions.
Volunteers from within the District Attorney’s Office and partner agencies are instructors for the program and serve as role models in the classroom.
Researchers have found that Project LEAD produces positive results. A 2005 evaluation showed that students complete the program with a better appreciation for the law, the importance of education and the benefits of making the right life choices.
Since its inception, Project LEAD has touched the lives of tens of thousands of students in public schools throughout Los Angeles County. It has been replicated in other jurisdictions across the United States and in other countries.
Project LEAD Facilitators
Prosecutors, law enforcement personnel and other professional staff members volunteer to spend one hour a week in an elementary school classroom to teach Project LEAD. Students develop connections with these role models and learn about their educational and professional backgrounds. Some classes are taught by individual facilitators; others are taught by a team.
Project LEAD relies solely on volunteers from the criminal justice system, who take time out of their regular work day to participate. As a result, the number of classes that can be accommodated is limited.
Project LEAD is a partnership between the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF), a nonprofit organization with a well-respected track record in civic education.
The curriculum focuses on the legal and social consequences of juvenile crimes, such as truancy, illicit drug use, shoplifting and graffiti. Project LEAD also teaches students techniques for resolving conflict and resisting peer pressure. Other lessons promote tolerance and respect for diversity. Additional activities demonstrate the role of education in achieving economic stability.
Facilitators teach students using detailed lesson plans that incorporate active learning strategies, such as skits, and optional field trips. The program concludes with students performing a mock trial, putting into practice what they have learned about the criminal justice system.