Our Vision

Girls’ LEAP’s vision is a world where all girls  and gender-expansive youth grow into powerful, capable adults realizing the power of their aspirations.

Our Mission

Girls' LEAP partners with local schools and community centers to deliver empowerment and self-defense training to girls aged 8-18 in Greater Boston. In our programs, all girls and gender-expansive youth are encouraged to value and champion their own safety and well-being. We teach youth that they have a right to be safe and how to defend themselves when necessary.

We believe all girls and gender-expansive youth deserve to grow up safe and free from violence – and that empowerment is violence prevention.

Our goal is to provide girls with the tools and skills to keep themselves safe, both emotionally and physically.


Our Values

We believe in the extraordinary potential of gender-expansive youth

We believe in choice, consent, and emotional resilience

We create a culture that values girls and builds confidence

We are accountable to the gender-expansive youths we serve and to their communities

Our Story

Girls’ LEAP turns 25 this year!  We began as a community response to a wave of assaults against women and girls in Cambridge in the 1990s. Recognizing the lack of resources available to protect young girls in their community, Deborah Weaver and Peggy Barrett co-founded Girls' LEAP. They built a curriculum based on extensive research to meet the physical and socio-emotional needs of girls and gender-expansive youth.

Girls’ LEAP delivered its first programs in 1997 and was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit in 2000. In 2008, Root Cause recognized the success of our innovative curriculum with a Social Innovator award.  We have been supported by the generosity of individuals, foundations, and corporations who seek to invest in the futures of girls and gender-expansive youth in Boston.  Most recently, we were honored by the Anna B. Stearns Foundation 2022 Sylvia Simmons Best Practice Award for an organization exhibiting innovation and excellence in serving the needs of women and girls in the Greater Boston area.

Partnerships with our students, their parents, and community organizations have been essential to LEAP.  We are grateful to be able to reach more youth, more deeply through our work with other youth-serving organizations including Women’s Money Matters and Big Sister Boston, as well as the city of Boston, Boston Public Schools, City Connects, and Work, Inc.

Girls' LEAP's curriculum has evolved to include topics such as boundary setting, healthy relationships, cyber-bullying, and most recently, mental health and self-care support. In 2020, Girls' LEAP clarified that we support all girls, youth who identify as girls, and gender-expansive youth.

Our staff training has also evolved.  In addition to preparing our teaching teams to lead our curriculum, we teach them to create inclusive cultures in our classrooms.  Girls' LEAP continues forward with the vision of a world where all girls and gender-expansive youth grow into powerful, capable adults realizing the power of their aspirations.