leaf blog

LEAF International is connecting global youth to THEIR cultural traditions.
Over 530 global youth are currently in LI music programs!
10 Countries  •  13 Programs  •  19 Teaching artists  •  7 Schools  
2 Orphanages  •  3 Cultural Centers

1035+ youth have participated in LI programs since 2006.

WHAT we do and HOW we do it

LEAF International empowers youth globally through THEIR cultural musical traditions to enhance self-esteem, educate, and to create skills, connections, and community. LEAF collaborates to create programs with their LOCAL teaching artists, instruments, and costumes. LEAF believes MUSIC & ARTS are powerful tools for children’s self-esteem, healing, learning skills, positive development, hope, skills, and creating a healthy happier community. Experiencing art, music and cultures transforms us as individuals and as a global community. 

LEAF International partners with organizations such as schools and orphanages, and works together to start a traditional music program. LEAF connects to local teaching artists, purchases local instruments and costumes, and provides support for the programs to be developed. The programs are low cost, high impact and designed to be THEIR programs. When LEAF partners with a community, we are dedicated to being a longterm supporter and partner. The results have been extraordinary, life changing and community shaping.

WHERE we serve



LIHaitiBEDancebweb Haiti







Wilmington Yoga Center


Costa Rica







View LEAF International Programs in a larger map
The IMPACT of LEAF Interational

According to 2013 surveys from many of our programs:

96% of youth are learning their musical traditions, increasing cultural compentence of their own traditions and increasing their involvement in creative activities!
99% of youth reported that learning music through their LI program is increasing their self-esteem!
96% believe that their LI Program is having a good impact on their life!
99% of youth reported that learning music through their LI program is increasing their self-esteem!
95% reported that they are learning NEW musical skills.
79% reported that their LI program was their first opportunity to learn their musical traditions!

Learning cultural traditions is changing the lives of students and communities.

LEAF International is proud to be a member of:

The International Society for Music Educators and The National Guild for Community Arts Education
(click on the images below for more information about these great organizations)

LIISME-logo-1024x1000                      National Guild New Logo eps


Our INSPIRATION: A Note from the Director

The LEAF Arts Education Outreach Programs of LEAF International [LI] and LEAF Schools & Streets [LSS] both grew out of seeing a “gap” and a “need.” Global Cultures have always been one of my passions. Since I started LEAF, I have learned that music and dance are the most powerful vehicles to keeping culture alive and connecting people. While traveling, I started to dream of a way to be able to connect deeper with the “locals” while “giving back.” While in Bequia, I inquired how many kids on the island were learning the local STEEL PAN tradition....only ONE! At the local school, I asked them if I secured instruments and a local teacher would they host a program...of course! LI was on its way. Now over 70 kids on the island have learned how to play pan.

LEAF was one of only two national festivals asked to present to the NEA council in response to their “Outdoor Festival Study.” Most organization create one to nine outreach programs annually. LEAF through LI and LSS create 60 annual ARTS EDUCATION programs yearly! LEAF is a small festival with a big vision and outreach. All gifts, donations and earnings are maximized to make a 100% direct positive difference!

The vision for both LSS and LI continues to be: community collaborations, that are low cost, high impact, LOCAL, and sustainable. We are all stronger together, and MUSIC and ARTS helps bring so much positive life to our communities!
-Jennifer Pickering, LEAF Executive Director & Founder

See each country's page for specific wishlists of instruments, costumes, etc.
100% of your GIFT goes to LEAF International global ARTS EDUCATION program for kids. Gifts are tax-deductible, and make a direct difference NOW. 
Donations of $20 will receive LEAF's Go Global CD by request.

Donate Here or Contact: Donate@theLEAF.org

LEAF International Timeline


  • LI Haiti came to May LEAF and shared in beautiful cultural exchanges with the LEAF Community.
  • LI Ambassadors Rising Appalachia visit LI Costa Rica and travel to Bribri First Nation.
  • LI Kenya begins through a partnership with TWAAYF (Total War Against AIDS Youth Foundation)!


  • LI Rwanda - Daniel of LEAF Intore Troupe is no longer a driver but a full time musician!
  • LI Bequia Kids on Pans came to October LEAF!
  • LI Costa Rica launched in two locations with Proyecto Jirondai- in Talamanca and La Casona!
  • LI Haiti launched in Port Au Prince with Prosjekt Haiti and Boukman Eksperyans!
  • Loose LEAF Tea at Dobra Tea House connected people to global cultures through tea and music.


  • LI Guatemala Young Music Stars came to LEAF in October!!!
  • LI Rwanda- Daniel of LEAF Intore Troupe performs for President's Wife Bday & 1st Video
  • LI Haiti scheduled to open Feb 16, 2013
  • LI Tanzania launched a second program in Arusha at St. Joseph Girls School
  • D-Streets Studios set up a one mic studio in Arusha at Ilboru.


  • LI India project started by Wilmington Yoga Center.
  • Fredy Nganga, LI Tanzania teaching artist, performed at October LEAF.
  • LEAF hosted LI Outpost Sessions at the festival with international artists.
  • LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe in Rwanda bought its own performance costumes.


  • LI Panama youth musicians performed at the International Boquete Jazz Festival for the first time.
  • LI partnered with D-Streets Studios and Ben Gradison in Columbia.
  • Patch Adams and LEAF staff visited LI Guatemala.
  • LEAF ambassador group visited LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe in Rwanda. Troupe did its first big performance at Hotel Serena.


  • Playing for Change Foundation partnered with LI Rwanda.
  • Mizero Children of Rwanda came to LEAF for special performances.
  • LI Panama kids and teachers performed at October LEAF festival.
  • LI Rwanda troupe named itself the LEAF Intore Cultural Troupe.
  • LI Tanzania partnered with Jane Goodall Institute’s Roots & Shoots to help spread their environmental messages in Arusha, Dar Es Saleem, and the Lugufu Refugee Camp.
  • LEAF donor maked it possible for LI Rwanda Troupe to move from the streets into its first home.


  • LI Mexico launched through Sister Cities.
  • LI Rwanda Troupe wins Kigali Soccer Tournament.


  • Mizero Children of Rwanda come to LEAF with Jean Paul Samputu.
  • LI Guatemala launched with PEG, David LaMotte, and Child Aid.
  • LI Panama launched in Boquete.


  • LEAF International (LI) launched its first projects in Rwanda & Bequia.

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