LEAF International believes in the power of music and the arts to inspire and connect.
LEAF believes in the power of culture to provide a sense of identity, a sense of belonging & a sense of power among our world’s youth.
LEAF recognizes that as our world faces an ever-increasing state of interconnectivity in the face of globalization, many cultural roots are becoming uprooted, putting communities at risk of losing important traditions. If these traditions are uprooted, humanity risks the inability of these cultural trees to grow new generational branches.
It is this that serves as our inspiration: to forge relationships with communities around the world to strengthen cultural arts education programs to engage youth in their rich, cultural heritage, while cultivating community and connection.
In 2017, LEAF International served:
10 countries | 13 programs
700+ youth participants weekly
17 Culture Keepers & Teaching Artists
1550+ youth participants in LEAF International programs since 2006!
From music instruments to child sponsorships, our people-centered programs depend on generous givers like you to grow and thrive. Donate today! 100% of your gift goes directly to support music and arts education programs in the country of your choosing.
LEAF Community Arts is a non-profit organization, building community, connecting cultures and enriching lives through the arts–locally and globally–with festivals, community events, and arts education programs.
Dedicated to cultural preservation and the fostering of global citizenship, LEAF International empowers communities by supporting Culture Keepers and connecting youth to their cultural heritage traditions.
LEAF International envisions a world where communities actively engage their youth in learning their cultural traditions, empowering them with the life skills necessary to be active agents of change in their communities, and in our world at large.
Believing that cultural expressions provide a wealth of intangible benefits that are crucial for a healthy and vibrant world, LEAF International aligns with the UN System Task Team for the post-2015 UN Development Agenda, who assert that cultural expression provides communities “with greater social inclusiveness and rootedness, resilience, innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship for individuals and communities, and the use of local resources, skills, and knowledge.”
At LEAF Community Arts, our programs are mission-driven, taking into consideration the following values:
- Mentoring / Caring Relationships
- Safe places to support stepping out of comfort zones that consider the needs of all
- Bridges to Access / Inclusiveness
- Partnership Inclusion
- Addressing Identified Community Needs
Methodology / Our Approach
LEAF International believes participatory and endogenous development is essential. All LI programs are carried out in partnership with already existing, local organizations, where we work collaboratively to set up traditional music and dance programs. While LEAF International acts as a catalyst to create and support the programs, these programs are not ours: rather, they are community-owned and community-led. This idea of endogenous development and the notion of giving ownership to the program constituents generates its own organic empowerment, while also creating a positive feedback loop of inspiration, participation, innovation and accountability.
What is endogenous development? It is the idea that development of any kind should be based on local peoples’ own understanding of change and their own vision of a holistic well-being. This endogenous understanding is then matched with a dynamic interface with external actors and the world around them. The point of endogenous development is to get beyond our western bias: to turn the page of history and make local peoples’ worldviews and livelihood strategies the starting point for development programs. Essential to supporting this endogenous understanding that is inherent in communities is to promote the interface between tradition and modernity, while also bolstering the transformative power of culture.
LEAF International promotes unique cultural traditions: what does tradition mean? LEAF International recognizes that traditions are not stuck in some timeless past: rather, they are keys to a community’s thriving present and future. Tradition is not a static object, but a dynamic process that is constantly being revived and revised by local peoples with active agency, particular when passed down from one generation to the next. This constant cycle of the revival and revision of cultural traditions shows us how meaning and identity is constructed: informed by the past while we envision new futures.