The Problem

The Covid-19 pandemic shed a worldwide light on the need to help children and youth build strong social-emotional learning skills and develop relationships that promote tolerance and celebrate diversity. MindLeaps’ flagship Dance & Data program launched five years before the pandemic, but it has never been more needed – and needed in more places around the globe.

Recruitment day for MindLeaps’ dance program in Oruchinga Refugee Settlement, Uganda
MindLeaps students going from dance class to school
In Mauritania, MindLeaps supports access to education for girls

MindLeaps’ model meets children where they are: struggling in school, lacking stable home lives, and often in a mental state of aimlessness, depression or even frustration. We focus on mindset change to develop positive memories and learning patterns that are activated through movement and tracked through performance metrics.

When students have supportive relationships and opportunities to develop and practice social, emotional, and cognitive skills across many different contexts, academic learning accelerates.


Although there is no doubt that strengthening the mindset and resiliency of youth in under-resourced communities is universally needed, MindLeaps broader services and holistic approach varies beyond gains in social-emotional learning depending on the location…


Since 1982, prison populations have increased 53% (Vera Institute). Moreover, 75% of New York’s formerly imprisoned population is Black or Latino (Brennan Center). MindLeaps is working to break the School-to-Prison pipeline by creating safe spaces for youth whose parents are incarcerated.

North Macedonia has long struggled with ethnic tension at home while current geopolitical tensions have worsened the situation. Rehabilitation and reintegration programs are attempting to address returning foreign terrorist fighters. More and more older youth are looking for education and employment opportunities outside of the country. MindLeaps is working to help younger children improve social-emotional learning while creating skills development and practical training opportunities for older youth to keep talent at home.

According to UNESCO, there are 244 million children between the ages of 6 and 18 who are out-of-school. Of that number, 50 million are girls in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Uganda, MindLeaps works with girls and out-of-school youth in Kampala to support re-entry into school while helping parents and caregivers become economically independent. In Rwanda, MindLeaps is working in partnership with the local government to improve academic achievement rates and provide critical training in English language and information technology.

In addition to high levels of street children, early marriage and polygamous cultures affect children’s development and success rates in Guinea and Mauritania. MindLeaps is supporting children’s transition into formal education and advocating for girls’ education through its centers and partners in West Africa.

Watch the video below to hear Eric’s story.

Eric dropped out of school due to a lack of funds and resorted to living on the streets and using drugs. After finding MindLeaps, Eric has changed his life for the better. He began attending school again and graduated from high school in 2021.