The Lake Education Assistance Program (LEAP) is part of an education initiative offered by the Illinois EPA. Funding is provided through Conservation 2000, a comprehensive multi-year environmental protection program signed into law in 1995.
LEAP funds are available to all school children whether they attend public or private schools, and for grades from kindergarten through graduate school. Funds are also available to not-for-profit organizations, such as lake associations, scouting groups, parks, and communities. LEAP has approximately $50,000 in available funding per year. The maximum award per school and/or organization is $500 per application period.
The IEPA provides funding for approximately one hundred lake and lake watershed related educational field trips, seminars/workshops, projects, and activities per fiscal year. Projects and activities must have stated goals and involve the enhanced lake/lake watershed education of teachers, students, organizations and/or the community. A one page final report will be required, including such things as the level of participant involvement, videos, photographs, artwork, and/or written work. Funding will be in the form of reimbursement of documented costs incurred, and can be applied to such items as educational materials, scientific equipment, substitute teacher payment, buses/drivers, seminars, workshops, software, and visual materials. Any reimbursement request submitted to the Illinois EPA after June 30 will not be accepted and becomes the responsibility of the purchaser.
Application deadlines are September 30 and January 31. Only one application per school or organization for each application period will be accepted. Please feel free to make copies of the attached documents for future use or for distribution to interested parties. For an application, please download a copy of the Lake Education Assistance Program Application Form.
Success of the program is evident in the many "thank you" letters received from teachers participating in the program.
Ms. Maureen Quiery from Central Road School in Rolling Meadows, Illinois writes, “The funds from the LEAP program will benefit not only the children who went on the field trip but all of the children at Central Road School. Every single pair of boots were used by the children who otherwise would have ruined their only pair of shoes... The faces of the second graders as they were the first to use the equipment was priceless. The children felt like ‘scientists’ at the pond. This program turned another group of learners into passionate environmentalists.”
Ms. Elaine Link from Carlinville High School writes, "Thank you for granting our request for Lake Education Assistance Program funds to purchase the GIS site license. I was so excited to see the letter of approval in my mailbox today. The LEAP program encourages educators to try new approaches, and it helps us provide students with direct environmental experiences. I am very anxious to get the GIS training and implement GIS technology in my classes. Thank you, thank you, thank you!"