ULEAD: The Effects of a Civics-Based Educational Program on Urban Youth
There is a critical need for urban youth to have working knowledge of the legal and civic nuances of their communities and political state that affects their daily lives. The pressing problems of the daily existence that these students face inhibit them from utilizing this understanding to exhibit appropriate behavior and engage in civil discourse. Urban Legal Education and Academic Development (ULEAD) provided these students with the knowledge of the functions of the legal and civic processes that facilitate behavior modification to allow them to take advantage of the social order in which they are enmeshed.
Through hands-on, interactive and problem-based curricula, ULEAD presented to urban youth positive and productive ways to engage their communities and respond in socially acceptable ways to modulate the forces that they identified as oppressive. ULEAD offered young minds pathways to character development through first-hand involvement with law enforcement, judicial systems, constitutional history and socio-economic structures. The program provided students the opportunity to understand that they are part of the process that makes their communities work for the betterment of all. Students were presented with options they may never have considered to strengthen their academic, social and economic states. The ULEAD intervention demonstrated that attitudes, sense of agency, and civic understanding of urban youth could be influenced.