The Learn, Earn, Advance and Prosper (L.E.A.P.) Program is a comprehensive welfare-to-work model implemented by a not-for-profit community hospital in Tucson, AZ. Welfare reform, a serious social issue, has gripped the country over the past few years and legislators around the country are scrambling to implement programs that target welfare reform. TMC HealthCare is an innovative business that is leading the charge of filling in the gaps in welfare reform in Southern Arizona.
It seems fitting that the only not-for-profit community hospital in the region is taking on the challenge of developing, implementing and continuing to evolve one of the most comprehensive welfare-to-work models in the country. This model not only addresses the obvious criteria of welfare reform, to employ individuals who are losing their welfare benefits, but also takes the individuals participating in the program to newer levels of self-sufficiency. The program does this by breaking down critical barriers to success such as transportation and sick child-care needs and providing ongoing support through continuing education, on-the-job training and a comprehensive mentoring component.
The mentoring element is one of the most important components of the L.E.A.P. Program. Seasoned employees from TMC HealthCare are matched with L.E.A.P. participants to provide them with a support network as they begin the program. While individuals from TMC HealthCare receive compensation for some of their activities with the L.E.A.P. Program, many are also giving countless hours on a voluntary basis in order to make the program successful. These volunteers lend support and guidance while setting an example of dedication and commitment to TMC HealthCare and the community at large.
The TMC HealthCare L.E.A.P. Program is a unique collaboration consisting of a health care organization, a not-for-profit volunteer center, a community college and a state agency. Through the efforts of these organizations, 17 individuals have graduated from the program and gained employment with TMC HealthCare. The program is in its infancy; however it has significantly changed the lives of the L.E.A.P. participants and all the mentors and coordinators that are involved in the program.
Since TMC HealthCare is a not-for-profit organization, it does not receive tax benefits for its involvement. The purpose statement of the organization states: "To improve the health and well-being of the community." This does not only apply to health care issues, but also to other issues which help create a healthier community; issues such as economic development, continuing education and breaking the cycle of poverty.