Our Story

Tap In Leadership Academy (Tap In) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit academic enrichment organization serving youth in pre-k through high school. Tap In was founded in February 2010 by Executive Director, Sally K. Carter, as a Summer Enrichment Program housed at the McKinley Foundation, on the University of Illinois campus. A relationship-centered, intentional learning community, Tap In offers Afterschool Enrichment Programs (AEP), Summer Enrichment Programs (SEP), Family Enrichment Programs (FEP), a Kickback Lounge (KBL), and Tap In Prep Academy (TIPA) throughout Central Illinois and Chicago.

The mission of Tap In Leadership Academy is to enhance educational achievement, support leadership development, and raise cultural awareness so that all of our scholars are college and career ready upon high school graduation. The Tap In Way® affirms the existing knowledge, skills, and potential of student-scholars and creates equitable opportunities for intellectual, social, and emotional growth.

The vision of Tap In Leadership Academy is to educate, equip and empower scholars to become the next generation of leaders.  By serving scholars as young as 4 years old, Tap In Leadership Academy provides youth with early opportunities to grow and learn in a multi-age environment. Through interactive lessons, hands-on learning activities, and engaging field studies, Tap In scholars are exposed to a holistic and culturally diverse assortment of options. Peer mentoring and one-on-one tutoring give scholars the time and attention they need to achieve excellence in academics and learn healthy ways to navigate relationships. Our team consults directly with scholars’ teachers and parents in order to maximize scholar success. As our scholars blossom into leaders through these experiences, Tap In Leadership Academy strives to maintain and sustain communication as our scholars travel through multiple levels of learning.

Who We Serve

Scholars are enrolled based on their academic performance and leadership skills. Scholars should not be failing core classes. Because all enrolled scholars are performing well academically, they can better benefit from the additional academic assistance and encouragement that we provide.

Examples of age-consistent leadership skills include:

  • Excellent school attendance
  • Turning in homework with regularity
  • Asking questions in class
  • Influencing others
  • Helping others
  • Being attentive in school
  • Being open to exploring new things

What We Do

  • Provide one-to-one tutoring and mentoring with trained volunteers from the University of Illinois and the community
  • Offer Summer Enrichment Programs
  • Provide daily healthy snacks
  • Build positive, caring relationships between scholars and their peers, as well as adults
  • Encourage scholars to work hard in school and excel in academics
  • Build upon and nurture leadership skills
  • Offer trainings and workshops to our scholars’ families
  • Provide enrichment opportunities

The Tap In Way®

We use the Tap In Way® to educate, equip, and empower scholars to become the next generation of leaders.

Think Big!

  • Never limit your dreams
  • See where you want to be

Achieve what you believe

  • Be open to new experiences
  • Embrace opportunities for leadership development

Prepare yourself for greatness

  • Maintain a standard of excellence
  • Be on time, productive, and positive

Inspire others

  • Live life as a role model
  • Act with kindness

Nurture your spirit

  • Find something to be grateful for everyday
  • Surround yourself with people who build you up