NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Britney Taylor is a trainer and coach at Moves & Grooves, Inc., an afterschool LEAP program.

“LEAP is actually our grantor. So, they allow us to offer free afterschool programming for middle school students with transportation, snacks, academic support,” Taylor said. “We provide a dance enrichment for the students, as well.”

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LEAP stands for Lottery for Education Afterschool Programs, and they require at least 50% of their students to be disadvantaged, whether socially, economically, or educationally.

“I think it’s taught me more about myself and also just more about the community, to understand that you’re a person and you’re a piece of the equation,” Moves & Grooves alum Desmond Jordan, who now works at the after-school program, said. “But to see how the community grows and comes together and how we support each other, it’s been amazing over the years.”

A group of teens do yoga outside.
Moves and Grooves, Inc., is a LEAP Program. (Courtesy: Britney Taylor)

It may sound strange, but LEAP shares an important relationship with the Tennessee Lottery.

“Unclaimed prizes, up to $18 million a year, go to afterschool programs,” Lottery Corporation President Rebecca Paul said. “The program’s run by an organization called LEAP.”

Under state law, “one hundred percent (100%) of monies constituting an unclaimed prize” go to LEAP.

Last year, Paul said the lottery helped fund 227 of them.

“We cap out at $18 million every year,” she said. “Whatever is unclaimed after the $18 million goes back into the lottery for education accounts.”

That account funds things like Tennessee Promise or Tennessee Reconnect.

“There are very few things that can change a person’s life – other than maybe winning $2 billion in the lottery,” Paul said with a grin. “But really, education is the one thing that really can change your life, and it’s the foundation of everything you’re going to do for the rest of your life.”

Lately, though huge jackpots like the Powerball and Mega Millions have garnered much of the attention, smaller tickets tend to add up for the unclaimed ticket fund.

“Eighty percent of our sales come from instant tickets, the one you scratch and find out immediately whether you won or not,” Paul said. “So, that’s the vast majority of our unclaimed prizes since 80% of our sales come from instant tickets.”

The president also pointed out that with those huge jackpots tend to come new players, who may not know the rules of the lottery as well. She said they may be more prone to throwing out a winning ticket, since it wasn’t a ‘jackpot’ winner, instead of keeping it and redeeming it for smaller amounts of money.

It may sound dramatic, but without the funding, Moves & Grooves might not exist.

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“It’s huge,” Taylor said. “To be honest, without this funding, we would not be able to offer the quality afterschool program we do offer.”

She actually didn’t know the funding came from unclaimed tickets. But when she found out, she jokingly had one final message with a laugh. “Don’t claim your tickets!”