Listen Live

(INDIANAPOLIS) – After more than 40 years of serving Indianapolis minority youth, an education nonprofit is raising money for a $33 million expansion.

The Center for Leadership Development works with four-thousand teenagers to help them grasp the importance of doing well in school, and to help them get there. President Dennis Bland says Indiana’s high school graduation rate among African-American males ranks in the bottom 10 nationally, a number he calls a disgrace. He says the center’s goal from its founding in 1977 has been to make Indianapolis a national model for ensuring minority students can achieve their academic and career potential.

The center wants to open five satellite locations in high-crime areas on Indy’s east and west sides, and double the size of its current Near Northside home. Bland says the expansion would increase capacity from 4,000 students to 6,500. The fund drive would also create a $6 million endowment to lock in financial stability for the future.

An $11 million grant from the Lilly Endowment kick-started the fund drive, and a $2 million donation Monday from IU Health lifts the campaign past the two-thirds mark. The Lilly Endowment has pledged to triple up to $1 million in donations received between now and the end of September. Bland says the center hopes to reach its fundraising goal next year.