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Federal Grant to Bolster Students, Families and Communities in Two East Side Indianapolis Neighborhoods

Two east side neighborhoods will receive a much-needed boost in supports and wrap-around services to improve the lives of students and families and to continue the revitalization efforts happening in the area, thanks to a $30 million Promise Neighborhood Grant.

The grant announcement made Tuesday, Dec. 14, at James Russell Lowell School 51, included representatives from Indianapolis Public Schools, the John Boner Center, the Edna Martin Christian Center and U.S. Representative Andre Carson’s office.

The grant will support the IndyEast Promise Neighborhood — the Near Eastside and Martindale Brightwood neighborhoods — through 2026. Indianapolis is one of only seven cities — from a pool of 50 applicants — awarded the grant.

Over the last decade, the federal program (through the U.S. Department of Education) has funded projects designed to ensure that all children and youth growing up in areas designated as “Promise Neighborhoods” have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that would prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career.

In Indianapolis, this place-based approach, focuses on addressing generational family and community poverty by ensuring the availability of quality educational opportunities and providing a range of wrap-around supports for youths, families and communities. 

The five-year project includes a variety of community partners that will work together to ensure its success. Those partners include the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, the City of Indianapolis, Children’s Bureau/Families First of Indiana, Edna Martin Christian Center, EmployIndy. Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, The Mind Trust, and the United Way of Central Indiana. 

Partners will meet regularly over the next six months to work out details of the multi-year plan.

Six of the seven schools that will benefit from the grant are IPS schools.

“At Indianapolis Public Schools, we are excited about what the Promise Neighborhood grant means for our families, our students, and the community as a whole,” said IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson. “We know that families flourish when they have access to exceptional educational opportunities, strong economic supports, and deep networks of social capital that build resiliency. We are especially excited to see how our students will benefit from the wide range of wrap-around supports provided through the program.” 

Schools participating in the project are:

  • Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School
  • James Russell Lowell School 51
  • Brookside School 54
  • Paramount School of Excellence
  • KIPP Indy College Prep Middle School
  • Harshman Middle School
  • Arsenal Technical High School

James Taylor, chief executive officer of the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, which will lead the project, believes the award of federal funding to Indianapolis is a recognition of the transformation that has been and is occurring in IPS and how these community organizations are aligning around the educational success of children.  

“While the funding is important, the real goal here is a systemic change to ensure children and families are more effectively and seamlessly cared for by both the schools and community — from birth to adulthood,” said Taylor.   

As part of the project, Taylor noted the Boner Center will build out its comprehensive home visit program and assign students college and career coaches at schools to help students explore post-secondary education pathways.