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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — This Black History Month, we are taking the time to highlight the stories of people and groups who have helped shaped the black community.

One of those groups is the Center for Leadership Development in Indianapolis. According to the group’s website, it was founded in 1977 when Indianapolis community leaders identified several factors they believed prohibited, or severely limited, African American youth from achieving academic, college and career success.

To combat these factors, the center was founded with a mission “to foster the advancement of minority youth in Central Indiana as future professional, business and community leaders by providing experiences that encourage personal development and educational attainment”.

CLD offers 15 curriculum-based youth development experiences as well as the unique college prep institute, which helps prepare 6,000 youth and parents per year for academic, college and career achievement.

In late 2019, the center received an $11 million grant. The organization’s president, Dennis Bland, says they are using that funding to help impact more people.

The organization wants to establish satellite locations in some of our highest crimes, lowest-income areas. They also plan on taking their program into schools so young people will be exposed to the experiences they offer.

Bland says parents need to know about organizations like the Center for Leadership Development and guide young people to those spaces to help them create purpose in their lives.

“Once you get a sense of purpose, meaning, direction then it becomes easier to follow a path,” Bland says. “It becomes much more challenging to take a deviating path because you know you are actually working against that purpose.”

Along with the satellite locations, leaders plan on expanding their current facility by adding 15,000 square feet to get more young people to their headquarters and establishing an endowment to sustain the organization over time.