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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The Brookside neighborhood on Indianapolis’ east side used to be one of the highest crime communities in the city.

People once called it “the swamp.”

Today, it’s one of Indy’s most improved neighborhoods. Crime and drug activity are both down. Brookside is healthy, vibrant and still making lots of progress.

Residents now sit on their porches getting to know each other and the culture of community is so rich, some people are even moving from the suburbs just to be part of what’s happening there.

The transformation in Brookside is the result of neighbors targeting generational poverty, unemployment and systematic hopelessness. It’s also community driven and family focused.

“We follow a very simple basic model, said pastor Dale Shaw. “You can build a healthy community based on these 5 pillars.”

Safe, affordable homes:

The Heart Change Ministry is giving women a biblical foundation for how to live and raise their children. Once women graduate from Heart Change and Mother’s University, they have the opportunity to lease a newly-rehabilitated home in Brookside so they are in a community that is reinforcing the values and life changes they’ve made.

Strong schools:

Children attend strong schools like the private Oaks Academy were students go on to the finest public and private high schools and 92 percent of students go on to college.

“We are intentionally diverse, said Head of School Kelly Altman. “We are racially diverse and socioeconomically diverse. This is a Christ-centered school and all agree that we want to see children have an outstanding education.”

Economic development that brings jobs:

Purposeful Design, LLC does custom woodworking for homes, businesses, and corporate conference rooms. The men who work here are coming out of addictions and other life troubles. At Purposeful Design, men get biblical teaching and mentoring helping them restore their lives and families. It’s economic development bringing jobs and hope and lasting restoration to families in the community.

Jesus-centered churches:

Every neighbor we met pointed to Jesus-centered churches as the foundational pillar; transforming people’s hearts so that lasting change can take root in the community.

“You can do a lot with external but until there is an internal heart change and inner transformation, real and lasting change won’t take place,” said Shaw.

Culture of place and relationship:

This gives children stability and familiarity. Children know who lives in their neighborhood, and they can build lasting relationships.

Each pillar is deeply embedded within the culture of the Brookside community and all five work together while also reinforcing the next.

IMPD Chief Troy Riggs agrees. Because of the culture of community and kind of changes you see in Brookside, he says it’s easier for the police and city to come in and work alongside the residents as reinforcements.

“One by one, lives are being changed. One home is being restored at a time and when you do that, one block, one neighborhood and one city is restored at a time,” said Riggs.

The progress continues in Brookside, and if you would like more information on the 5 pillars and ministries, how they are being implemented, or if you’d like to help with any Brookside program or ministry, get more information in the links above.