INDIANAPOLIS — A program in Indianapolis’ far east side neighborhood is helping young men and women better themselves.
The Pivot Program is located at the Boys and Girls Club on North Post Road, just across the street from one of the deadliest areas in Indianapolis.
Census tract 3308.03 is the stretch of land between North Post Road and North Mitthoeffer Road on the east and west side and East 42nd Street and East 38th Street on the north and south side. 3,638 people call this area home.
This little over a half-mile square area has seen 10 homicides so far in 2021, the most of any census tract in the city.
“It’s very scary,” said Janai Johnson. “This neighborhood, you know, the surrounding town is very bad, and I don’t want to be on this side of town, so I’m trying to do everything in my power to get away from this side.”
Johnson is one of the members of the Pivot Program. She has been a participant in the program for the past two months. She said it has helped her think about her future.
The Pivot Program engages young men and women between the ages of 16-24 who live in the far east side neighborhood who are not enrolled in school or employed. They work with these people to build positive relationships and engage them in high school equivalency or job placement programs.
According to the latest census information, there are 258 adults in the area across the street from the Pivot Program’s location with some high school education but no diploma, while 84 adults do not any high school education.
They received $100,000 from the Office of Public Health and Safety as a part of the violence reduction grant program to help them engage those who are at the highest risk of becoming perpetrators or victims of violence.
“We tried to put together a program that will facilitate or encourage those individuals who have not been motivated to get encouraged, to get motivated, to give them an opportunity, and a lot of times it is just investing that time,” said Eric Davenport, director of the Reengagement Center, Boys and Girls Club Finish Line.
So far in 2021, the demographic of men age 20-24 make up the largest group of homicide victims in Indianapolis. Of the city’s 230 homicides to date, 63 of the victims have fallen within the organization’s target demographic.
Mayor Joe Hogsett said programs like this are essential for crime prevention.
“The more skill level that we provide to young people in Indianapolis, the more employable they become, and frankly when they’re employed and are productive, they’re probably going to avoid making bad decisions and getting involved in any kind of criminal activity,” said Mayor Hogsett.
The program is also good for the economy. With more better-skilled workers available, employers will be able to help fill the many job openings in the city.
According to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the area next to the Boys and Girls Club on North Post Road has a 22.9% unemployment rate compared to the national average of 13%.
Mayor Hogsett said they want these individuals to improve their skill level to take advantage of opportunities.
“Not only do we want them to have education and a career, a job and then a better job, but we also I think are trying to help them attain the skill level to take advantage of these good opportunities, and I do believe that they begin this process sincerely wanting a change in their life,” said Mayor Hogsett.
For Johnson, she said the program is helping her out of a rough patch to build a better life.
“It makes me motivational to build, and since I’ve started I’m working now, doing a little helping, so it’s very making me go grow,” Janai said.
The Pivot Program is a two-week program. For more information, visit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis website.