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INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Indianapolis continues battling a public safety crisis, and the need to provide supportive environments for children and teens is as important as ever.

Sadly since 2019, at least 75 kids ages 18 and younger have been killed, and those deaths take a major toll on our youth. But the good news is, there are people working to uplift teens and young adults across Indianapolis.

The Center for Leadership Development is preparing to welcome a new group of young people into their Project MR program. The MR stands for male responsibility.

For 30 years, Project MR has equipped kids to be responsible, positive and high achieving.

“That guidance is provided by African American males which are also then doubling as role models and mentors,” Dennis Bland, president, said.

CLD gives teens space to flourish. Project MR is a 6-week program held at several different sites.

“We’re particularly earmarking those areas that seem to have the greatest challenges in terms of crime, some of the greatest challenges in terms of economics,” Bland said.

The Community Alliance of the Far Eastside is the newest satellite location, and the program will be held there on Tuesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., beginning October 5. There is a mandatory orientation on Sept. 23 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

“Young people have the opportunity to learn about the value of their life, not to be taken for granted,” Bland explained.

VOICES Corp.’s Power and Promise is also expanding. As of tomorrow, 100 students, ages 13-24, will have graduated from their 6-week program since January. That amount is projected to grow to 200 graduates by the end of October.

“It doesn’t matter their background; it doesn’t matter where they’re currently located,” VOICES Director of Engagement Brandon Randall said. “They are all a part of this collective of leaders.”

Power and Promise meets in schools, apartment complexes, and the Marion County Jail. Randall brings a curriculum but creating a safe place for young people takes precedence.

“There may be days that that’s just not what we’re going to talk about,” Randall said of the material. “Depending on what’s happening at the school, the students who are there, are they going through something that day?”

If you would like more information about Power and Promise, you can reach Randall at

A few other youth programs include: