INDIANAPOLIS — Over the next three years, the City of Indianapolis will spend $45 million on grassroots organizations addressing violence and public safety.
An example of those types of programs is VOICES Corp. and its Power and Promise initiative.
Between January and June of this year, 175 students will graduate from Power and Promise’s six-week program. In total in 2021, 166 young people graduated.
“We have put in a lot of work this year, ” Power and Promise facilitator Brandon Randall said.
Power and Promise’s curriculum centers on healing from trauma, empathy, emotional intelligence, social justice and community advocacy.
“You know, 42nd and Post or whatever may get a bad rep, but there are people that have lived at 42nd and Post for the last 30 years, they don’t feel that way,” teacher Rick Wedlow said. “They love their community, they do whatever they can for their community. So, we were able to just look at things from a different angle.”
Lawrence North High School sophomore Adrianna Woods is a talented student-athlete who is preparing for her next track meet.
“I was sectional champ for all four of my events,” Woods said.
Woods is able to positively impact her teammates and their mental health through the lessons she’s learned in Power and Promise.
“This really helped a lot of kids open up and talk about what they have going on and learn that, wow, there’s someone else doing the same stuff I am,'” Woods explained.
Since 2018, VOICES Corp. has received at least $498,172 from city funding and CICF grants. About $235,000 has gone specifically to the Power and Promise program. Roughly 60% of the dollars are given to students via a stipend upon completing the program.
“Hopefully platforms and programs like Power and Promise help them with a different perspective,” Wedlow said. “A more positive perspective, a better perspective where they can make a difference in their community.”
Randall helps coordinate this program at six schools, the Marion County Jail, Community Alliance of the Far Eastide, virtual cohorts, VOICES Day Reporting and the Windsor Park apartments. Graduate Desmond Turner said Power and Promise has helped him make more friends and build stronger relationships.
“Some kids, they don’t have people they can talk to and tell how they feel about they trauma, so Mr. Wedlow and Mr. Brandon let us be heard,” Turner said.
Wedlow said programs like this reach young people in ways regular classes cannot.
“It’s about the opportunity that they have to express themselves and to voice their opinions, to voice their feelings,” Wedlow said. “But also listen and become active communicators by listening, communicating and just be open to others’ points of view.”
According to the most recent contract between the City of Indianapolis and VOICES for $100,000 going toward Power and Promise, VOICES has to collect and submit quantitative data and submit quarterly reports.
According to the contract, VOICES reports its programs provided the following outcomes in 2020:
- 75% of students report an increase in self-control/emotional regulation
- 91% of students did not have a new charge filed during program participation
- 63% of students reported an increase in skills to handle conflict without violence