Phalen Leadership Academy in need of 20 new classrooms, new gym to keep up with high demand

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A school on the far east side is in desperate need of help.

Phalen Leadership Academy opened its doors in 2017. It’s an A-rated, tuition-free charter school for grades 7-10. Their goal was to provide a safe place for education, in one of the city’s most dangerous zip codes.

Photo from inside the school

They’re working to do just that, but they’re having a hard time keeping up with the high demand. Right now, only half of their school is operating, while the other half sits empty. You’ll find unfinished classrooms, hallways stacked with boxes and trash scattered on the floor.

“When we started, we didn’t have clocks, bells, we didn’t have anything,” said Gwendolyn Hardiman, Phalen Leadership Academy’s Chief of Staff, “So, it’s just like watching a baby. We started off crawling, and now we’re ramping it up. It’s very exciting.”

Hardiman says their kids deserve better, because for many this school is like a home.

“They really consider this school as a home,” described freshman Darrance Jennings.

“Having someone to run to, talk to, or a place to stay,” added freshman Kyronn Swangan.

Jyaih Stevnson, also a freshman, said, “They were showing me a different route than how I grew up.”

Right now, 275 kids go to school here. That number could soon increase to 600 or more.

“We see students come in everyday wanting an application,” said Hardiman.

That’s why Phalen Leadership Academy, along with its students, are hoping to find a way to pay for 20 new classrooms and a bigger gym.  So far, the Phalen Leadership Academy has raised $525.

According to their fundraising website:

Phalen Leadership Academy opened its doors on the Far Eastside of Indianapolis to scholars in 2017. We earned an “A” rating from the state of Indiana in only one year. The only other high school on the Far Eastside of Indianapolis, John Marshall, was closed after years of failure and violence plagued the school. Being located in the city’s most dangerous zip code is a serious challenge for our scholars. We are in DESPERATE NEED OF A GYM. Our scholars deserve a safe place to play. Our goal is to provide them with a space for education and play that will keep them off of the streets. This community needs a facility for safe sports and recreation. PLEASE JOIN OUR TEAM IN SUPPORTING THESE SCHOLARS.

“When teens stay busy they’re out of trouble. If we get the bigger gym, it will help,” added Freshman, Tony Crawford.

With a price tag of $3.5 million to complete the gym portion, it’s going to take some work. They believe in total the construction could end up costing $15 million. Hardiman says, it’s critical they clean up the mess that consumes half of the school not just for her students, but for the far east side.

“It has not had an abundance of build-up,” said Hardiman, “There’s been a lot of destroy and torn-down, but this is a time to raise from the ashes.”

If you would like to help Phalen Leadership Academy reach their current goal of $3.5 million, you can reach out to the school by calling (317) 552-1600. You can also visit their website by clicking here.

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