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A solid foundation: building on the legacy

Indiana Avenue, a solid foundation. Building on the legacy of its founders the Indianapolis Urban League Sam H. Jones Center, serving more than 15,000 Hoosiers annually, remains unique; we convene, we advocate, we educate, we groom young professionals to serve on nonprofit boards, and we provide social and human services.

Daily, the Indianapolis Urban League (IUL) uses its distinct convening power to address widespread and long-term community issues while advocating for civil rights, public policy and education — holding elected officials accountable — aimed for people to define their own future.

Since January, the Indianapolis Urban League launched two new training programs within our workforce development program: Customer Service Call Center and Urban Tech Jobs program; increased our Project Ready college readiness sites, adding a fifth at Warren Central High School; relaunched our INYLHUM (I Need You to Listen, Hear and Understand Me) Tour; and received state recognition for our HIV testing efforts in the community.

The Indianapolis Urban League is committed to offering programming for improved health, healthy food options and personal well-being. With people still testing positive for HIV, in partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health, IUL continues to provide free testing and educational seminars throughout the community in an effort to eradicate HIV. Recently, the

Indiana State Department of Health recognized Leda Evans and Guadelupe Kelle, both counseling and testing specialists for our Special Population Support program, for their testing performance. Combined, they performed 1,134 HIV tests.

This summer, be sure to visit The Black Independent Growers (BIG) Farmer's Markets and encourage your local youth program to schedule an INYLHUM presentation.

The Black Independent Growers (BIG) Farmers Markets, sponsored by the Indianapolis Urban League, affirms and supports Black-owned Indiana farms and gardens. Set in traditional outdoor market-style with music, entertainment and children's activities, The BIG Farmers' Markets offer fresh local produce, herbs, herbal teas, baked goods, cooking demonstrations, natural bath and body products, art, apparel and more. Fresh Bucks and SNAP are accepted. Parking is free at both markets.

Upcoming Indianapolis Urban League events

BIG Farmers' Market

Zion Hope Church

5950 East 46th St.

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays: June 22, Aug. 24, Sept. 28 and Oct. 26

(The July 27 Market will be held at the Community and Family Day at the Indiana Convention Center in conjunction with the National Urban League Annual Conference)

BIG Farmers' Market

St. Andrews Church

4052 East 38th St.

10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sundays: June 23, July 28, Aug. 25, Sept. 29 and Oct. 27

INYLHUM (I Need You to Listen Hear and Understand Me)

INYLHUM is a social health education program that engages and empowers young people to make healthy choices in relationship to others. The program works with schools (K-12), community organizations, along with faith-based organizations by providing the instructions, tools and messages that aid in making positive life choices. Since its inception in 2005, and relaunch in 2015, the INYLHUM tour has served more than 4,000 young people ages 13-24. In alignment with the Indiana Academic Standards for Health and Wellness, INYLHUM has a three-part curriculum divided into seven, two-hour sessions. However, the curriculum is flexible and can be adapted to any schedule or setting.

The INYLHUM Tour will be at the Wheeler-Dowe Boys and Girls Club, LeGore Boys and Girls Club, Keenan-Stahl Boys and Girls Club and V.O.I.C.E.S. Corp.

Contact ncheatham@indplsul.org to bring INYLHUM to your school or organization at no cost.

For more information on the full offering of our programs and services, visit www.indplusl.org.


The White River is getting a facelift, and you can help shape what it looks like

Clocking in at 220 pages, the White River Vision Plan Draft is the culmination of 15 months of community partners across Marion and Hamilton counties working together to reimagine what the White River can look like. But they're not quite done, and there's still time for you to get involved and share your ideas for the river.

The Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development and Visit Indy, along with other organizations, unveiled the plan's draft June 3. The plan affects a 58-mile stretch of the White River and includes specific zones to respect the character of each community along the path. The plan will be posted for 30 days on the White River website, mywhiteriver.com, where community members can submit public comments.

The committee will make any final edits to the plan and reveal a final version later in the summer. Through earlier phases of planning, the committee received more than 13,000 comments and ideas from community members.

"The work is just starting," said Brenda Myers, president and CEO of Hamilton County Tourism. "Today is celebratory because it doesn't just close one phase of planning; it opens another."

For downtown Indianapolis, the plan includes bringing together community partners to redesign the Emrichsville Dam near 16th Street for environmental, water quality and recreational benefits to the near west side. That includes possibly retrofitting the dam into a series of smaller dams that would allow people and wildlife to move more freely and safely down the river.

Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) will play a role in getting those partners together. ROW is a collective impact initiative, meaning it brings together community members, businesses, government agencies and other nonprofits around issues where they can best align. Julie Rhodes, ROW's collective impact director, said ROW has 100-150 partners, and part of her job will be getting as many of those partners as possible involved in the implementation of the plan.

Until then, Rhodes emphasized it's still important for people to give their feedback and continue to shape what the White River Vision Plan will be.

"When the vision plan started, there

was some skepticism from neighborhoods that the process wasn't gonna be inclusive or that the plan was more for bringing in tourism," Rhodes said. "But those who will look at the plan will realize it's been a sincere process of inclusion and community voices."

Other highlights of the plan include a park with a ropes course and launch points for canoes and kayaks, as well as a floating stage for concerts. (A group of arts organizations received a grant last year to build the stage; shows will start June 20.) There's also the possibility of developing winter activities such as ice skating so the river isn't seen as something the community can only enjoy during warmer months.

Gene D'Adamo, president and CEO of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, said he has three goals for the White River that he hopes his organization can contribute to: improving water quality, increasing public access and growing appreciation for the river. Last summer, the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust announced $4.9 million in grants to launch the Partners of the White River collaboration and to support the White River Alliance.

No matter what the finished product looks like, it'll take years, maybe even decades, for everything to be established. That's partly because of financing, which hasn't been finalized. In an interview in February, Brad Beaubien, Indianapolis' administrator of long-range planning for the Department of Metropolitan Development, said he could imagine local governments pitching in, as well as state resources and even federal help.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

SHARE YOUR IDEAS

The White River Vision Plan is not finalized, and you can still give ideas and feedback for what you'd like to see the river become at mywhiteriver.com. The committee will take comments through June 30, and the final plan will be released later in the summer.


New library comes to the west side

Indianapolis Public Library's new Eagle branch isn't even two miles from its old location at the corner of 34th Street and Lowry Road, but library readers anticipate moving to a bigger facility in a more visible location will make the branch more useful to the diverse patrons on the west side.

The new Eagle branch, which opened June 1, is housed in a 20,000-square-foot building just off of 38th Street on Moller Road. Along with some 50,000 books and other items, the library has a children's space, study rooms, more computers and a community room that can seat 100 people.

"We'd like to provide a welcoming area for the diverse community that we serve," Branch Manager Mary Agnes Hylton said, "and we want to make sure that they're aware of all the resources the library has to offer."

Some of the perks of the new location are basic things such as more parking and better lighting, but the branch also expanded its multi-language collection, since the west side of Indianapolis is home to many Spanish-speaking residents. The different sections of the library, including adults and teens, are color coded to eliminate a potential language barrier. The children's area has a Call-a-Story booth, where children can sit and hear stories. (They can also call to hear a story from any location by calling

317-275-4444. There are options for English and Spanish.)

The new location is by a Meijer, so Hylton said she hopes more people see the library as they go about their everyday lives. She said the old location made the library seem "invisible" because people didn't know it was there.

The Eagle branch is the newest of Indianapolis Public Library's branches that are moving. The Michigan Road branch, which replaced the Flanner House branch, opened in December 2018. New libraries are being built in Perry Township and at Fort Benjamin Harrison.

The Brightwood Branch is one of the libraries that's relocating. After being in the same rented space since 1972, the branch is moving to a new building across the street from its current location on North Sherman Drive. It's on track to open in the fall of 2019.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

NEW AND MOVING LIBRARY BRANCHES

Eagle — Moved from 3325 Lowry

Road to 3905 N. Moller Road

Brightwood — Moving from 2435

N. Sherman Drive to 25th Street and Sherman Drive (fall 2019)

Glendale — Moving from 6101 N.

Keystone Ave. to library-owned property (2022)

West Perry — Coming in 2021

Fort Benjamin Harrison — Coming in 2021


Education leader praises The Mind Trust, brings attention to disparities in schools

School is often more than just a place for learning. For John King, it was a safe haven. School was a place he could go to and finally feel like a child. Public school systems saved his life and have since helped him change the lives of others.

The former U.S. Secretary of Education spoke June 3 at The Mind Trust's Celebrating Education Progress event. The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that advocates for charter and Innovation Network Schools.

King, a leading voice in educational inequity, highlighted what schools can and should be through hard work, dedication and accountability.

Both of King's parents died before he was 12, making home a scary and unstable place. But according to King, New York City public school teachers saved his life.

"It was always teachers who made school have a sense of hope," King said.

King believes a well-rounded education starts as early as preschool. While being in school is important, having proper assistance throughout school is just as crucial. Resources often lack in marginalized areas, and students of color are less likely to attend schools with advanced coursework.

"All students deserve resources," King said.

King praised Indiana schools for working to combat these systemic issues. According to King, Indiana charter schools have been giving students substantial educational opportunities. But he made it clear that they should never be satisfied.

"You need a commitment to do more and do it faster," King said.

King believes it is necessary to provide access to safe and supportive environments, specifically where vulnerable students are most affected. He believes it is important to recognize trauma and its impact on students.

African Americans are three times more likely than their peers to be suspended from school, King said. This starts as early as pre-K, with 48 percent of suspended students being African American.

"It should not be a school-to-prison pipeline," King said. "I was blessed people saw me as more than the sum of my mistakes."

King highlighted the importance of diversity in education. Only 18 percent of teachers are of color, with just 2 percent being Black men. Representation matters, and King emphasized that having at least one African American teacher can enhance the learning experience of a student.

King said accountability and collaboration are key components in creating successful schools. Charter schools are not uniformly excelling, so it is necessary that successful schools support struggling schools.

He commended The Mind Trust for doing just that, through helping people learn what works.

King believes education does not end once K-12 is complete.

"It's not just getting students across the stage but finishing college," he said. "It is not just about getting students to college but through college."

Contact newsroom intern Jaclyn Ferguson at newsroom@indyrecorder.com.