Pursuing Educational Dreams through A New Neighborhood-Based Education and Career Initiative
A brand new program will soon help entire families reach their educational goals. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and its partners are launching an Indianapolis neighborhood-based education and career initiative known as the Mid-North Promise Program (MNPP).
Promise programs across the country typically provide local, place-based college support for graduating high school students from a specific school district, city, or town. The Mid-North Promise Program will serve as a new national model, as it will be the first Promise program in the nation to focus on a neighborhood anchored by a cultural institution, and the first to take a family approach and provide support for both children and adults from cradle-to-career, including college enrollment and workforce certifications.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is launching the new program with the support of leading national and local organizations committed to community success through education and career development. It will specifically assist those families with children pre-K through 12th grade who live within one of the six neighborhoods in the Mid-North area: Crown Hill, Highland Vicinity, Historic Meridian Park, Historic Watson Park, Mapleton-Fall Creek, and Meridian Highland.
MNPP will go beyond traditional scholarship-based initiatives by providing a dedicated Family Learning Navigator, who will help connect family members to educational and family support resources in an effort to elevate college graduation and employment rates. The Family Learning Navigator will be dedicated to working directly with families to develop individualized family learning plans, provide referrals to partner resources in the community, and help the entire family navigate the best ways to attain a positive educational track in pursuit of post-secondary degrees or career success. Because of this designated Family Learning Navigator, The Children’s Museum will serve as a hub for family educational support. “We are reaching out in a very personal way to invest in families in the Mid-North neighborhoods by helping them pursue their educational goals through scholarships to attend our preschool, afterschool and out-of-school-time programs, as well as post-secondary learning and workforce development tuition assistance grants for youth and their parents,” said Dr. Jeffrey H. Patchen, president and CEO, The Children’s Museum. “Through these ‘cradle-to-career’ investments, our neighborhood families will have a unique opportunity to benefit from the family learning resources of the museum, our community and our post-secondary partners.”
In addition to the Family Learning Navigator, MNPP will offer cradle-to-career services to guide Mid-North families on their educational path no matter what stage they are in their education. There will be a continuum of low or no-cost learning opportunities available at the museum, designed specifically for neighborhood youth, from preschool, afterschool and summer learning programs, to a teen apprentice program, to family learning events and free family memberships. Free school memberships will be provided to neighborhood public and charter schools, providing unlimited visits to the museum for local teachers and their students. Scholarships, or financial assistance will be made available for children and their parents participating in MNPP and pursuing educational goals. This support is designed as last-dollar support to help cover financial needs in college tuition, professional certification, tuition to the museum preschool program, or other educational needs determined through the MNPP.
Multiple partners have joined the project to insure optimal opportunities for the museum’s neighbors when it comes to youth development, adult remediation (high school diploma or equivalent), higher education, and career development. MNPP is made possible through the support of the Lumina Foundation, Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Indiana Youth Institute, and generous individual donors Susan and Jim Naus and the Sterrett Family Foundation. “The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is starting an ambitious, unique program— one that has the potential to change the lives of all residents in Indianapolis' Mid-North neighborhoods,” said Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation. “By helping students and their families navigate to and through college, in addition to providing them with financial assistance, the museum is intensifying the already important role it plays in our community. Lumina Foundation, based here in Indianapolis, is thrilled to be a partner with The Children’s Museum as it launches this work.”
The Children’s Museum is working with higher education partners including Ivy Tech Community College, IUPUI (Indiana University - Purdue University - Indianapolis), and WGU Indiana. There are also more than 30 other community partners making this transformative program possible.
It is important to note that The Mid-North area includes more than 10,000 residents, with 42% of area families with children living in poverty, and nearly 51% bringing in a household income below $25,000. Even more challenging, many do not have a high school diploma or post-high school degree or certification. With the help of the dedicated partners listed above, The Children’s Museum plans to improve educational attainment and career outcomes.
“The Children’s Museum is investing in our community in a meaningful way, helping people achieve their educational goals and better their way of life,” said Dr. Kathleen Lee, chancellor of Ivy Tech Central Indiana. “Ivy Tech is proud to come alongside them as an educational partner to help increase college attainment, starting right here in our own backyard.”
“IUPUI is proud to partner with The Children’s Museum on the Mid-North Promise Program, which will provide unprecedented educational opportunities for those in Mid-North neighborhoods,” said IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar. “This partnership exemplifies what can happen when institutions, organizations, and individuals come together to make a difference in our community.”
“As Indiana’s online university, WGU Indiana is proud to participate in a program that allows adult learners to return to school and pursue career success through degree attainment,” said Allison Barber, chancellor of WGU Indiana.
“LISC is excited to see The Children’s Museum advancing one of the most innovative ideas in the Mid-North Quality of Life Plan. This Educational Promise can help long-time residents gain valuable work skills and attract young families to the neighborhood, which are also key goals of the Great Places 2020 Initiative,” said Bill Taft, executive director, LISC Indianapolis.