Establishing a Proactive Future for Youth
ProAct Indy
ProAct Indy is grateful for the opportunity to submit a $50,000 capacity building request to the Thomas J. and Marjorie S. Gray Foundation. We are inspired by the foundations significant contributions aimed at strengthening vulnerable communities and supporting at-risk residents in overcoming challenges related to poverty and other social injustices. Our country is plagued with inequality in wealth and opportunity, disparities in health care, concentrated poverty, and discrimination in the criminal justice system. We all have the responsibility to respect and embrace our differences and advocate for social justice. ProAct addresses these issues in a unique way – empowering vulnerable cities at-risk youth. As a pioneering critical service-learning organization with a deliberate focus on social justice, we believe our work with disadvantaged youth and underserved neighborhoods coincides beautifully with the priorities of the Foundation. Our mission is to stand in the gap for vulnerable populations while empowering youth to actively transform their communities. Rather than engaging the typical youth in a typical way, ProAct takes traditional service-learning models and turns them upside down. A key tenet to ProAct’s mission is that, while we do “serve” at-risk youth, our youth are not the beneficiaries of our service. Rather, our youth become the givers and creators of service in their schools and neighborhoods and seek to serve with their community rather than to or for their community by focusing on relationships. Further, the youth recruited to participate do not come from the quintessential population of kids targeted by traditional service-learning organizations. Nearly all service-learning organizations target those youth who consistently earn above-average grades and who stand out as “natural leaders.” ProAct targets youth on the opposite end of the spectrum, including economically disadvantaged youth, those who consistently earn below-average grades, and those who do not step up to take leadership roles. By recruiting a mix of students who earn straight-A’s and lack social skills to learn and serve alongside students with straight-D’s who may be very popular among peers, we are able to create an effective, diverse, and dynamic learning environment. Because these groups are so diverse, we address racism, violence, tolerance, and conflict resolution simply by engaging these young people with peers who are different from themselves. Furthermore, by engaging diverse groups of youth with adults in the community from local corporations and community organizations, we are giving our kids experiences they would otherwise not have access to while simultaneously helping the community at large see our youth as positive assets to our community rather than a nuisance to the community. That in and of itself promotes anti-racism, anti-violence, and conflict resolution among the neighbors we serve. It is also important to note that most of the youth recruited by ProAct reside in the urban areas of Indianapolis and we will target these youth in cities in which we expand to where low-income households are the most prevalent. Funding from the Thomas J. and Marjorie S. Gray Foundation will continue to support the capacity-building efforts of our organization as we will create a plan this year to scale our impact into Ohio during the 2022 calendar year. Further, we will continue to refine our digital infrastructure to support our business and program operations, and we will create three additional Proactive Communities alongside two new corporate partners who will work with ProAct and the Foundation to support 100 additional youth from five schools in Indianapolis beginning Fall 2021. We hope the Thomas J. and Marjorie S Gray Foundation will continue to partner with us in our capacity-building efforts.
$50,000  Funded  Inspire