About us

Our Mission

The mission of Center for Leadership Development is to foster the advancement of minority youth in Central Indiana as future professional, business and community leaders by providing experiences that encourage personal development and educational attainment.

Indianapolis Youth Development
Indianapolis Youth Development

Our Vision

Establish the Center for Leadership Development as one of the most preeminent centers in the nation for inspiring the highest character and leadership skills and the highest academic college and career achievement in African American youth.

The foundation of CLD’s vision for Indianapolis Youth Development – helping them set high meaningful goals; training them to responsibly handle peer pressure; and motivating them to pursue excellence – rests on instilling in them the CLD Principles for Success. These five core values are fundamental and vital to developing youth and preparing them for the highest levels of personal development, career success and an enriched overall quality of life:

Character Development: CLD empowers youth by instilling valuable lessons that promote respect for self and others, self-worth, integrity, discipline, purpose and other character traits vital to success.

Educational Excellence: CLD inspires, develops and challenges its youth participants to pursue the highest levels of academic and educational achievement.

Leadership Effectiveness: CLD provides youth with the training and practical experiences required to positively lead and serve their peers in schools, churches, organizations, businesses and corporations, neighborhoods and communities.

Community Service: CLD believes that one critical component in becoming a truly effective leader is learning to serve and help the people you lead. CLD demonstrates this commitment to community service and philanthropy by teaching African American and minority youth, the purpose, method and process for rendering service to those in need.

Career Achievement: CLD exposes its youth to the myriad of career opportunities available to them. In addition, CLD facilitates this career achievement by educating young people in the knowledge, skills and educational requirements necessary to realize their career aspirations.

Download 2016-2020 Strategic Plan

Our History

This vision – empowering youth and strengthening community – became clear in the mid 1970’s when Indianapolis community leaders identified several factors, which they believed prohibited or at least severely limited African American youth from achieving, or even aspiring to achieve academic, college and career success. The lack of exposure to the many career opportunities and options available to youth; the lack of awareness of the demands, expectations, and preparation required to excel and take advantage of these great career opportunities; and the absence of a substantial number of African American professionals who could provide this guidance, mentoring, role modeling and simple encouragement all served to stifle the ambitions, hopes, and aspirations of youth.

Responding to the many serious obstacles facing minority youth, these visionary leaders founded Center for Leadership Development. Since that time, CLD has created programs and events which deliver exceptional experiences to both students and parents. The programs are based on the  CLD Five Principles for Success, core values that develop and prepare youth for the highest levels of academic achievement, career success and community service.

CLD board members meet at the Indianapolis Athletic Club to decide on a name for the organization and to draft a job description for the president position.

October 1976

Articles of incorporation are executed and certified. Henry Bundles is installed as the first president of the CLD by unanimous vote. Schulyer F. Otteson is named chairman of the CLD board.

January 1977

First CLD classes are held in the Eli Lilly and Company A-Frame Boy Scout Building at Merrill and New Jersey Streets. There are ten sessions to the program.

September 1977

 First Minority Business in Action seminar is held.

January 1978

First CLD graduation ceremony is held with 109 students receiving a certificate of completion.

March 1978

CLD alumni take the first of many bus trips to Indiana University, Bloomington. 

April 1978

CLD offers a six-week advanced program designed to help students secure summer employment.

July 1978

CLD revamps its Youth Development program to include material from the advanced course and extends the program from ten to thirteen weeks.

August 1978

CLD partners with Indiana University–Purdue University at Indianapolis to offer a six-week Scholastic Aptitude Test prep program.


CLD holds the first Minority Business and Professional Achievers Recognition Award Dinner at the Indianapolis Convention Center 500 ballroom.

March 1981

CLD relocates its classrooms and administrative offices to the Stutz Building at 1036 North Capitol Avenue.


CLD celebrates its tenth anniversary and introduces the Business Orientation Project.


Jerry D. Semler is named Chairman of the CLD board of directors. CLD relocates to Methodist Health Foundation Building at 1812 North Meridian Street.


First year in which a CLD alumnus is nominated for the Business and Professional Achievers Recognition Awards.

March 1988

Project MR. (Male Responsibility) program is launched.


CLD relocates to new facility at 3536 Washington Boulevard. Parent’s Chat program is launched.


CLD celebrates its twentieth anniversary.


Stephen A. Stitle is named to the CLD board of directors


CLD founding president Henry Bundles retires and Dennis Bland is installed as the new president.


Rawls Scholars Medicine Initiative is launched.


Success Prep program is launched.


Imani Book Club is launched.


Robert L. Bowen is named chairman of the CLD board of directors.


CLD celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and receives a $1.4 million grant from the Lilly Endowment for a new state-of-the-art building on Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Street. Precious Miss program is launched.


Groundbreaking ceremony for the Lilly CLD Achievement Center is held. 

October 3, 2007

Junior Self-Discovery/Career Exploration class is offered to fourth to sixth graders.


CLD holds ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Lilly CLD Achievement Center at 2425 Doctor Martin Luther King Jr. Street.

April 13, 2009

CLD College Prep Institute Launch and ribbon cutting is held.

September 12, 2012

Thomas A. King is named chairman of the CLD board of directors.

May 2013

Former CLD Young Adult Advisory Board member Amos Brown hosts CLD Day on his radio talk show Afternoons with Amos.


CLD celebrates its 40th anniversary.

January 3, 2017

In conclusion...

Center for Leadership Development is dedicated to offering a holistic Indianapolis Youth Development experience that inspires, trains, challenges, guides, and encourages African American and minority youth to believe in themselves; set high, meaningful goals; overcome negative peer pressure and other barriers to success; work extremely hard; and attend and graduate college.

Through CLD's mission and efforts, CLD is working to establish CLD as Central Indiana's recognized leader in mining talent and inspiring and developing African American youth for unparalleled success. CLD aims to become recognized as the Central Indiana community's primary source for empowering minority youth and preparing them to achieve the highest levels of excellence and assume meaningful roles of leadership within the community.

CLD is serving Indianapolis and the Central Indiana community by working diligently and consistently to empower African American and minority youth by providing minority them with quality intervention and support. Instead of offering programs that emphasize preventing youth from doing bad, CLD offers quality intervention programs that emphasize to youth, positive actions, positive messages, positive achievement, and positive results. 

CLD educates its participants and provides outstanding professional role models of the great positive rewards and benefits that accrue to those who set high goals, work hard and aspire to achieve success.

For more than forty years, CLD has successfully provided CLD participants with enriching programs and experiences that have served to supplement and reinforce the youths' learning and developmental experience. As a result, 12,000 African American and minority youth (graduates of CLD’s core program, the Self-Discovery/Career Exploration Project), have been trained, nurtured, and guided by CLD to work extremely hard, go to college, and realize their dreams.