About CLD




The mission of the 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.


This vision – empowering youth and strengthening community – became clear in the mid 1970’s when Indianapolis community leaders identified several reasons why African American youth were failing to graduate from high school, not entering college and failing to achieve economically sound and personally rewarding careers. Youth did not value education as an aspirational goal, they were not aware of the many options available to them, and they did not have the support of family and community. African American role models were not stepping forward in enough force to mentor and guide these young people.

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

Download 2016-2020 Strategic Plan


During the mid 1970’s, 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.

The mission of the Center for Leadership Development “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”.

The foundation of CLD’s vision for developing youth; helping them set high meaningful goals; training them to responsibly handle peer pressure; and motivating them to pursue excellence rests on instilling in these youth, CLD’s Principles for Success.  These CLD Principles for Success are five (5) core principles and values, which we believe 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.

CLD offers fifteen quality developmental programs for middle and high school students and their parents that provide meaningful preparation in the core values of character, education, leadership, service, and career. CLD is making a real difference in the lives of minority youth.  Because of CLD’s strong focus and emphasis on hard work and high achievement, seventy-one (71) percent of CLD graduates report enrolling in some institution of post-secondary learning.  Moreover, over 50 percent of CLD graduates who attend college earn a college degree.  By comparison, only twenty-four (24) percent of Indiana’s African American college students in publicly supported institutions earn a bachelor’s degree in six years.  This level of impact on youth affirms the success and need for CLD’s mission and programs.

In conclusion…

CLD is dedicated to offering a holistic 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 college and graduate.

Through our mission and our efforts, we are 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 our community.

For over forty years now, CLD has served Indianapolis and the Central Indiana community by working diligently and consistently to empower African American and minority youth by providing minority youth with this kind of 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.

Since 1977 CLD has been very successful in providing 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 your dreams.