Center for Leadership Development Receives $500,000 from Strada Education Network

Two year grant to expand programs for pathways to college enrollment and preparedness

INDIANAPOLIS– On January 1, 2020, Center for Leadership Development (CLD) entered year one of a two year, $500,000 agreement with Strada Education Network. The new grant will provide CLD with the resources required to: increase the number of African American youth engaging in post-secondary endeavors by expanding access to CLD’s 15 programs and increase post-secondary completion rates and workforce preparedness for CLD Alumni (graduates of CLD’s flagship Self-Discovery/Career Exploration Project program) by providing additional support throughout their post-secondary elections.

Specifically, the grant resources and funds the following four areas for expansion:

  1. Staff retention and competitive benefit packages
  2. Enhanced program delivery and technological upgrades
  3. Long-term sustainability
  4. Student outreach and marketing efforts

With support from Strada Education Network, CLD’s mission-centric, values-focused and metrics-driven approach will provide pathways for students from 4th grade through college towards educational excellence culminating in increased high school graduations, better preparedness for post-secondary achievement, enrollment in a pre-planned post-secondary experience and successful attainment of a degree or credential within 4 to 6 years.

CLD is uniquely positioned to bolster Strada Education Network’s efforts towards achieving its core strategic priorities: Education and Career, Student Success and Support, and Career and Workforce Transitions. Through this holistic college preparedness approach, the implementation of this partnership will ensure that African American youth persist, graduate and effectively transition from their academic careers to the workforce ready for a lifetime of excellence.

Strada’s long-term partnership and ongoing strategic investment in CLD has been pivotal to our ability to provide exemplary college readiness support for African American youth in Central Indiana. Our impact is far-reaching, but we recognize there is more to do, and are grateful to Strada Education Network for their continued trust in us to be excellence stewards of their resources.

Relevant Facts and Statistics

  • In a 2017 Measure of America survey conducted by the Social Science Research Council, 19.3% of the African American youth in Central Indiana, ages 16-24, were found to be not engaged in school or work pursuits compared to 10.4% of their white peers.
  • In third through eighth grades in Indianapolis Public Schools, the overall ISTEP+ pass rate in English/language arts is 33% for African American students compared to 59% for their white peers. In math, the divergence is greater – 20.3% for African Americans versus 48.9% for white students. Similar achievement gaps exist in other school districts throughout Marion County.
  • 44% of CLD students come from single-parent households; 47% receive free or reduced lunches and 35% come from one of seven “hot spot” high-crime ZIP codes. CLD has intentionally developed programming and services to address the achievement gap and reaches students and families in challenging circumstances.
  • In 2017, CLD served 4,200 youth and adults and provided 10,200 service touches to these individuals.
  • The high school graduation rate for CLD alumni is 94% compared to an average high school graduation rate of 80% for African American students statewide.
  • CLD’s overall program participant retention is greater than 80%.
  • Tens of thousands of students and parents have gone through programming and/or received services from CLD, and more than 10,000 students have completed Self-Discovery/Career Exploration Project and become CLD alumni.
  • CLD serves students in fourth through 12th grades and their families, then follows and supports CLD alumni to college to increase college completion.
  • By strategically connecting with schools, communities, businesses and industries, higher education, funders and youth and their families, CLD inspires a higher level of academic and career achievement in African American youth.
  • CLD and participating colleges have offered more than $30 million in scholarships for CLD alumni to attend colleges and universities in Indiana and beyond.


 Center for Leadership Development

The Center for Leadership Development offers youth and adult participants an enriching and engaging experience that helps them achieve personal and academic success. Our programs encourage high, realistic expectations and equip youth with the skills, understanding, confidence and hands-on guidance they need to develop personally, excel academically and build a value system of achievement. Over 40 years, we have enriched the lives of more than 20,000 youths and their families. For more information, visit

About Strada Education Network

Strada Education Network is a national social impact organization dedicated to improving lives by forging clearer and more purposeful pathways between education and employment. The Network engages partners across education, nonprofits, business and government to focus relentlessly on students’ success throughout all phases of their working lives. Together, we address critical college to career challenges through strategic philanthropy, research and insights, and mission-aligned affiliates.