Indianapolis church helping young people launch businesses with crime prevention grant

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Posted at 9:18 PM, Dec 21, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — A small west side church is working to provide opportunities for young people after receiving a grant from the Council District Crime Prevention Grants Program.

Leaders at West Morris Church launched Project Lydia in November.

The goal of the program is to provide tools for seven innovators to follow their passion and ultimately turn it into a business.

"I want to do real estate fix and flip," Shay Harper said.

Harper grew up in Indianapolis, the 23-year-old recently returned home after graduating from college in West Virginia.

"Coming to Project Lydia lets me know there are people that want to connect and help, no matter if you are starting from scratch," Harper said.

During weekly sessions, the innovators developed their business plan and budget. They also brainstormed ways to market their business.

Each innovator worked directly with a graphic designer to create a logo for their business and Project Lydia provided them with business cards.

"Project Lydia has showed me I can do it on my own without having to rely on someone else," Queen Asante said.

Asante is working to become a full-time professional photographer. Asante and the other innovators received a $500 grant from Project Lydia. She plans to use the money to buy equipment for her business.

West Morris Senior Pastor Kristen Marble said the crime prevention grant is giving them an opportunity to put money into the hands of the people they are trying to help. It's also giving young people an opportunity to take a positive step forward.

"This community is a food desert," Marble said. "There's just not a lot of opportunity. We thought what a cool way to help young adults start their own business to really build on their passions and gifts and at the same time create businesses in the community that will help the community as well."

The six-week program ended on Monday. All of the innovators presented their business plans to the Project Lydia Advisory Team and they are now working towards launching.

Marble is hopeful that Project Lydia will not only impact the lives of each innovator, but the entire community.

"By helping individuals really grow into the things they have been created to do and take positive steps for themselves and their families, I think it does impact crime and overall community health," Marble said.

Marble hopes to do another round of Project Lydia in the future, but details have not been finalized.

According to a release about the Council District Crime Prevention Grant Program, grant-making prioritized neighborhood-based, resident-driven, grassroots, and nontraditional organizations as a way of empowering neighborhoods to help build a safer community.

The release states, the Council District Crime Prevention Grant program is a pilot effort. You can read more here.