INDIANAPOLIS — Most people see the Children's Museum of Indianapolis as a place to visit, but the 10,000 people who live around it are failing to take advantage of the services and programs it offers.
They include programs to help with career readiness and scholarships for higher education whether you are 18 or 45 or 70.
Sha'Nel Henderson was a barista in the cafe at the Children's Museum. After six years at the museum, she signed up with the Old National Bank Mid-North Promise Program, which is managed by the museum and offers many services and benefits.
The only string attached is that you have to live in one of the neighborhoods around the museum, including Crown Hill, Highland Vicinity, Historic Meridian Park, Historic Watson Park, Mapleton-Fall Creek and Meridian Highland.
"At the time, I didn't think I was ready for it," Henderson said.
She's not alone. A small number of the 10,000 people who live in the six neighborhoods are taking advantage of the services being offered, which includes discounts on admission to the museum and during the pandemic, assistance with utilities and purchasing computers for children learning from home.
"Programs like ours give people a leg up to be able to stay in the community they they were born and raised in because we offer resources to be able to do that," Promise Program manager Angela Henderson said.
In 2016, the museum provided $3,800 in scholarships. By 2020, it was $51,000. It's money to help teens and adults seeking to do better.
"It helps us all, not just the museum," community initiatives director Shanna Martin said. "It helps everybody. Want to play a role in that. We are committed to doing that."
Like the place that legs children explore and engage, Sha'Nel Henderson exhibited a desire to dream big. With her scholarship from the Old National Bank Mid-North Promise Program, she earned a Bachelors Degree from IUPUI in communications and theatre. Now, she's looking for a job in public relations for the arts.
"I'm truly standing on my ancestors' shoulders," Sha'Nel Henderson said. "The people who invested in me, giving them something, those that are living. It's like being in a place where you've been in the dark so long and then you can see the light."
The museum is currently working with 73 families, which represents 400 people. Call 317-334-4000 and ask for community initiatives to connect with the Old National Bank Mid-North Promise Program. Then leave a voice message saying you're interested in the program.
If you don't live in the six neighborhoods around the museum, you could still be eligible for the access pass. Hoosiers who receive taxpayer-funded health care or food assistance, like SNAP and TANF, can get the pass, which allows people to visit the Children's Museum of Indianapolis and other venues statewide for $2 a person year round.