INDIANAPOLIS — The goal for Mackida Loveal & Trip Outreach Center on Sherman Drive is to provide a safe place for kids on the east side to grow and learn.
"I grew up in this area, the Brentwood area. Man, it was rough," Fletcher Triplett, founder of Mackida Loveal & Trip Outreach, said. "To come and be able to give back now. I know what it takes and what they need. And I want to give it to them.
Starting the center was a dream for Fletcher Triplett and his wife LaShauna.
"We help them learn skills and trades to keep them out of prison because a lot of times they want to do crimes," LaShauna said. "A lot of times the reasons they give us our we were hungry. I was trying to help my mom or someone pay a bill … We want to show them how you can do it in an earnest way."
The center's program called 'RACE' stands for Reaching A Course of Excellence. RACE targets kids that have been expelled from school and need help getting back on track.
"We receive calls, 'my child has been expelled from school; I have nothing for them to do. They are just sitting at home,'" LaShauna said. "A lot of times, those youth begin to have delinquent behaviors so we want to help cut that."
Nylaja Veal is one of those students. With a new baby to take care of, she's ready to leave a life of fighting and trouble behind.
"It's going to be people that always push you to do stuff," Veal said. "You just have to learn that you don't have to react to them all the time it's not going to get you nowhere but to fail."
The outreach center partners with Eskenazi's 'Indy Heart Beat,' which provides violence prevention resources. And the center focuses on tutoring and life skills.
"Trustworthy, respectful, independent people," Triplett said. "I know if I teach them those life skills, they can go make better decisions to help save lives and save their own life."
It's a model that is already seeing success, with a 91 percent graduation rate. And even more than that, bringing a community together and ultimately helping reduce crime.
The outreach center is being awarded $50,000 through the city's crime prevention grant program. It's one of 54 different projects awarded.
The center plans to use the money to help even more kids, and offer more services to benefit their lives.