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Achieve Indy

Empowering youth to break the bonds of poverty.

My Blog


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Through Faith and Education

Posted on October 24, 2011 at 4:02 PM Comments comments (73)
At Achieve International we seek to help kids redirect their lives. This starts with understanding that they are not an accident but were created by the God of our universe.  We offer kids hope in the form of our Lord Jesus.  We don’t do this in an effort to clean kids up or so they will stop cursing and double parking downtown but rather, we do this because when a kid truly embraces their faith, they allow themselves to be defined not by the streets, teachers or police officers but rather,  by THE CHRIST! When this happens we see radical transformation. I could spend days telling stories of kids who have transformed their lives.  Father Greg Boyle in his book “Tattoos of The Heart” said “If there is a fundamental challenge within these stories, it is simply to change our lurking suspicion that some lives matter less than other lives.” We exist first to Glorify our Lord and second to help kids Transform their lives through faith and education!
Indiana dropout rates are alarming with and average of 3 students dropping out every day.  Indianapolis has amongst the highest dropout rate of not only Indiana, but also the nation. A large number of Indianapolis and surrounding area schools have a dropout rate of around fifty-percent, which has earned them the label of “Dropout Factories” by John Hopkins University researches.  At Achieve International we say that this is not ok. We intervene in the lives of inner-city youth and help them transform their lives through faith and education. We take a holistic approach in helping kids.  With such an overwhelming and daunting task we must ask the question “Where do we start?” We start by accepting the fact that we simply cannot help every kid. We can only help those who want the help and are willing to do the hard work it takes to achieve it. We have partnered with such organizations such as HYCA (Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy),Job Corps, Day Adult, the Walker Career Center and Diploma Plus.  It is our hope that every kid will earn a high school diploma but this is simply not a reality for many kids.   Through the use of the PLATO online credit recovery system over half of the high school dropouts that enter our program are able to obtain a high school diploma. For those who a high school diploma is not a reality we look to accredited GED programs.  We don’t stop a just finishing their high school education.  Getting a diploma or a GED is a non-negotiable at Achieve International. Once this mandatory milestone is achieved we look at getting them enrolled in college, trade school, apprenticeship programs and the military. We have witnessed hundreds of kids re-enroll in school and take back their high school education.   We are currently praying about having a computer lab onsite at Achieve for kids to work on their credit recovery. Thank you all for your love and support!

College and Beyond

Posted on August 24, 2011 at 3:38 PM Comments comments (3577)
At Achieve International when a kid comes in to our program we work with them to set an academic, spiritual and physical goal. Today I want to highlight the academic. The academic goals vary from kid to kid. We strive to help them set realistic, measurable, and achievable goals.  For some students that means making the honor-roll while for others just making a C is a major accomplishment.  We do all we can to help kids earn a high school diploma. The sad reality is, some come to our program too late. For those kids we help them earn a G.E.D.. There are many programs that we have partnered with to help achieve our academic goals, Diploma Plus, The Hoosier Youth Academy and The Job Core are among the most common.  Once a kid has earned a high school diploma or a G.E.D. we work with them to further their education. For some this is simply a trade school or certification. We really focus our energy on getting them into college. I would like to highlight and honor Achieve International’s first college graduate Ricky Parke.
When I first met Ricky he was a street smart yet mild mannered kid. He was fresh out of high school and got into some trouble picking himself up a D.U.I.. Ricky joined our boxing team and enrolled in Ivy Tech. Ricky experienced many highs and lows , successes and failures as he earned an Associate degree in nursing. It was my highest honor to watch Ricky’s life transform before my eyes.
In Indiana to be a nurse you must pass a state exam (NCLEX). The Indiana Board of Nursing reviews each case individually before allowing the test to be taken. In Ricky’s case, the board took exception to his troubled past and criminal history. I had the honor of writing the board on his behalf and told them of the man I watched Ricky grow to become. I told them how he was a leader  and a beacon of hope for every kid in our program. If  Ricky could make it they could too. After reviewing all of the evidence the board allowed him to take the test and he aced it on his first try.
Elated at the news, I passed the great story on to our board at A.I. .  One of our sponsors and board members has connections at a local hospital and offered to help Ricky gain employment. I called Ricky to tell him the news but he never returned my calls. I constantly pursued him over the next couple of weeks in hopes of helping him gain employment using his degree. My frustration and concern grew as time passed with no response.  Yesterday, Ricky came into the gym wearing hospital scrubs and a prodigious smile. I instantly began interrogating him as to why he didn’t follow up on the job lead. Ricky looked me in my eye and with the upmost pride and confidence said “Coach, I didn’t want help! I wanted to do it on my own! I got a a Job! I am working at Methodist Hospital.”. Ricky went on to tell me of his salary and all about the interview process.
Ricky hopes to further his education as he works in the medical field. Ricky has paved the way as Achieve International’s first college graduate. Words cannot express the onslaught of emotion I feel as I think of Ricky’s future and all the obstacles that he has over came. We currently have five students that enrolled as college freshman this semester. One of our kids is studying respiratory therapy while another in on a full-ride scholarship studying civil engineering. None of our students are borrowing money or taking out student loans and will never know the slavery that accompanies the large debt of an education. Thanks to our sponsors for helping educate and finance our student’s future.
We introduce Kids to the Amazing Love of The Christ and walk beside them as they achieve academic success. Ricky has truly transformed his life through faith and education and others are following in his footsteps.

End of Summer and The blind shall see

Posted on August 3, 2011 at 8:05 PM Comments comments (149)
Wow what a summer! We have seen our Lord do some amazing
things. Every day we are watching lives be transformed through
faith and education.  Set forth below are some highlights from
this summer. 
1. We moved into our new location.
2. We have filled the bellies of hundreds of kids.
3. Eight of our guys have held down jobs for the entire summer and will continue employment throughout the school year.
4. One kid earned a 17k scholarship to HYCA and has graduated pre-challenge.
5. Two of our guys worked extra hard in summer school earning enough credits to graduate their senior year on time.
6. One of our long time students earned his EMR and EMT certification.
7. We have six guys enrolled and starting college this August. Four at Ivy Tech and two at IUPUI.
8.  One  student took his placement test at IUPUI and was expecting to need several remedial classes. To all of our shock he scored so high in math that he received a full ride scholarship from the school and was accepted into their  Civil engineering program.
9. We took our scholars for a day of fun and celebration at Holiday World and Splashing Safari.
10. We competed in boxing tournaments all over Indiana and achieved a high level of success.
11. We have celibrated our first College graduate. In addition he has passed the NCLEX earning his nursing liscesne.
In all, it has been an amazing summer.
Let me conclude with one final story. One of our  kids has the nick name is  “Big’em” as he is the bigger
of he and his twin brother. Big’em is a extremely small for his age of 14. He loves animals and the kids
call him the “urban Steve Irwin”. Big’em has brought everything from rats , raccoons and snakes to the
gym. He loves these wild animals and oddly enough they seem to love him back.   A few years back he
was shot with a BB gun just above  his eye causing a blinding cataract.  One day, a Dr. friend and
supporter of A.I. stopped by the gym to see our new location. He noticed the blinding cataract and
mentioned that it may be possible to remove the cataract and restore Big’em’s sight.  We made a follow
up call to another friend who is an eye surgeon and he is interested in helping the young man receive sight
in his bad eye. Early this September we will take Big’em and his mother to their first consultation.  Please
join us in prayer as they attempt to restore sight to this young man. It is amazing to see the hope that was
instilled in a kid who was complacent to live blind in one eye. WOW!! That’s how our Lord works. He
uses a fresh set of eyes to notice the blind and then gives them sight. I recall the scripture in John 9 where
Jesus gave the blind man sight. “He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my
eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see." 
 I am grateful for the front row seat our Lord has given me to this mission.  We will cap off our summer
by competing under a tent this Saturday at the Black Expo in Anderson.  After that we will shut our doors
for two weeks to get kids settled in to school. We will re-open Aug 22 and begin our fall hours. We are
still in need of tutors for our study tables. Please join us in prayer as we take it to the streets and transform
lives through faith and education.  I also ask that you will lift up in prayer the Blackburn family. Personal
friends and supporters of A.I., the Blackburns’have suffered a great loss. Please add them to your daily
Isaiah 35:5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

New Achieve International Building

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 11:03 PM Comments comments (28)
Achieve International has moved into its new location. Our new building is in the Brookside Industrial complex on the east side of Indianapolis. This serves as a perfect location for the kids in our programs. We share the complex with the IMPD Gang task force and a wonderful Christian Day care. Many don’t know that we endured the winter in a dilapidated building that had no bathrooms or running water. When it would rain outside the leaks in the roof allowed it to rain inside resulting in standing water on the floor. Furthermore, we had no heat all winter long. Now, one would think that no kid would come to such a place. However, we registered 145 kids during our time there and averaged 40 kids a week. Despite the less than desirable conditions we filled hundreds of young bellies with food, feed young minds with the God’s amazing Love story, gave away 200 Bibles, picked up 4 state boxing championships and 2 silver medals in the Junior Olympics. Our Lord has gone before us and anointed us to preach His love to the poor. Through much prayer and hard work we have found a new home. In addition to central heat and air, our new building has an office, kitchen  and two bathrooms. We have a nice sized classroom where we will host our anger management classes, financial classes, and Bible studies. Team Achieve now has a locker room and a full boxing/wrestling gym. We have truly felt the hand of our Lord on us. The kids were elated and felt a sense of pride as we moved in last week. We are running our full summer program as we get settled in and unpacked.  Thank you to all of our donors and community partners who help us live out our mission of Transforming Lives Through Faith and Education. Please feel free to drop in anytime or call for a tour.

Jr. Olympics and Fried Chicken

Posted on May 17, 2011 at 3:08 PM Comments comments (28)

\Some great things happened over the weekend at Jr. Olympics.  We took 2 kids competing and Dewon our undefeated super heavyweight came to help me corner.
One of our kids Adrian was scheduled to compete but got a job. He was unable to get of work in time and  no showing at a major tournament would  not look good for our club. Jonny found out and wanted to take Adrian's spot. I told him that I didn't think the LBC would allow it because Adrian's class is a Senior class ( for kids who have won a State title or have had more than 5 fights) as well as Adrian is in a weight class that is 10 lbs lighter than Jonny. Jonny called the boxing commissioner and got her approval. With just two days notice Jonny cut 10 lbs and made weight early Saturday morning. He was tired but fought a State Champion. He knocked the kid down 2xs  and won  a unanimous decision with excellence and advanced to the finals. In the finals he fought another State Champion he won the first round the second round was close but was out scored the third round loosing a split decision and earning a silver medal. He received a standing ovation from the crowd. He steeped up big time and showed a great display of character! Jonny crossed a major barrier in his life! He took it to another level!
Another kid we took to Jr Olympics Khari Williams  a 15 yo 250 pounder is working hard to make it on our scholars page and put on a great fight loosing by 1 point to his opponent VERY CLOSE! He earned a silver medal. His medal broke and he asked the boxing commissioner  if it was possible to exchange it for a new one. She gave him a gold medal. About 15 minuets later he came back to her and told her of her error explaining that he earned a silver medal not gold. She shrugged it off and told him to keep the Gold and everyone will think he earned a gold medal. His response to her was "I earned a silver medal and I am very proud of that. Over this semester I have learned to always conduct myself in a manner worthy of the Gospel and to be a man of integrity. My coach would be very disappointed if I lied. May I exchange this for a Silver one?" The commissioner was blown away and quickly told me the story. She was very moved and affirmed our club and mission.  I must say I was most proud of him.
 After after the final fights today I took the 3 kids to Golden Corral (urban kids favorite place) where Khari challenged me to a fried chicken eating contest. I accepted the challenge I ate 2 chicken breast before acquiescing to  Khari who ate 12. Hahaha seriously he ate 12 pieces of fried chicken. After finishing his poultry he ate the largest plate of banana pudding I have ever seen. To top it all off he took a soft serve ice-cream cone to go. WOW!! So in the end we came home with two silver medalist, some great displays of courage, integrity and bellies full of fried chicken. I can’t wait until next year!!