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The 46218 zip code in Indianapolis has long been a troubled area. Police serving the community are familiar with what is often referred to as the “school to prison pipeline” plaguing those calling the zip code home. The problems found in the area were the motivation for married former police officers Harry Dunn, III, and Michelle Dunn to launch their Him By Her Collegiate School For The Arts.

“Helping improve mankind by healing every race, an all-inclusive school, an all-inclusive program,” Dunn said as he strolled through the 200-thousand square foot former IPS school with this reporter. “Because we believe we need to take race out of play, out of factors, and understand that we’re part of mankind and that we should all be working together.”

Dunn maintains that educating at-risk elementary school students is only possible if his school also offers what he describes as “wrap around” services for the families of the school’s K-thru-6 students.

“This school is a community school,” Dunn said as he continued to walk briskly through the massive school. “We offer STD testing, HIV testing, youth counseling, family counseling. free lead testing, free dental work, and more.”

The school and its staff are focused on life beyond the classroom, fully aware that students are more likely to be successful if they have a nurturing environment at home. Him By Her staffers are willing to take the steps necessary to create that environment. “If you have that young second grader, you need to understand that she has that older brother, older sister, and mom and dad that may also need our help,” said Dunn.

Many of the services provided by the school are overseen by Cecily Smith who serves as the school’s director of community development and resources. “If you have someone that has time on their hands and they come somewhere to utilize that time, it gives them less time to get into trouble,” Smith said as she stood overlooking the school’s outsized auditorium and cafeteria.

The Dunns began planning the school in 2014 and formed a foundation to raise the necessary capital for the project. Six years later, in the thick of a pandemic, the foundation had purchased a former IPS school and the Him By Her Collegiate School for the Arts opened.

What the school needs now is to grow its enrollment. Enrollment packets can be printed from the school’s website and brought to the school to be completed with the assistance of staff.

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