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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

HIM by HER Collegiate School for the Arts + Foundation

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Kara Kavensky

Harry Dunn III and his wife, Michelle Dunn, both former police officers, were inspired to launch a school focused on Helping and Improving Mankind by Healing Every Race (HIM by HER). The result is the HIM by HER Collegiate School for the ARTS. They announced their idea in 2014 and the funding and support flooded in to make their goal a reality.

Their school is located on 32nd Street near Emerson Avenue, in the heart of the 46218 zip code. Approved via Ball State University, Harry and Michelle opened the school in August of 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. Due to the size of their building, which is over 200k square feet, they were able to maintain in-person classes for their students with spacing. To date, they have experienced zero cases of COVID-19. That August, they began with Kindergarten through 2nd grade. This year, they tripled their size and now offer Kindergarten through 6th grade, and will continue to expand as they reach their Kindergarten through 8th grade potential.

“It is important to get people in the community to take the community back because we cannot arrest our way to making improvements,” states Harry Dunn, a former homicide detective with IMPD.

It took six years for Harry and Michelle to accomplish their goal of opening HIM by HER. Their foundation, which owns the school, raised enough funds for them to purchase a former IPS school to serve the community. The school is located two blocks from where they made their initial announcement.

The mission of HIM By HER Collegiate School for the Arts (HBHCSA) is to educate all students in our charge with rigorous academics appropriately infused with community commitment and character development necessary for college entry and success, and for productive lives in society. We also endeavor to counteract the “School-to-Prison Pipeline.” In addition, their Foundations’ mission is to improve the life skills and economic prospects of marginalized youth and adults. HIM By HER serves as a bridge for a successful, productive life in the community as a positive outcome, rather than the possibility of street life or incarceration as a negative outcome.

Their goals cannot be accomplished without wrap-around services for the families they serve. Per their website, the Foundation’s vocational training programs provide a vehicle for adults to enhance their employability and prospects for self-employment and entrepreneurship, as well. This will also benefit adults who have criminal histories that limit employment prospects. Realizing that a holistic approach is necessary, the Foundation will use its strategic partnerships with other entities to utilize their expertise in providing social, family support, and mental health resources.

A recent addition to their existing programming is engaging with Eleven Fifty Academy and offering an accelerated means to leap into a new career in tech. US Bureau of Labor Statistics is forecasting a job growth rate of 22% for software developers between 2019 and 2029, compared with 4% for other occupations. By providing access to this education and wrap around services to support engagement for individuals to go through a course to skill up into a sustainable career in tech, HIM by HER is facilitating an opportunity for a better future.

Removing barriers to entry is half of the effort, and Eleven Fifty Academy also provides a strong Career Services division to help find their graduates jobs. Currently, the demographics of Eleven Fifty Academy courses are 32% female, 28% minority, and 11% veterans. The Academy is committed to increasing their minority population.

“These positions are in demand and we aim to fill them with people from 46218,” says Stephen Lewis, Director of Student Success, Eleven Fifty Academy.

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