Indiana Nonprofit Assists Black Educators With Housing Expenses in Teacherville

This content was originally featured on Mirror Indy and is shared through our collaboration Free Press Indiana.

An initiative by a nonprofit in Indianapolis, named Educate ME, has been introduced to aid Black teachers in purchasing their first residences. 

The concept emerged from dialogues with educators who pointed out that inadequate pay was a reason for leaving the teaching profession, stated CEO Blake Nathan. While the organization focuses on enhancing diversity among teaching personnel, it recognizes the limitations in boosting educators’ salaries but aims to offer financial assistance for various living costs instead. 

Nathan articulated that the organization’s ultimate objective is to expand its backing for Black teachers to foster generational prosperity within the community. Success in this endeavor, Nathan added, could have a positive impact on the students as well.

Research indicates that a higher presence of Black teachers in classrooms can lead to improved student performance, reduced suspension rates, and higher graduation rates, as noted by Nathan. For instance, in IPS, Black educators constitute 20% of the district’s teaching workforce while over 40% of the students are Black.

“It is essential to retain these Black teachers because we recognize the significance of their presence in our educational systems,” emphasized Nathan. “This reflects a genuine act of philanthropy by directing resources directly to those who need it most.”

The program, known as Teacherville, will cover up to $5,000 in closing costs for homes in the Martindale Brightwood vicinity. Collaborating with the Martindale Brightwood Community Development Corporation, Educate ME offers educators early access to view the organization’s upcoming housing options, prior to their listing on popular real estate platforms such as Zillow. Nathan revealed that the local organization anticipates completing over a dozen new homes by year-end.

Construction of affordable townhomes underway on Rural Street in the Martindale Brightwood neighborhood on Feb. 8. (Dawn Mitchell/Mirror Indy)

Furthermore, Educate ME will fund down payments for existing homes in the area and expresses interest in collaborating with other community development corporations in Indianapolis in the future.

The Teacherville program provides financial aid to Black educators, including teachers, counselors, and school support staff, employed in any school in Indianapolis. Qualifying criteria include income thresholds and credit score prerequisites.

Moreover, Educate ME partners with the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership to guide teachers on homebuyer education classes and assist with credit-building efforts, irrespective of their income levels.

“The home purchasing process can be daunting for anyone,” acknowledged Nathan. “Our aim is to simplify this process and make it less intimidating for educators.”

Nathan mentioned that Teacherville initially aimed to assist 25 educators and presently has a waiting list with at least 10 additional names. While the program continues to accept submissions for the waitlist, Nathan urges educators to apply through the Teacherville website.

Final touches being made to affordable townhomes at 2411 Rural St. in the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood on Feb. 8. (Dawn Mitchell/Mirror Indy)

This endeavor has received contributions from the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis and the donor-advised fund of the Indianapolis Foundation, amounting to $100,000. To provide down payment support to educators on the Teacherville waitlist, Educate ME is currently seeking donations from the community.

Larry Smith, the president and CEO of Indianapolis-based the Fathers and Families Center, mentioned that the program seeks to not only aid in teacher recruitment and retention but also contribute to the revival of the Martindale Brightwood region.

Smith highlighted that him and other community leaders were drawn to supporting Educate ME due to its plans to extend assistance beyond the initial contributions of Teacherville.

“We may not have vast financial resources,” stated Smith. “But in terms of attracting, recruiting, and retaining teachers, we believe we can make a genuine impact.”

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