Help Inner City Youth Visit and Apply for College

by Christel House International
Henry and Founder, Christel DeHaan at graduation
Henry and Founder, Christel DeHaan at graduation

For many impoverished Indianapolis students, graduating from college can seem like an impossible dream.

Not only are Christel House Academy (CHA) kids first generation college students, but they often come from households where their parents did not finish high school. Education and persistence are not core family values.

Years ago, Henry enrolled as an elementary school student at CHA. He came from a family who faced many challenges.

His mother was unwed, under-educated and struggling to make ends meet. As a single mother, she looked at CHA as an opportunity for her children—one she knew they desperately needed. 

However, as time passed, things got much more challenging for his family.  Struggling to make ends meet, they moved many times. If Henry had attended a public school, this would mean he would transfer schools with each move. But, at CHA, social workers made sure Henry remained in school.  As things at home continued to decline, school became a stable and safe place for Henry. 

As a junior in high school, his family collapsed. His mother left. But, Henry knew he had to complete high school if he was going to have a decent shot at life. He knew firsthand how difficult life was without an education, without a job, and without hope for the future. 

Despite his challenges, Henry remained in school thanks to the support of teachers and social workers.  He worked hard, graduated and set his sights on college.

For most schools, this is where the story would end. But, not at Christel House.  

Henry transitioned into the CHA College & Careers Program, which continues supporting students after graduation.

This proved to be a lifeline for Henry. Over the summer, as he worked to register for college and complete paperwork to receive financial aid, he hit a wall due to an administrative issue. He worried he’d never begin college.    

CHA’s College & Careers counselor helped him ask all the right questions, complete all of the required forms and aggressively advocated for him with college administrators. She made sure this roadblock didn’t derail his future, which is so often the case for students like Henry.

With the problem fixed, Henry was back on track. 

Today, Henry is a college graduate with an Associate’s degree in criminal justice. He is working toward becoming a police officer. He wants to help fix the kinds of neighborhoods where he grew up.  He wants to help protect children, like him, from the harsh reality of what poverty brings into those neighborhoods. 

Your support is helping to change the life stories of students like Henry. Thank you. 

Indianapolis Communities Christel House Serves
Indianapolis Communities Christel House Serves
Henry in 4th Grade at Christel House
Henry in 4th Grade at Christel House


John W., 2016 Christel House Academy Graduate
John W., 2016 Christel House Academy Graduate

John W., a 2016 Christel House Academy South graduate shares his Christel House experience.

“My journey at Christel House Academy, a charter school on the Southside of Indianapolis, began 14 years ago. That’s right. I’ve spent my entire educational career at one school. Of course, I had the opportunity to go to different schools, but my decision to remain at Christel House has without a doubt been one of the best decisions I could have ever made. My experiences here helped me grow and shape me into the man I’m becoming.

Christel House Academy is like no other school. It was founded with four core values in mind: respect, responsibility, integrity and independence. Our teachers work each day to ensure we live those values, and in my opinion, that’s what sets us apart. I’ve had several personal challenges in my life, but with the help of the teachers at Christel House Academy, I’ve been able to overcome them. One day in school, we had just come back into our classrooms after lunch and I sat down at my table and began crying my eyes out. I was hurt and felt abandoned. All of my classmates saw me crying and came to my rescue. At Christel House Academy we believe it's our responsibility to take care of each other, and that’s exactly what we do every day.

While our teachers hold us to extremely high academic standards, they also make sure we’re taken care of. My teachers even visited my home as a way to get to know me and my family. Also, we don’t have parent-teacher conferences, we actually lead our own conferences. Our teachers are there, but we do all the talking and explaining. We have to be able to explain our strengths and weaknesses in every class in such a way that our parents understand it, and it must be an accurate representation of who we are as students. My mother really appreciates the opportunity to hear me share what I’m learning. It helps her know that I really am being taken care of at Christel House Academy.

As for my future, I know I want to become a registered nurse and look forward to beginning college in the fall. I love helping others, and I think that has been instilled in me while at Christel House. Last summer, I had an opportunity to travel to Swaziland, South Africa with an organization that organizes trips for students. During the trip, we learned about HIV and AIDS in Swaziland. This experience opened my eyes to the world.

I wouldn’t change anything about my high school experience. I learned a lot about myself, how to persevere through challenging circumstances, and the beauty of giving back. I am grateful to my teachers at Christel House Academy, as they have set me on a path to success. I’m excited about what lies ahead."

Your support of Christel House Academy is helping students, like John, prepare for a bright future. With resources to visit and apply for college, you are eliminating roadblocks for these students on their ‘path to success.’ Thank you for your generosity.


Cheri at the University of Indianapolis
Cheri at the University of Indianapolis

Last year, we introduced you to Cheri O., a 2014 Christel House Academy South graduate.

Check out the original post:

Cheri has now completed her sophomore year at the University of Indianapolis, and we wanted to give you an update on her success.

“I'm currently studying Criminal Justice with a focus on cyber security. I'm excited to be in the Honors College at the University of Indianapolis. I will begin working on my honors project next fall. I will have to present that project during my senior year, and then I will graduate with distinction. I feel like I have gained independence and matured a lot since I first started college.

This summer I'm going to be in my stepsister's wedding, and then I am doing a six-week cyber security internship through Christel House with International Cruise & Excursions, Inc. (ICE) in Phoenix, AZ. I plan to graduate in two years. After graduation, I would like to use my cyber security education to work with law enforcement or possibly a private company that solves cyber-crimes or computer-related crimes. I envision living in one of the newly built condos in downtown Indianapolis after I graduate and seeing a play at the Indiana Repertory Theatre every week.”

Your support of Christel House Academy is helping impoverished students fulfill their college dreams and thrive after graduation. Thank you for your generosity.

Cheri, 2014 Christel House Academy graduate
Cheri, 2014 Christel House Academy graduate
Cheri giving a presentation at Wyndham Worldwide
Cheri giving a presentation at Wyndham Worldwide


Lexes, Christel House Academy Graduate
Lexes, Christel House Academy Graduate

Education is much more than desks and books. At Christel House Academy (CHA) students are educated from kindergarten to career. Each child discovers a personal roadmap to success. The leadership, problem-solving and creative-thinking skills learned at Christel House inspire students to believe in themselves, develop meaningful relationships and achieve excellence against all odds.

Lexes R. credits Christel House Academy with teaching her never to settle for less than her best.  “At Christel House, I learned how to aim high and not sell myself short. The school even recommended me for a summer internship at International Cruise & Excursions (ICE), a global travel company in Phoenix. There I gained experience that will help my future accounting career.” Lexes was Salutatorian of Christel House Academy’s 2014 graduating class. She is the first in her family to attend college and pursue a professional career. Her parents taught Lexes the importance of hard work, and Christel House helped her find dreams to follow.  She is currently a sophomore at the University of Indianapolis pursuing a degree in accounting.

The obstacles Christel House students must overcome to achieve their dreams are significant, but your support is helping students, like Lexes, attend college, pursue their careers and make their dreams reality. That’s the power of your investment.


Ashley, 11th Grade, Christel House Academy
Ashley, 11th Grade, Christel House Academy

My name is Ashley. I am in the 11th grade and attend Christel House Academy South. I live with my mom, dad and brother on the near-south side of Indianapolis. My mother works at Arby’s and my father works at a machine shop. My dad is the only one in our family with a high school diploma. Seeing my parents and others in my community struggle makes me realize I have to get an education and go to college if I want to be successful.

With Christel House, I feel much more confident in my future. Before attending Christel House, I didn’t know what it was like to attend a school that welcomed you or to have teachers who cared. Christel House was a true turning point in my life. I now have so many more opportunities.

After graduating, I want to go to college for four years and study veterinary medicine. I would like to travel to farms and take care of animals. With hard work and the assistance I get from Christel House, I know I can reach my dreams.

I can’t thank you and Christel House enough for changing my life. Without Christel House, I wouldn’t believe in myself. I wouldn’t think I could ever go as far as now I know I can. Thank you for making Christel House possible and giving me the opportunity to experience this amazing second home. Thank you for giving me a chance.”

Thank you for your ongoing support of ‘Help Inner City Youth Visit and Apply for College.’ Ashley is one of 850 current Christel House Academy students who will have a better life because you care.

But there are many more students in need. Would you consider an end of year gift for our students? A gift to help break the cycle of poverty could be the best thing you do all year.



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Organization Information

Christel House International

Location: Indianapolis, IN - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Bobbi Bosch
Indianapolis, IN United States

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