How Can We Help Our Kids Get Up To Speed So They Can Get The Most Out Of School?

Our Youth Programs Director, Lacrisha, likes to tell the story of using play performances and public recitations to draw upon the already rich verbal skills our young people bring to the MLK Center. By giving early readers a chance to see rhyme, rhythm, and tone as part of their literacy education, it encourages them to value the resources that surround them—from storytelling to lyrical flourish. What starts as sounding out a word on the page ends with a young poet reciting their newest poem on the stage. And when the curtains go up, there’s rarely a dry eye in the house.

At a glance

  • Kindergarten through 5th grade
  • Monday-Friday after school, and year-round during out-of-school-time
  • $60 per week
  • Scholarships available
For 6th-8th graders, visit our Dream Space Program

It starts with a feeling

Feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling encouraged. When a child feels important, they’re able to engage and learn, especially when it’s fun. As Lacrisha says, “Learning is noisy; there should be movement, voices, sound in a classroom—that’s the sound of learning.”

Proven methods

We’ve developed a structured, child-centered reading intervention and enrichment program in partnership with The Indy Learning Team and IPS James Whitcomb Riley School #43. 90% of students walk through our doors unable to read at the level they should be at, but within two years of dedicated work, we can get your child reading at their grade level.

Tailored tutoring

We see your children as individuals—with a unique set of needs, strengths, and goals. Staying in close communication with your child’s school allows us to modify our programs to meet a range of particular learning styles. It also enables our staff to follow the same Individualized Education Program (IEP) your child may receive at school.

Their future starts now

Learning to read takes time and dedication, but it’s worth the work. Once kids reach their literacy level, they’re able to not only take their standardized tests with confidence, but pass them. Opening doors to opportunities for years to come.

Professional Equipment

Gear for every passion. Our tech center is stocked with the latest top-of-the-line equipment to bring any idea to life. Even if you don't know where to start, we encourage an attitude of playful tinkering and open curiosity. Drop in whenever you want to explore our studios for:
  • Music Recording & Production
  • Film Production
  • Graphic Design
  • 3D Printing
  • Virtual Reality (VR)

Youth-Led Studios

This is your place. If you're 17-24, this is your place to use how you want. There’s no required curriculum—just drop in anytime from 3pm - 7pm, meet up with friends, make new ones, learn how to use some cool equipment, and maybe discover something you never knew you’re good at. We’re here to guide you and help you not break anything, the rest is up to you.

Peer-to-Peer Philosophy

A place for creative collaboration. We believe young people should be learning from each other and building relationships around common interests and curiosity. So, if it’s your first time using a new software or piece of equipment, we’ll help you learn how and introduce you to a peer who can show you the ropes. Who knows, your peer mentor might just become the creative partner you didn't know you needed

Creative Workshops

Looking for some deeper knowledge? We offer optional workshops three days a week to learn the basics or level-up your music production, film, or life skills. No need to sign up; just stop by from 5:15pm - 6:15pm any Monday, Wednesday, or Friday. 

Job Readiness Training

Get paid to plan your path to career or college. Thinking about the future? Or just think you should be? Our Pathways Program is designed to get you ready for a future you’re excited about with hard and soft skills training on:
  • Resume writing
  • How to interview and posture yourself
  • Personal branding
  • Finding financial aid for education
Program meets twice a week and runs December through May (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6:30-8pm). Earn $1,500 for attending and get connected with a summer internship once complete. Learn skills, build relationships, and gain experiences to help carry you to your next stage in life.

Nontraditional students welcome

Not sure what your next move is? That’s no problem, we’re here to help you focus on your interests and find direction—even if you have no idea what that looks like yet. Traditional schools give us rigid parameters for success, but we’re here to show you: you don’t have to fit into a box to be successful.

Creative curiosity

Explore where you want to go. Led by a team of educators and industry professionals, this is a place to explore your passions and discover new ones. Whatever you’re interested in, we’ll help guide you down that path and discover how to make something of it. Some of those paths we’ve explored:
  • Short films, documentaries, cooking and instructional videos
  • Writing
  • Cinematography
  • Art Direction
  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Graphic Design

So much more than job training

Beyond the camera. There’s a lot more to success than learning a trade. We give equal weight to working on production skills as we do life skills. Which is why the program incorporates:
  • Wellness coaching
  • Access to practical resources for immediate needs
  • Transportation assistance 
  • Financial literacy training
  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Resume writing
  • Portfolio building
  • Personal branding

Join the team

Make valuable connections with creative collaborators. Unlike the Best Buy Teen Tech Center, this isn’t “open gym”; it’s a team effort. If you’re interested in being a collaborative member of a creative team, while learning a trade from working professionals, we want to meet you.
  • Night cohort being offered first time Summer 2023
  • Learn a creative trade from working professionals
  • Collaborate with peers on personal projects
  • Be a part of a team making professional work for real-world clients

A creative evolution

Create what’s next. 2023 marks the first year of the Tarkington Teen Work Crew’s new focus on empowerment through creative skills building. While the focus has changed, our teens still benefit from our commitment to addressing the needs of the whole person, including:
  • Social Emotional Learning (SEL)
  • Financial literacy training
  • Group counseling
  • Neighborhood cleanups
  • Professional development

Get in where you fit in

Pick your passion. Powered by the extensive resources of our Best Buy Teen Tech Center, we’re offering specialized Work Crews that focus on creative skills building. Choose from one of 4 Crews and make something you’ll be proud of this summer:
  • Music Crew
  • Film Crew
  • Girls Only Crew
  • Voice Crew

Don't miss your shot

Unfortunately, we have to set limits. We have limited spots available, so if you meet the requirements, get your registration in today:
  • Must live within 1 mile of Tarkington Park
  • Ages 14-17
  • Must be in high school or going into high school
  • Registration opens in the spring

See what we’re all about, in person.