Human Services

Shepherd Community, Inc.

aka SCI

Indianapolis, IN


Shepherd Community Center's mission is to break the cycle of poverty on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis by engaging and empowering the community to cultivate healthy children, strong families, and vibrant neighborhoods through a Christ-centered approach that meets the spiritual, physical, emotional, and academic needs of our neighbors.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Rev. Jay Height

Main Address

4107 E. Washington St.

Indianapolis, IN 46201 USA


Breaking the cycle of poverty, Near Eastside, Indianapolis, children's services, community center, continuum of care, education, graduation, college access, Nazarene





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

Family Services (P40)

Personal Social Services (P50)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

Years of disinvestment on the Near Eastside have left many families isolated in generational poverty and often living in crisis--lacking few opportunities for employment, education, housing and access to food.

Our service area has a poverty rate that is more than double that of Marion County (48.3% vs. 21%). Nearly 1/3 of the residents do NOT have a high school diploma. Lack of educational attainment limits employment options. As a result, the median household income is $20,000 lower than Marion County residents (approx. $22,000 vs. $43,000). Only about 30% of people own their own homes in the area and a staggering 35%+ of all housing is abandoned. The murder rate is more than 200% higher, drug overdoses are 340% higher and non-fatal shootings are 400% higher than the rest of the city. The Near Eastside is also a food desert lacking access to fresh, nutritious foods. Many children rely on school lunch programs and social service agencies to provide daily meals.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Continuum of Care

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Shepherd Community is a faith-based, non-profit organization established in 1985 with a straightforward but staggering goal: to break the cycle of poverty on the Near Eastside of Indianapolis.

We seek to do so by engaging and empowering the community to cultivate healthy children, strong families, and vibrant neighborhoods. To achieve our mission, Shepherd has developed a Continuum of Care that provides age-appropriate interventions, from birth through adulthood, to address the needs of the 500+ families/1,000 individuals we serve each year.

Shepherd has been implementing a two-generational approach to service delivery for more than a decade. Our Continuum of Care focuses on the physical, emotional, spiritual, and academic needs of our neighbors through a full set of programs that allow us to be continuously engaged in the lives of families.

Persistent poverty is a complex problem. It is influenced by multiple personal, cultural, social, political, and economic factors. No simple solution exists and progress in breaking free of generational poverty occurs slowly and often with setbacks. Our Theory of Change exemplifies our conviction that only a holistic, multifaceted, relational, and long-term approach will be effective.

Through our four-fold (physical, emotional, spiritual, and academic) holistic programming framed by the Continuum of Care, and through strategic partnerships, we direct our efforts toward transformation in eight key outcome arenas: 1) Spiritual Transformation Among Participants, 2) Empowerment of Parents, 3) Educational Success Among Youth, 4) Holistic Health Among Youth and Families, 5) Life Skills Growth Among Youth, 6) Increased Positive Adult Relationships for Youth, 7) Greater Socio-Economic Stability of Families, and 8) A Stronger Neighborhood. Taken together, we believe an individual's or family's progress in these eight arenas can break the cycle of poverty.

We recognize that the community environment in which our participating families live also matters greatly for their prospects for thriving. In fact, many of our staff live in the neighborhoods we serve and are personally invested in the community development work we do. Shepherd participates in strategic partnerships with over 25 organizations including businesses, churches, and nonprofits aimed at neighborhood-level improvements such as quality housing, strong schools, crime reduction, and business and economic development.

Since 1998 Shepherd has grown from a staff of 3 and budget of $100,000 to a staff of 80 and budget of $5M. Over the years, Shepherd's leadership has navigated the integration, development or merger of various programs and organizations to achieve economies of scale and ensure that relevant services are available to meet neighbors' needs long-term. Shepherd's leadership is committed to being a learning organization, evidenced by our investments in program evaluation systems and building a learning culture for staff and leadership.

Shepherd has participated in several program evaluation efforts in the past, invested in developing an organization-wide outcome tracking system, and trained all front-line staff in interview and data collection techniques to ensure data integrity demonstrating our commitment to data collection. Shepherd is in the process of designing and implementing a comprehensive organization-wide evaluation system using Efforts to Outcomes (ETO), which is planned for launch in early 2018. Individual program evaluation systems have been in place for years-each program area has developed a logic model and tracks progress toward benchmarks. This system will connect individual program outcomes to track progress toward overall organizational outcomes.

A 2016 evaluation of Shepherd's programs by Dr. Amy Sherman of the Sagamore Institute reported the following accomplishments:

1. Higher-than-Average High School Graduation Rate. Since 2007, 84 percent of the High School students with which Shepherd have worked successfully graduated from college. This exceeds the graduation rate at the four local IPS high schools that serve the same geographies as Shepherd.

2. Relatively Strong College Entrance Rates. Overall, 46.4 percent of its high school graduates have gone on to enroll in post-secondary education. In some years, this rate has been as high as 60 percent. Notably, college entrance rates among youth correlate with the youth's tenure of engagement at Shepherd: the longer they've been active in Shepherd's youth programming, the more likely they are to enroll in college.

3. Maintenance/Improvement of Academic Gains over Summer Months Among Elementary Students. Shepherd's Summer EXCEL program has been strong in assisting elementary students in maintaining or increasing their reading and math skills over the summer months. In 2014, 78 percent of involved children increased their reading comprehension skills and 100 percent maintained their math skills.

4. Superior Elementary-Age Academic Performance to Comparison IPS Schools. Elementary school students at Shepherd Academy consistently out-perform their peers in the local IPS Schools.

5. Strong Workforce Development Program Success Among Adults. In Shepherd's partnership with the Center for Working Families at the Edna Martin Christian Center, low-income neighborhood adults who are actively engaged achieved stronger-than-anticipated outcomes, especially in the second and third year program cohorts.

6. Growth in Life Skills Among Participating Youth. Shepherd youth who completed both the pre/post phases of the Casey Life Skills Assessment during the 2011-2012 year showed statistically significant and practically significant gains in the following areas: daily living skills; home life; self-care; work/study skills; and boundaries.

7. Strengthened Emotional Health Among Participating Youth. Shepherd youth who completed both the pre/post phases of the "Anti-Poverty Survey" (designed by Dr. Amy Sherman and implemented by Shepherd staff in 2011) showed positive, practically significant gains in emotional health.

8. Strong Results in Youth Mentoring Initiatives. According to the results of survey analysis utilizing the Behavior Outcomes Assessment Tool (BOAT), youth in grades 1-12 participating in Shepherd's various mentoring programs showed practically significant gains in five of seven measured arenas: Decrease in risky behaviors, Improvement in attitudes toward school, Improvements in social supports, Growth in family bonding, and, Improvement in self esteem

External Reviews



Shepherd Community, Inc.

Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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A Pro report is also available for this organization for $125.
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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?