Mentoring program faces cuts amid Trump proposal

INDIANAPOLIS -- A local program that provides mentoring to at-risk adults is facing budget cuts under President Donald Trump’s budget proposal.

Trump’s plan would eliminate the Community Development Block Grant, which helps fund Trusted Mentors in Fountain Square.

Trusted Mentors estimates about 30 to 40 young adults would lose mentoring services if the grant cuts are approved.

The program provides mentoring services to young adults aging out of the foster care system, former offenders re-entering society, as well as people at risk of homelessness.

Executive Director Jeri Warner said the cuts could end up costing the community in the long run, especially when it comes to incarcerating people.

“Studies have shown that especially if they’re aging out of foster care that without support, they could end up costing the system $300,000 per individual,” said Warner. “The grant is an important gift to our community.”

Samantha Burke is a mentor to Erykah Boyd, a 20-year-old student at Warren Central High School.

“I asked my counselor for someone to talk to,” said Boyd. “I didn’t really have someone to talk to and someone to understand me.”

Burke said the mentoring relationship helps her as well.

“She just listens to me vent about work or situations I have going on," said Burke. “Being able to connect with someone and say hey I’ve been in your shoes, I’ve been there, and you can get through this. That is something we take for granted sometimes.”

Both Burke and Boyd grew up in foster care, giving them another bond to share.

Boyd is soon headed to Indiana State, and credits her mentor for helping her make it.

"She helped me with my essay and revise it, and she told me about college and Indiana State," said Boyd.

Trusted Mentors is planning a bike tour for April 29 that will help raise money for mentoring programs.

Warner encourages citizens to contact your elected officials to voice your opinion on the budget cut proposal.

Call 6 Investigates reached out to several members of the Indiana delegation for comment on the plan to cut the Community Development Block Grant, which supporters say is one of the federal government’s most effective ways to revitalize low- and moderate-income communities across the country.

U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement to Call 6 Investigates:

“Investing in Hoosier families and communities is critical to the economic success of our state. I’m concerned about the President’s proposed cuts to the Community Development Block Grant Program, which helps support some of Indiana’s most vulnerable families and communities. While the President has offered a budget blueprint, it's up to Congress to craft a budget. I will continue to work with my colleagues to push for necessary resources for families in Indiana and across the nation, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.” – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly

In addition to mentoring programs, CDBG funding supports homeownership, housing rehabilitation, public improvements and economic development projects.

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