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“When you stay down, you never overcome the hard things in life. But when you dig yourself out of the hole, the sky’s the limit.”

These are the closing sentences of an essay Brightlane Learning student Isaac submitted just before graduating, a milestone that seemed impossible only months before.

Isaac had a stressful and unstable childhood. He found calm and focus on the football field, and as he grew older, it became clear that he excelled at the very thing that brought him peace. His coaches and teammates became an extension of his family, so when one of his teammates died junior year, Isaac fell apart.

Losing a teammate was just part of the stress and trauma Isaac was experiencing at school and at home. He became frustrated, unfocused, and started falling behind. Isaac’s attendance and performance were so poor during his junior year that he didn’t receive any credits. It didn’t seem possible that he could recover and graduate. Thanks to Brightlane Learning, he did.

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The number of school-aged children experiencing housing insecurity and homelessness in Indianapolis is at an all-time high. Support from donors helped Brightlane Learning serve a record number of students last school year and helped prevent students like Isaac from falling behind and dropping out. There is an even greater need as Indianapolis students experiencing homelessness and housing instability head back to school.

Every senior that Brightlane supports is experiencing their own unique set of challenges. Isaac was working on credit recovery while trying to stay on track with his senior workload, holding down a part-time job, and learning how to be a parent. When he began dating his girlfriend at the beginning of his senior year, neither of them knew that she was pregnant from a previous relationship. She and Isaac chose to remain together and become a family.

In December, during finals week, Isaac got an A on an exam the same day that he became a first-time father. He drove straight from the delivery room to school to take a test before he returned to the hospital to spend time with his girlfriend and their baby daughter.

When Isaac started working with Brightlane, his future was uncertain. But he was determined to overcome the hard things he had experienced and secure a stable future for his family.

Those who knew all the hurdles he had faced encouraged him to focus on graduating with a general diploma. Still, our team saw his drive and dedication and encouraged him to work toward a Core 40 diploma with more rigorous math, science, standards. He visited the Brightlane staff member at his school daily and received both academic guidance and emotional support as he worked toward his goals.

In May, Isaac graduated with a Core 40 diploma, along with an HVAC Technician Certificate. His mother recently took him on his first college tour. There are still many unknowns ahead of Isaac and his family, but thanks to Brightlane, he is on the path to a more stable and brighter future.

More students like Isaac desperately need your support. Will you make a back-to-school gift today to help more seniors graduate and escape the cycle of homelessness? This is your chance to help students in need get the life-changing education they deserve.

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