Purpose Prize

Marc Freedman Portrait

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Paulette Fair

Kheprw Institute
Purpose Prize Fellow 2010

Through a community-focused nonprofit she co-created, Fair helps young black males succeed academically and gain valuable life skills that will serve them into adulthood.

In the summer of 2003, Fair and a colleague at the nonprofit where she worked began tutoring her grandson, her colleague’s son and a couple of their friends in reading, algebra and public speaking. While there, the young men also helped around the nonprofit, called Rehab Resource – an organization that recycled building materials.

No one expected the youths to ask to continue the tutoring into the fall. But that’s what Fair’s grandson and his friends wanted – and that’s how the Kheprw Institute was born. Since then the Indianapolis-based institute, which became its own nonprofit in 2004, has grown. It focuses on offering after-school programs, community environmental education outreach, ecology camps and intergenerational programs to black males, ages 8 to 23, and has served about 100 participants over the years.

“As adult members of the African-American community, we realize and experience through our own brothers, sons, fathers, the unique challenges our men face,” Fair explains.

One of Fair’s key interests is climate change, which she calls “the civil rights issue of our day.” In 2008, the Kheprw Institute opened the KI EcoCenter to promote environmental responsibility to neighbors, such as recycling. Fair recently received state certification as an energy auditor – someone who helps homeowners and others cut energy costs.

She is also helping a multigenerational group of colleagues receive certification, with the intention of starting an environment-focused general contracting firm that will hire local residents.