Vanguard Collegiate (VC Indy) is a tuition-free public charter school serving grades 6-8 in Indianapolis. We put our hearts and souls into giving our scholars the best educational experience possible, and we’re fortunate to have an exceptional leader at the helm. Executive Director Robert Marshall is a passionate educator with over 10 years of experience in the education field, he has been the principal of our school for the past five years and has played a pivotal role in shaping VC Indy’s vision, mission and impact.

To get to know Robert better, we asked him a few questions:

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how it led you to become the Founder and Executive Director of VC Indy?

A: I am from the eastside of Indianapolis – one of the toughest areas, and for a while I worked in corporate, but it didn’t fulfill me. There was a part of me that wanted to do more. Be more. And have a greater impact in the community that I’m from. I am the first in my family to go to college, and I am one of maybe a dozen African American males in the history of Indianapolis to start a school. My passion for education and my desire to uplift the young people in my community led me to start VC Indy.

Vanguard Executive Director Robert Marshall sitting in the middle of 6 middle school students.


Q: Your school is tiny by design. Can you tell us about the benefits of having a small school?

A: We always want to stay small, leaning into this idea that a micro-size learning environment has big benefits. We’ve seen tons of success academically, socially and emotionally for our kids, because when you’re this small, you can’t help but know everybody and everything about them. This approach allows us to meet scholar needs in a more personal way. 

Q: What has been the most influential moment in your career so far?

A: The most influential moment in my career was the very first day of school for Vanguard Collegiate. It was emotional. My mom had passed three months before the doors opened, so she never got a chance to see my dream come to life. Being at the front door, shaking the hands of every scholar that came through and introducing myself to new ones that I hadn’t met – I knew that this was the start of something very special, not just for me, but for our team and for kids who were part of our school community. I wished my mom could have seen it. It was hard not to get emotional, but I had to stay focused. That was definitely the most influential moment in my career so far.

Executive Director Robert Marshall greeting line of middle school students on first day of school.


Q: Your school is co-located inside Hawthorne Community Center. Can you tell us about the benefits of this setup?

A: Part of what makes us different and so successful is our location helps us offer wraparound resources to our scholars. We’re intentional about being in the space because it gives us a chance to have professionals help our scholars if they’re having a food insecurity issue, their parents need help finding work, or paying rent. 

Q: What else would you like us to know about YOU?

I love spending time with my family and Marvel movies. Every Friday night, we have a family movie night. I enjoy watching sports – basketball, football, soccer and cricket are my favorites. My favorite podcast is The Breakdown by Shawn King (my Morehouse classmate), which tackles issues of social justice. I am an avid sneaker collector – Jordan 11s are my favorite and I have at least a dozen pair. My favorite vacation spots are the Caribbean and Las Vegas because I enjoy the shows, concerts, and of course the beach. My wife and I prefer cruises because it’s like the best of both worlds.

About Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis

Vanguard Collegiate of Indianapolis (Vanguard) is a close-knit middle school with a big impact. Serving grades 6-8, we are a public charter offering innovative learning and wraparound social services. Our goal is to prepare our scholars for success in high school and beyond. At Vanguard, we believe in “opening doors” for our scholars through engaging academics, a safe environment, leadership development, and a strong sense of community. Enroll your scholar today!