Most of us know a failing community when we see one. After all, there are often plenty of signs (broken windows, vacant homes and businesses, high crime, low educational attainment and income among them). But how can you tell when a community is teetering on the brink? How do you steady it before it slides into irreversible decline? And with so many interconnected issues, where do you start?
But that was only one answer. And it was part of a much bigger strategy that’s been years in the making.
Few know the far eastside – specifically the 46235 area code – as well as the Glick family. It was the epicenter of Gene and Marilyn Glicks’ real estate careers, a launching pad and community that made them the largest builders of single family homes in Marion County by the early 1960s. Some of the streets in the area were even named after the couple’s children and other family members.
Yet alarming warning signs were readily apparent, including high unemployment, low incomes and low educational attainment. “We knew it was an area of Indianapolis that was clearly in need of help, and in need of a lift up,” Barrett, President and CEO of the Gene B. Glick Company, says. Understandably, the family and Fund wanted to do something for the community that had done so much for them. But just as understandably, they weren’t exactly sure where, or how, to start.
The Fund and its advisors turned to Central Indiana Community Foundation for help, which is exactly what Gene and Marilyn wanted them to do when they created the Fund with CICF in 1998. “They were both Hoosiers who loved central Indiana,” Barrett says. “They believed there was no better partner for maximizing their philanthropy than CICF.”
The first step was to convene a family meeting that allowed everyone to share his or her ideas about how to help. The next was to determine where the Fund could have the biggest impact. Facilitated by CICF, the family meeting and ensuing discussions yielded a strategic philanthropic plan with a focus on four areas: the arts, education, self-sufficiency and basic needs. In 2010, the Fund began targeting specific geographic areas, including 46235.
A needs analysis of the neighborhood showed that though the area possessed meaningful assets – a diverse combination of small and larger businesses, retail, manufacturing and affordable housing – it was being neglected in favor of other communities that also needed help. It also demonstrated that battling encroaching blight would require a community-wide effort with a focus on matching badly needed services and support with existing resources and developing new partnerships to make that happen. Critical to that process was engaging United Way of Central Indiana due to the number of United Way agencies serving the community, and the organization’s expertise within its “Ready to Learn, Ready to Earn” program.
Together, the group developed a tactical plan specifically for the 46235 zip code that included (among other programs) financial support for three elementary schools within the Indianapolis Public School system (T.C. School 94, Francis Scott Key School 103 and Charles Warren Fairbanks School 105). It also included creating a HealthNet branch inside of an existing Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFÉ) in order to bring offer high quality, accessible healthcare within an established community institution. Support for Big Car, a “creative community builder working to boost urban livability from an engagement-based arts and design perspective” was also part of the plan. The recently opened “Galeria Magnifica” at 3702 N. Mitthoefer Rd. was made possible in part through that support.
Marianne Glick, chairwoman of the Glick Family Foundation, says none of it – the plan or partnerships – would have been possible without CICF. “CICF is a partner to The Glick Fund that helps us think strategically and creatively in order to reach our philanthropic goals,” she says. “The added value of working with CICF is their incredible depth and reach throughout the community to identify other not-for-profits and organizations that are doing good work, and helping us leverage additional funds in order to maximize our giving. We couldn’t reach those goals without them.”