Angel Investment Updates: Winter 2017

Each year, Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) angel investors—nearly 80 individuals, families and organizations—invest in innovative and transformative projects to make Marion and Hamilton counties thrive. BELOW are nine ways angel investors’ partnership and inspiration helped to transform our corner of the world in 2017.



Students with high involvement in the arts are more likely to excel academically, have higher test scores, higher graduation rates, greater community service, lower dropout rates, higher levels of college completion and career satisfaction later in life.

Research shows students of low-socioeconomic status (SES), people of color, and those from urban and rural school districts beneft most from experiencing art, but are also those with the least amount of access–as students of color and low-income students have roughly half of the arts access of their white and suburban peers.

The national program, Any Given Child, is one long-term solution to the lack of equity and access to high-quality arts education and programming. In 2014, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C., selected Indianapolis as the 18th Any Given Child city in the country. The program provides all K-8 students in Indianapolis Public School (IPS) with a comprehensive arts education experience.

As part of this effort, CICF, along with more than 30 community-based organizations in partnership with IPS and the Arts Council of Indianapolis, has constructed an implementation plan to ensure that 100 percent of K-8 students in all IPS schools have access to comprehensive arts education in dance, theatre, media arts, music and visual arts.

This year, the initiative raised money for arts organizations to work in local schools; trained over 50 teachers and arts administrators in arts integration; identified nine pilot schools; and completed a national study to create an online portal for arts education.


The rising expense of college is causing financial struggles for many families, yet we also know that by 2024, 60 percent of jobs will require some sort of degree or certificate. Sadly, Indiana ranks 42nd in the nation for attaining those credentials. Providing students with financial support to pursue their post-secondary education is invaluable.

CICF and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund, serving Hamilton County, awarded 159 scholarships totaling nearly $1.2 million for the 2017-2018 academic year. Recipients received up to $20,000 and were chosen by multiple committees comprised of donors and community volunteers.

A total of 41 scholarship funds created by donors at CICF and its affiliates made awards. Of those, 13 scholarships totaling $188,000—made possible by community endowments—were awarded by The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund.

Working to Re-engage College Dropouts

An article this year in The Washington Post said college persistence is harder than ever. “Inadequate preparation, unrealistic expectations and other issues that college freshman don’t anticipate can become important obstacles to happiness and success.”

Admissions officials say that about a third of undergraduates transfer at some point in their college careers and an even greater number drop out. These dropouts, if they never earn a post-secondary credential, will likely face diminished earning potential and a narrow path to career achievement.

Motivated by a conversation with angel investor, Phil Terry, this year, CICF is working to develop an initiative to offer wrap-around services to recent dropouts and students at-risk of withdrawing. Reengagement services may include programs or counsel to steer students to a training/education plan that better fits their needs and puts them on the pathway to success.


Central Indiana Changed Direction on Mental Health

In May of this year, Women’s Fund of Central Indiana, a special interest fund of CICF, convened community partners to join the national Campaign to Change Direction on mental health. Nine cities, 46 college campuses, plus hospitals, health departments, chambers, foundations and businesses have pledged to advocate for open, honest conversation about mental health in Central Indiana.

Partners include Indianapolis, Carmel, Crawfordsville, Fishers, Greenfield, Noblesville, Shelbyville, Westfield and Zionsville; local universities, including Butler University, DePauw University, Indiana University, IUPUI, Ivy Tech, Marian University; Martin University, Purdue University and University of Indianapolis; CICF and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund; Indy Public Safety Foundation; Indiana Family and Social Services Administration; the Division of Mental Health and Addiction; Marion County Public Health Department; Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health and Riverview Health; Eli Lilly and Company; and the Alpha Mu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a historically black sorority and the second largest professional women’s association in the Indianapolis.

As a first step in the campaign, partners will work to help ensure that every Central Indiana resident knows how to recognize and respond to the five signs of emotional suffering within five years—personality change, agitation, withdrawal, poor self-care and hopelessness.

Hamilton County Seniors in Need Received Easier Access to Services

Families often struggle to care for their aging members. To address this important community challenge, Legacy Fund committed to convening community organizations and providing up to $50,000 annually for four years to Reaching Resources, a new program founded and led by Shepherd’s Center of Hamilton County.

Reaching Resources connects low-income Hamilton County seniors with services to improve their quality of life, prevent isolation and help maintain independence. The program makes access to services easier and faster by connecting seniors with the right assistance with one call to one place. Reaching Resources is being piloted in Sheridan, where 68 percent of the senior population qualifies for assistance and the rural environment makes some resources limited.

Ambassadors Gave Voice to Central Indiana Community Concerns

Over the next decade, CICF plans to strengthen and codify its work creating more equitable access to opportunity in Central Indiana. To get ready, the organization has solicited more community input than ever before. In August, CICF launched its ambassador program, partnering with residents in communities from Northern Hamilton County to Indianapolis’ Southside to start a dialogue

Thirty-six CICF ambassadors, trained in “empathy research” by the innovation agency, SmallBox, connected with their neighbors in schools, community centers, food pantries, parks and even through ride-sharing services, like Uber, to capture experiences, challenges and opportunities among neighborhoods and population groups in Central Indiana. Ambassadors spoke to residents of Noblesville, Speedway, Martindale-Brightwood, Haughville; representatives of the Latino, immigrant, LGBTQ and homeless communities; and many others.

The result of the effort will be a detailed report that, coupled with quantitative data, will provide a foundation for CICF’s strategic direction.



CICF, The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund have partnered with Hamilton County Tourism, the city of Indianapolis and Visit Indy, among others, on a new project to address an all too often overlooked gem in our region—the White River.

The partners are currently working to create a master plan, which will ultimately redefine how Marion and Hamilton counties are connected. Imagine one day, catching a water taxi in Noblesville and heading down to Broad Ripple, or even further south. The possibilities are endless.

This initiative is the next step in CICF’s ongoing effort to reconnect our waterways to enhance the quality of life in Central Indiana. CICF co-founded the organization, Reconnecting To Our Waterways (ROW) with Eli Lilly and Company Foundation and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful.

For the initiative, CICF received a $1.3 million grant from the Kresge Foundation for ROW and ROW received an additional $1 million grant from the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. ROW continues of serve as a catalyst for neighborhood vibrancy and economic growth.

Keeping Theater in the Cultural District

Theatre on the Square (TOTS) has been a nearly 30-year mainstay in the Indianapolis arts community and an important hub of the Massachusetts Avenue cultural and theatre district since 1993, when it relocated from Fountain Square.

Recently, the organization has been challenged by the need for costly building repairs and other issues that threaten its survival. CICF has convened community partners to work with TOTS to create a plan for the venue’s long-term sustainability.

CICF believes TOTS is an important part of the Indianapolis theatre and arts scene. Not only that, but it is imperative that the city preserve the diversity of offerings in one of downtown’s most popular districts.

Earlier this year, Brian Payne was quoted in media as saying, “Restaurants, theaters, art galleries and boutiques—their economic health is interdependent. Spaces like Mass. Ave., where the community can enjoy great food and experience great art and culture, help attract, develop and retain highly-educated, creative, entrepreneurial and community-minded citizens. That is important to us, because it is important to Central Indiana.”

Preserving Quality of Life Around Former GM Stamping Plant

Earlier this year, Ambrose Property Group acquired the old General Motors stamping plant, located west of the White River. Proposed development of the 103-acre site would create a new district for Indianapolis, including apartments, offices, retail and a hotel.

CICF was an active partner on the project proposal and will continue to serve as inspiring places consultant to maximize opportunities to create a beautiful community for neighbors of the development and all members of the Indianapolis community.

Learn more about our angel investors here.

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