***This piece is part of our content presented at Inclusive City 2020. On Oct. 28, 2020, from the stage of the Madam Walker Legacy Center, we revealed plans to dismantle systemic racism in Central Indiana at Inclusive City 2020. Learn more about that event here.***
CICF, The Indianapolis Foundation, Hamilton County Community Foundation and Women’s Fund of Central Indiana have adopted a two-pronged approach to our racial equity work. We are committed to attacking disparities in two ways: a “top down” approach by interrupting and changing systems and policies that unfairly hold people back – and a “bottom up” approach by building and sustaining a grassroots movement of daily acts of equity by thousands and thousands of people from all walks of life all around our region. Both must happen in order to create the anti-racist community we want – and need – to be. Structures, institutions, systems, policies – all must be interrogated and either interrupted, changed or new ones put in place that provide true and lasting equity at the highest levels of government, business and community-based work.
We know that significant social change takes time, takes all of us, and takes vision and resources. Working both at the institutional level and at the person level is essential to building relationships, partnerships, coalitions and movements. Our boards, and especially our staff, are doing this daily and have created specific cross-sector initiatives to address specific racial disparities and the desired outcomes we have set forth in our strategic plan. Here are some of the concrete projects we are either leading or partnering with others in the community that address the systemic change we want to see:
Criminal Justice Reform
- Deepening the work and scale the programming that’s already started to turn around school to prison pipeline outcomes in partnership with the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township and their efforts to expand the Hamilton County’s Youth Assistance Program to Marion County. This is year one of the foundation’s investment to serve 100 students and parents per year for the first two years.
- Stepping up our grantmaking priorities to focus crime prevention grants specifically on violence reduction and providing wrap-around services and supports to individuals at the very highest risk of being involved in gun violence. This is not only a policing issue. This is also a community issue that must be addressed within families and organizations providing social services and basic needs.
- Commissioning a study by the Center for Research on Inclusion & Social Policy of the Public Policy Institute and will be releasing a report, mid 2021. This study will assess Marion County’s Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice Systems through a racial equity lens.
Continuing our partnership with the Housing to Recovery Fund. Established in 2018 as a partnership with the Mayor’s office, the Coalition for Homeless Intervention and Prevention, and the Corporation for Supportive Housing, this $4 million fundraising initiative is helping create a coordinated permanent supportive housing system in Indianapolis. Focusing on the “housing first model” — 400 people who have been unsheltered for more than a year will be placed in an apartment, provided with a rental subsidy and, most importantly given regular wrap-around services to stabilize their life and their health.
- Joined a cross-sector, multi-agency coalition that will launch a complimentary, culturally-competent, minority-owned micro-enterprise and entrepreneurship initiative for 2021. Based on proven regional models, this incubator will provide robust small business coaching, access to critical capital, and ongoing support and technical assistance for minority entrepreneurs to thrive in our city’s neighborhoods and offer pathways to economic prosperity
- Launching a professional development and grantmaking program later this year. This program that will engage administrators, teachers, parents and students from nearly all districts in our city to come together to identify and own these disparities, learn of innovative approaches to address high-stakes gaps, develop a plan, and then provide funding for district leaders to launch programs tailored to eliminate gaps and best serve children, youth, and families of color within their districts
There are 18 specific projects in our Marion County strategic plan that are centered on making the systemic changes needed to be a more equitable community. The ones above are only the tip of the iceberg. We are also making progress towards providing innovative solutions to increase access to transportation, healthcare, community organizing, neighborhood beautification and lifting up leaders of color into positions of power and influence in our public, private and philanthropic sectors. We know that if we continue to create strong community partnerships and bold initiatives, we will achieve our vision of an equitable Central Indiana.