2020: Our Road to Equity—a Year in Review

2020 was a year filled with unique challenges, some that were incredibly unexpected and others that were previously ignored by too many for too long. Within these challenges is profound tragedy and loss. There also lies an incredible opportunity to collectively learn how we as a community—and as a foundation—can do better. This year has proven that our commitment to equity and reconciliation is in direct alignment with what is needed to make our community in Central Indiana a place where all individuals have equitable opportunity to reach their full potential—no matter place, race or identity.

We know that these accomplishments could not have happened without the support of our angel investors. Their belief in us as a valuable community asset allowed us to do some great work this year and continues to help us push forward on this equity journey. Thank you for your partnership, without which, progress would not be possible.

Below is a list of some of the key accomplishments we made in moving our work forward, including examples of how we made swift adjustments to address the pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism.

National Movement of Foundations Taking on Racial Equity
In 2016, CICF joined the Community Foundations Opportunity Network, a national group of community foundations committed to narrowing the youth opportunity gap through leadership and collective action. This year, CICF was selected to be a part of the inaugural cohort made up of seven other community foundations that will take part in the Aligned Action Network, a collaborative effort to dismantle structural and systemic racism and achieve equity in social and economic mobility in communities throughout the country. We were selected by an independent review panel for our leadership in the community, track record of evidence-based strategies resulting in measurable impact, and continued support from donors and fundholders. This leadership network will seek to attract and deploy significant philanthropic capital to accelerate the work of racial equity and produce measurable improvement in both social and economic success.

Reinventing Philanthropy with IMPACT
IMPACT Central Indiana was created by CICF and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Hamilton County Community Foundation, to facilitate investments into businesses, funds, and not-for-profit organizations that are generating measurable social impact and financial returns. Early this year, IMPACT Central Indiana was launched and began making investments and creating IMPACT funds for those looking to reinvent their philanthropy. One of the initial investments was partnering with Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, Cook Medical, and United Northeast Community Development Corporation to create opportunities for individual and community growth. This unique partnership will bring career-oriented jobs, access to education, wrap-around services, and community ownership with a new medical device manufacturing facility to the northeast Indianapolis neighborhood. In April, IMPACT partnered with Indy Chamber to support businesses impacted by COVID-19 and owned by people of color and members of marginalized communities.

$2.2 Million Towards Racial Equity with New Fund
Launched in late June, Central Indiana Racial Equity Fund is a coalition of local stakeholders and established with an initial investment of more than $2.2 million to advance solutions to racial inequality in Indianapolis and its surrounding communities. The fund was established by the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, Lumina Foundation and CICF with contributions from the Anthem Foundation, Buckingham Foundation, Dorsey Foundation, Rick Fuson and Karen Ferguson Fuson, Marianne Glick and Mike Woods, Glick Philanthropies, Herbert Simon Family Foundation, High Alpha, The Indianapolis Foundation, Indianapolis Power & Light Company, and Lilly Endowment Inc., and Pacers Foundation, among other generous donors. The fund works with organizations to support efforts to improve interactions between the Black community and local police in Indianapolis; address the disproportionate number of Black youth in the juvenile and criminal legal system by providing positive alternatives for education and employment; and increase employment, health and wealth opportunities for communities of color. To date, almost $520k has been awarded to local organizations.

GANGGANG Aims to Ignite the Industry of Culture
With support from CICF, the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, and Glick Fund, GANGGANG was born. Created by Indianapolis entrepreneurs Mali Jeffers and Alan Bacon, GANGGANG is a cultural development firm for creatives and people of culture. By investing in the creative economy, the startup aims to leverage the industry of culture to create a more inclusive and powerful city.

Commitment to Diversity in Staff and Leadership
We made a commitment to building an organization that is the reflection of our community. Over the past year, we have put that commitment to action. During the recruitment and hiring of new staff, we committed to keeping applications open until the diversity of our candidates reflected that of our community. This practice resulted in adding not only qualified and talented individuals to our staff but also the addition of new perspectives and relationships. This year, Women’s Fund instituted a new policy of not accepting unsolicited recommendations during the application process to provide a more equitable opportunity for all by eliminating influence of those with established connections. We have also continued to elevate the leadership skills of diverse individuals among our boards of directors. Hamilton County Community Foundation created this year an Opportunity, Equity and Inclusion committee for its board.  Women’s Fund continues to serve as a model with their advisory board and committees being co-chaired by women of color. Additionally, all committees of Women’s Fund are no less than fifty percent women of color.

Grantmaking Shifted—and Reinvented—to Respond to COVID-19


The Neighbor Relief Fund for Marion County was seeded with $250,000 from The Indianapolis Foundation and received nearly $1 million in contributions from individuals and corporate partners, including a significant gift from Bank of America. Grants from the Neighbor Relief Fund ensured that residents had access to the resources that residents said they needed during the initial wave of the pandemic. The fund provided support to grassroots and neighborhood organizations working directly to support seniors, residents without health insurance or sick days, those with limited English proficiency, health care workers, hourly employees who lost work, with a specific commitment to communities of color and under-appreciated neighborhoods. Over $1,1 million in grant dollars have been awarded to not-for-profits from this fund, and many are organizations that have not applied for funding from CICF prior to these grants.

“We recognize the uniquely destructive impact that the COVID-19 pandemic is having on residents already made vulnerable by business as usual in an unfair and unjust system. We refuse to return to business as usual after this moment has passed.”

-Brian Payne, president & CEO


Through the generosity of The Indianapolis Foundation and the Glick Fund, CICF was a founding partner of the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF), a community fund established to support human services organizations and the individuals and families they serve who are affected directly and indirectly by the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. Other founding partners included Lilly Endowment Inc., Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, The Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, and United Way of Central Indiana. As of June, this fund granted $21.56 million to 186 organizations in Central Indiana.


Along with the community’s generous support, Hamilton County Community Foundation established the Hamilton County Crisis Response Fund with a seed of $100,000. This flexible fund provided resources to not-for-profit organizations in Hamilton County that are responding to the spread of COVID-19 and experiencing financial challenges doing so. From hunger relief to academic support, the grants awarded served seniors, youth, and economically vulnerable populations affected by the pandemic. The simplification and streamlining of the grantmaking process provided applicants with award notification within two weeks of submitting a funding request. Grants from the Hamilton County Crisis Response Fund currently total $212,395.


Women’s Fund of Central Indiana created an emergency grants process to meet the changing needs of organizations serving women and girls as they responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with 45 grants totaling $322,808. The funding was available in multiple rounds this year and replaced the unrestricted grantmaking process.


Supporting multiple counties across the state, the Central Indiana Senior Fund responded to one of the most vulnerable populations during the pandemic, senior citizens. Providing over $400,000 in relief, the fund focused on operating support to senior-serving organizations. From food transportation to in-home services, Senior Fund helped residents receive essential assistance while remaining safe at home. The fund also made a generous contribution to the Neighbor Relief Fund mentioned above. 


In addition to the support directed from CICF, its affiliates and special focus funds, our donor-advised funds have made a record number of grants in response to the pandemic. Over 400 grants were specifically focused on pandemic-related causes from our donor-advised funds, with a total award amount of $6,874,784.

Restructuring Crime Prevention Grant
The City of Indianapolis pivoted its Community Crime Prevention Grants program to focus on violent crime. The program is now called The Violent Crime Prevention Grants Program. This grant program is funded from public resources allocated annually by City-County Council and is administered by The Indianapolis Foundation. In March, the City-County Council passed Proposal 69, which established the definition and priority of “violent crime” as addressed by the program. The program’s focus and guidelines support CICF’s strategic partnership to build the infrastructure to reduce gun violence in Indianapolis through strategic partnerships and building authentic relationships with communities. Earlier this month, 26 organizations were awarded $2.2 million for these efforts.

Creating Equity Framework for The Indianapolis Foundation Grantmaking
Over the last year, our grantmaking team interrogated our responsive processes for grants made through The Indianapolis Foundation. Staff worked closely with our neighbors and CICF Community Ambassadors, benchmarked against other foundations moving toward equity and anti-racism, and learned numerous lessons through getting COVID-19 relief to our neighbors who needed it most as quickly as possible. This diligence allowed us to evolve our responsive grantmaking process in the new year, making it more equitable and effective for Indianapolis not-for-profits. Using this framework in 2021, we will make unrestricted responsive grants of up to $50,000 to mission-aligned not-for-profits in Marion county. We know that unrestricted grants give not-for-profits the flexibility to allocate funds where they are needed most, making them stronger, more sustainable, and freeing them from bending programs to funder desires.

Opening the Collaboration Hub and New Office in Fishers
This summer, Hamilton County Community Foundation moved its office from Carmel to Fishers. While the location provides new and expanded offices for staff, the space’s primary goal is being home to the Collaboration Hub – a collective physical space explicitly designed to promote community action while developing and incubating new ideas for inclusive economic prosperity. The Hub is for not-for-profits and other groups to collaborate, learn and innovate together.

Advancing Racial Equity in Hamilton County
Hamilton County Community Foundation has developed a plan to partner and work with local municipalities to provide training opportunities like Interrupting Racism. The foundation is also supporting grassroots organizations that have formed to grow regional diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Hamilton County Community Foundation received significant support from the Community Leadership Innovation Fund to get this work moving forward. This work is part of the Movement of 10K, CICF’s regional commitment and strategy to dismantle systemic racism and make Central Indiana the most anti-racist community in the country. More details about the Movement of 10K will be available in the coming year.

Supporting Workforce Development in Hamilton County
With additional support from the Community Leadership Innovation Fund, Hamilton County Community Foundation is working closely with Ivy Tech Community College of Hamilton County and Hamilton County Workforce Innovation Network (HC-WIN) to ensure that the county’s economic growth is inclusive to all. The FutureWork Lab at Ivy Tech Noblesville provides access to classes and programs to reskill or skill up to meet the changing technology requirements of today’s jobs. HC-WIN is a collaborative workforce development effort created by local business partners, K-12 institutions, higher education, and both local and state community agencies

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