2021: Our Road to Equity—a Year in Review

Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF)—and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Hamilton County Community Foundation—IMPACT Central Indiana and Women’s Fund of Central Indiana are a $1 billion collective of philanthropic organizations committed to making Central Indiana a community where all individuals have equitable opportunity to reach their full potential—no matter place, race or identity. 

Each organization has a unique strategic plan to advance this goal within the communities it serves. The collective support of our Equity Partners makes this work possible. 


Marion County

The Indianapolis Foundation has aligned its funding priorities and grant investments in the community around CICF’s mission and the five leadership initiatives for Marion County listed below. As we work towards building a stronger community for all, we are guided by our current strategic plan.

  • Family Stabilization
  • Economic Mobility
  • Criminal Justice Reform and Violence Reduction
  • Neighborhood Empowerment and Placemaking
  • Dismantling Systemic Racism

These initiative areas have multiple projects with desired outcomes that drive activity in one of two high-level strategies: 

  1. Interrupt systems that unfairly hold people back and create new systems centered in equity
  2. Empower people and neighborhoods

Family Stabilization

Housing to Recovery Fund

In 2019, CICF and The Indianapolis Foundation created the Housing to Recovery Fund in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), and the Corporation for Supportive Housing. The fund aims to solve homelessness in Indianapolis using a housing first model. This approach prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness without first requiring qualifications like employment or participation in a counseling or an addiction recovery program. 

Last year, the fund piloted the project through Horizon House. The organization expanded its case management to do whatever it took to keep people housed. And it proved the success of the housing first model and the strong partnerships:

  • 98 percent of those in the program remained stably housed for over 12 months.
  • 92 percent now have health insurance, with over 75 percent of the residents attending primary care or behavioral health appointments.
  • There has been a 73 percent reduction in jail stays and law enforcement interaction among the program participants.

These statistics far exceed the national averages in these metrics. In addition to this program providing our neighbors with access to basic needs and the foundation to build a healthy life, this approach makes economic sense. 

Thank you to Cummins, Glick Philanthropies, IU Health and the Samerian Foundation, the initial supporters of the Housing to Recovery Fund.

It costs approximately $7,000 per person to deliver these services annually. Compared to the estimate of over $30,000 in public supports per person living unhoused every year, including emergency room visits, EMT and law enforcement runs. Permanent supportive housing works. 

Rental Assistance and Eviction Report

In 2021, COVID was still wreaking havoc across our community, and an already staggering eviction rate was getting worse for much of the Black community. Indianapolis is second to New York City for eviction rates in major cities. The Indianapolis Foundation and the City of Indianapolis expedited resources and empowered our community ambassadors to distribute rental assistance funds efficiently and effectively. 

The ambassadors created and implemented a new application process while still meeting technical requirements—cutting the wait time from application to funding from an average of 90 days to only five days.

The key advantage was this process centered on neighbors supporting neighbors. Ambassadors identified families threatened by eviction, assisted with the application, and then provided access to funding to pay rent, mortgage, or utilities directly. The process prioritized the dignity of each applicant and included gathering information about the applicants’ assets—their skills and what brings them joy. This information has since been used to follow up with additional resources, tap into the talents and interests of residents, and provide other opportunities for engagement.

In total, $375,000 was distributed to over 800 people over two months, stabilizing their families by keeping them housed and healthy.

Economic Mobility

New Scholarship Opportunity

CICF manages over 130 separate scholarship funds and continues to revise eligibility and selection criteria to address the resource gap for post-secondary education and training. This year, a new scholarship was created for individuals who are currently learning or have previously learned English as an additional language.

Indiana Teachers of English created this scholarship to Speakers of Other Languages (INTESOL) in honor of Wendy Wildman Long.

Black students face increasing and disproportionate student debt. Black college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than White college graduates. Four years after graduation, 48% of Black students owe an average of 12.5% more than they borrowed.

Additionally, The Indianapolis Foundation created an additional scholarship to support traditional and non-traditional Black students in funding post-secondary education, including certifications, vocational, technical, two- and four-year degrees.

BY Plus Construction Training Program 

BY Plus is a collaborative with the Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation and NeighborLink. Its goal is to support the training and development of individuals who have historically been under-invested and under-employed, including people of color, women, and those looking to overcome the challenges of poverty and financial insecurity. The BY Plus program provides entry-level training and certification for employment in the construction industry at no cost to the student.

This initiative also provides students with legal assistance to address potential success barriers and income for students in training through a neighborhood work experience program. 

By the end of 2021, 152 students enrolled in the opportunity. 74.2 percent of students have entered the workforce, with graduates’ median earnings being $23.12 per hour.

Neighborhood Empowerment & Placemaking

Neighborhood Empowerment Pathways

Our community partnerships and invaluable relationships with our ambassadors have furthered our staff’s knowledge that the residents in our Indianapolis neighborhoods have unique insight and assets to best support their communities. In 2021, Neighborhood Empowerment Pathways became a series of resident-focused workshops and conversations geared to invest in the power of shared learning and community organizing. Neighborhood Empowerment Pathways provides infrastructure development and direct support to the leaders of new and existing BIPOC grassroots organizations. Resident leadership facilitation, grant writing, financial management, and interest-based negotiation were some of the themes, including a race, power, and class overview. 

Over 150 resident leaders, grassroots organizers, and not-for-profit employees attended these workshops. 

These efforts supported the growing relationships between The Indianapolis Foundation and grassroots organizations and paved the way for over $600,000 in grantmaking investments directly into community-led opportunities. These efforts will continue and further expand this year.

Community Organizing

In addition to the infrastructure development initiatives listed above in Neighborhood Empowerment Pathways, The Indianapolis Foundation also engaged with residents actively involved in community organizing to learn from their work, support their efforts, and assist with convening and communication across the city. Resident leaders within our network cover the vast spectrum from long-established faith-based organizations to more recent movement and cause-based groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM) Indy 10, Stand for Children, and Stand Up for Racial Justice. We continue to learn the importance and value of both ends of the spectrum and those in the middle.

The Indianapolis Foundation partnered with Steward Speaker Series to bring BLM co-founder Alicia Garza and Princeton University professor and author Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr. to Indianapolis for a day-long workshop. It covered the importance of community organizing and building relationships with both independent individuals and organized institutions working in this space. 

The group of over 40 leaders agreed to continue meeting and working together at least four times a year in the future.

Dismantling Systemic Racism

Nexus for Equity + Opportunity Nationwide (NEON)

In early 2021, Community Foundation Opportunity Network selected CICF and The Indianapolis Foundation to join a cohort of seven community foundations from across the country to form Nexus for Equity and Opportunity Nationwide (NEON). This collaborative of community foundations is working together on a shared set of strategies within a broad racial equity framework to create systemic changes in the scope of:

  • Power and Leadership
  • Income and Wealth

With aligned data—but with desired outcomes specific to each organization’s communities—the cohort expects to learn from one another, seek significant national investment, and begin to prove a concept of aligned action toward common goals that the community foundation field could adopt. NEON enables all members nationally to share research, best practices, and measurement tools while allowing each community foundation to create local partnerships and navigate local ecosystems for individual community success. 

In addition to CICF and The Indianapolis Foundation, NEON members include:

  • Cleveland Foundation
  • Hawaii Community Foundation
  • Lincoln Community Foundation in Nebraska
  • Seattle Foundation
  • Silicon Valley Community Foundation
  • Connecticut Urban Opportunity Collaborative (three Connecticut foundations working together as one team —Fairfield County Community Foundation, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and Community Foundation for Greater New Haven)

The Movement of 10k (MVMT10K)

With funding from The Indianapolis Foundation, development began in early 2021 for MVMT10K—a robust digital platform to support the campaign to mobilize people to dismantle systemic racism. 

The platform will assist in recruiting and engaging at least 10,000 people in our community to learn about our country’s and region’s history of systemic racism and its present ramifications and make anti-racism a life’s practice.

We have partnered with a locally based tech company, Haystack, to help design, architect, and provide thought leadership in developing the platform. The platform is expected to launch this fall.

Groundwater Trainings with Racial Equity Institute

The bedrock of our organization’s collective learning journey is centered on racial equity trainings that provide historical context and deep analysis for racist systems, structures and institutions. Last year, we continued our effort in inviting our community partners and stakeholders to participate in Racial Equity Institute’s Groundwater trainings. 

386 individuals participated in this opportunity last year to learn about the impact and interwoven complexities of systemic racism.

The Mosaic Fellowship

The Mosaic Fellowship is an evolution of The Indianapolis Foundation Fellowship, launched in 2016 in honor of the foundation’s centennial. Partnering with Leadership Indianapolis, the fellowship is designed to increase diversity on Indianapolis boards of directors so that they look and work differently. By providing support to both individuals and organizations, Mosaic aims to shift power, elevate new voices and grow the perspectives included on not-for-profit boards throughout our community—not just so that boards look differently, but so they work differently. Additionally, the Mosaic program includes quarterly programming around organizational equity that will be open to all Central Indiana organizations.

Last year, the fellowship announced the first six recipients and their not-for-profit organizations’ board appointments.

On Nov. 10, 2021, Dr. Una Osili of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy led the first Mosaic Fellowship community convening titled “The Truth About Board Diversity”.

“There has never been a better time to examine both the benefits of board diversity and the actions that we all need to take to make sure that the organizations we work for, we serve and that we support are diverse. And all of us have a role to play here.”

—Dr. Una Osili

Hamilton County

In Hamilton County, we are actively engaged in the multiple initiatives featured here. Hamilton County Community Foundation has aligned its funding priorities and grant investments in the community around its shared mission with CICF and three leadership pillars. As we work towards building a stronger community for all, we are guided by our current five-year strategic plan, which runs from 2019-2023. Our three pillars are:

  • Family & Youth Empowerment
  • Inclusive Economic Growth
  • Mental Health

Family & Youth Empowerment

Community-wide Food Insecurity Plan

According to Feeding Indiana’s Hungry, nearly 1.2 million Hoosiers experienced food insecurity in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hamilton County residents were no exception. Gleaners Food Bank reported seeing a 59 percent increase in demand in Hamilton County. 

Seeing the urgent need to counteract the growth of food insecurity, Hamilton County Community Foundation teamed with Community Solutions, Inc. last year to create the Food Resource Plan. The plan provides data illustrating the need and a roadmap of how to implement action through the Hamilton County Food Resource Coalition, a collaborative team consisting of leaders and community partners dedicated to food sustainability. 

The plan would aid our neighbors in accessing healthy food, bring attention to cultural and language needs, work to minimize stigma that is unfortunately associated with hunger, and create a path to long-term policy implementation to best address food insecurity as a systemic issue.

Inclusive Economic Growth

Partnership with Ivy Tech

Seizing the opportunity to impact education and workforce initiatives, Hamilton County Community Foundation facilitated a grant made to Ivy Tech Hamilton County from the IU Health Community Impact Investment Project Fund. Additionally, the foundation provided leadership and guidance for a $200,000 grant from the Community Leadership Initiative Fund to support immediate workforce needs by providing programming for high-demand fields. The foundation also sponsored the grand opening of the campus in 2021 and continues to partner with Ivy Tech. 

This partnership includes effective transformation with the FutureWork Lab and youth empowerment with the new Girl Scouts Digitize-IT camp designed to explore STEM education.

Hamilton County Community Foundation supports workforce impact by partnering with Invest Hamilton County and the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement by sponsoring the upcoming workforce series to connect local businesses with field experts and innovative solutions to navigating talent growth, and sustainable success in the county.

“Recognizing that Hamilton County is the fourth-largest county in the state of Indiana, and the fastest growing and the only of the top five counties in the state that does not have a dedicated, true campus for Ivy Tech, we thought with the great progress that has been made, the more than 1,200 students that are here today and the great partnerships that have begun, it’s actually time for it now to spin out and become its very own campus.”

— Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College

Mental Health

Mental Health Action Plan for Hamilton County

To address the complex issues surrounding mental and behavioral health, Hamilton County Community Foundation implemented the Community Action Plan in partnership with the Hamilton County Council and Aspire Indiana Health—with technical support from Community Solutions, Inc. 

The Community Action Plan emphasizes optimal mental health, well-being, and access to mental health supports for all residents—no matter place, race, or identity. 

The plan has engaged leader and stakeholder collaboration, resulting in a shared understanding of issues and data, available resources and services, stigma minimization and access growth, and partnership opportunities with collaborators. 

The work of the group is guided by dedicated leaders and based on core principles that emerged throughout the planning process:

  • Take a holistic approach to behavioral health.
  • Build common language, rapport, trust, and transparency within the group.
  • Address philosophical differences and be aware of implicit bias.
  • Strengthen existing community connections and networks of support and create them where there are none.

IMPACT Central Indiana

IMPACT Central Indiana is a multi-member LLC created by Central Indiana Community Foundation, The Indianapolis Foundation, and Hamilton County Community Foundation. Its goal is to facilitate investments into businesses, funds, entrepreneurs and not-for-profit organizations that generate positive and measurable social impact in the community. Strategic investment focus includes:

  • Businesses and enterprises led by people of color
  • Neighborhood preservation and community-led development
  • Inclusive economic growth
  • Philanthropic innovation
  • Account holder directed investments

Inclusive Economic Growth

Cook Medical & Goodwill Partnership

Through a partnership with Cook Medical, Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, The Indianapolis Foundation, and the United Northeast Community Development Corporation, IMPACT Central Indiana provides a pathway to create opportunities for individual and community growth. The project, near East 38th Street and Sheridan Street in Indianapolis, features both a manufacturing facility and a grocery store, providing residents with more than 100 jobs and access to healthy food options, creating a pipeline to local and diverse talent, and uplifting economic development. 

Businesses & Enterprises Led by People of Color


In partnership with PitchFeast, IMPACT Central Indiana hosted two investment pitch competitions. During each event, 10 entrepreneurs each had the opportunity to showcase their business or startup to a group of investors and compete for a chance to receive startup capital for business growth, in the form of low-interest loans. In the end, $110k was invested in Black and Brown-led businesses with investment capital and other wraparound services. The competitions will continue in 2022.

2021: By the Numbers

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