Equity Agenda for Marion County

Equity is economic opportunity.
Equity is justice.
Equity benefits us all.

In Marion County, we are actively engaged in the multiple racial equity initiatives featured here. 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 five-year strategic plan (which runs from 2019-2023).

  • Economic Mobility
  • Criminal Justice Reform and Violence Reduction
  • Family Stabilization
  • 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: 

  • Interrupt or Create New Systems
  • Empower People and Neighborhoods

This entrepreneurship accelerator and training program has had great success in supporting Black and Brown entrepreneurs in Cincinnati. Working with many start-up partners in the community, we are replicating this program here (including a 15-week professional development course) and financially contributing to and attracting additional seed capital for investment in businesses led by Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. The Indianapolis Foundation is investing $100,000 in 2021 to launch MORTAR programming across Marion County.

Opportunity Youth
We continue to prioritize establishing positive relationships for 16-24-year-olds who are not employed or enrolled in school—identified as Opportunity Youth. That group is currently an estimated 30,000 in Marion County. Our partners include the Boys and Girls Club and EmployIndy. Identifying these young people in the neighborhoods in which they reside, engaging them in relationship-building activities allows our program partners to provide individual services and supports to get them trained, hired or enrolled in school. CICF’s Community Leadership Innovation Fund donors made a $400,000 investment to launch the Opportunity Youth Collaborative led by EmployIndy.

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 for students of color. Beyond tuition, room and board and other direct expenses, there are also significant barriers that contribute to students not persisting through a certificate or degree-granting program. The Indianapolis Foundation Community Scholarship Fund and other Marion County focused funds not only support tuition and accreditation fees, but also students’ transportation, food access, family rent and utilities, and medical and other health-related needs can be funded by charitable contributions. Learn more about our scholarships.

IMPD/NYU Partnership
With grants from The Indianapolis Foundation, CICF is supporting the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s (IMPD) partnership with New York University School of Law Criminal Justice Lab to develop reforms and community engagement in public safety in Indianapolis. The overall goal is to engage the community and critical public safety partners to create a new definition of justice and public safety representing equitable and fair enforcement of the law. Once defined, then specific metrics will be identified and routinely collected, monitored, and made publicly accessible in a transparent accountability plan.

Violent Crime Technical Assistance
We are working directly with the Department of Community Violence Reduction for the City of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation to work with communities and interrupt gun culture, violent conflict resolution and retaliation. Through crime prevention grantmaking and replicating best practices in gun violence reduction from Oakland, CA, and the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, new strategies are being implemented to identify specific people and groups with a high risk of being involved in a shooting and interrupting violence. These strategies include having direct and respectful conversations and engagement, providing services and alternative opportunities of conflict mediation, and strictly enforcing ground rules. A grant from The Indianapolis Foundation to the Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation launched this program in 2021. 

16 Tech Neighborhood Preservation
We are working with resident leaders and grassroots organizations in the Riverside neighborhood, adjacent to 16 Tech Innovation District, to purchase residential and commercial properties to keep land use, growth and redevelopment in control of the community. This historically Black community is in the early stages of gentrification. The priorities and needs of long-time residents and the history of this neighborhood must be honored.

Housing to Recovery Fund
In 2019, CICF and the City of Indianapolis launched this fund to build the capacity of and make investments in our permanent supportive housing system. Homelessness is a problem addressed by permanent housing—not short-term solutions like shelters and temporary facilities. Indianapolis has enough housing units and financial rental subsidies to house over 500 people experiencing homelessness and suffering from a chronic illness, disability, or behavioral health issue like mental illness or addiction. What is absent is a robust service provider network to offer intensive, wrap-around services to keep people housed who have experienced homelessness for an extended period of time. The Indianapolis Foundation is investing $500,000 over five years toward an overall goal of $10 million. Learn more about Housing to Recovery Fund.

Immigrant Legal Fund
We are establishing this new fund to provide equitable access to legal support and representation to the immigrant community in Indianapolis. Utilizing partners such as Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic and Mariposa Legal, this fund will provide direct legal representation to low-income, unauthorized individuals who reside in Marion County and are at risk of deportation. The Indianapolis Foundation matched funding from the Indianapolis City-County Council with a $100,000 grant.

Community Ambassadors
CICF’s ambassadors have become essential workers in our commitment to building authentic relationships with communities of color. Eight ambassadors provide direct connectivity to under-appreciated neighborhoods, hold us accountable in our equity work, partner with our staff and board in grantmaking, and are a critical feedback loop for us to know the assets and needs at the individual and neighborhood level. The ambassadors are paid for their time and expertise. We also provide professional development training and social capital connections to elevate their talents and professions across the city and state.

Leadership Empowerment Pathways
As we look to expand our Community Ambassador concept and provide more power to under-appreciated neighborhoods, CICF is helping to build a community-organizing culture in Indianapolis. We are working with resident leaders to identify, empower and connect more people to organize their voices, advocate for neighborhood improvements and mobilize assets and ideas. Local and national training on proven civic engagement strategies will be deployed in two targeted neighborhoods. The two-year program was launched with a grant from The Indianapolis Foundation and a generous grant from Cummins, Inc.

B&O Trail
Working in partnership with Speedway Trails and the State of Indiana’s Next Level Trails initiative, CICF is helping to develop the abandoned B&O railroad line into a pedestrian and bicycle trail for health, recreation and economic development opportunities. The trail runs from the Westside of downtown by IUPUI through Haughville and Riverside neighborhoods out to Speedway just south of Main Street and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Phase two, planned for 2023, will connect the trail all the way west to the Hendricks County line and meet the eventual completion of 16 miles of B&O Trail there. The Indianapolis Foundation is helping to support the required $1.3 million match from the State of Indiana Next Level Trails grant.

Movement of 10,000
We are building a robust digital platform—named MVMT10K—and a community-based campaign to mobilize people to dismantle systemic racism within their spheres of influence. We will recruit and engage at least 10,000 people to learn about our country’s and region’s history of systemic and structural racism and its present ramifications, engage in racial equity work, commit to acts of equity in their community, and make anti-racism a life’s practice. With many partners, we are developing a multi-faceted anti-racist “curriculum” and various resources for community members to experience a life-long journey of learning and understanding. When 10,000 people perform two acts of equity every week for 50 weeks out of the year, one million concrete actions toward racial equity would be completed in and for our community every single year.

Racial Equity Training and Truth and Reconciliation Programming
The bedrock of CICF’s learning journey is centered on racial equity trainings that provide historical context and deep analysis for racist systems, structures and institutions. Interrupting Racism for Children is one that all of our foundations have supported and have sent over 5,000 Marion and Hamilton County residents and leaders through, in addition to our staff and boards. Racial Equity Institute is another highly respected program that we’re bringing to this community. Additionally, we are developing a Truth and Reconciliation program to be offered in trainings and for presentation. Best practices and curriculum resources come from Bryan Stevenson and W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation program.

Racial Equity Entrepreneurship FundWe are building a $5,000,000 investment capital fund to provide no-or-low-interest loans and make equity investments in enterprises led by people of color in Marion and Hamilton counties. Working with Indy Chamber’s Business Opportunity Initiative, MORTAR, NEXT Studios, Sixty8 Capital, PitchFeast and others, we are committed to increasing opportunity and access to financial capital to entrepreneurs of color in our community.

CICF is one of only seven community foundations across the country participating in an “aligned action network” called Nexus: Equity + Opportunity Nationwide (NEON). This cohort is focused on dismantling structural and systemic racism and is spending the first two years together (2021-22) addressing wealth and income, and leadership and power. We are creating leadership movement and pathways, as well as conducting research and recruiting local partners to identify specific wealth and income strategies that align with the national NEON priorities.

Become our partner in creating a stronger and more equitable Indianapolis community for all. The time is now.

For more information about our work in any of these initiatives or to learn about how you can be a partner, please reach out to one of our team members.

Rob MacPherson
Vice President of Development & Strategy
317.634.2423 x509

Leroy Robinson
Director of Development & Major Gifts
317.634.2423 x122