In 2013, Prosperity Indiana began a multi-year partnership with the Legacy Foundation of Lake County to design a program that uses a neighborhood-based collective impact approach to strengthen communities from within -- through organizing, planning and decision-making and action. Four years later, the Legacy Foundation Neighborhood Spotlight program has seen four communities bring about transformation in local places, as residents, nonprofit organizations, and businesses came together to learn, plan, and implement change in their neighborhoods block-by-block.
Prosperity Indiana received an initial grant from the Knight Fund of the Legacy Foundation to facilitate the design of the Neighborhood Spotlight program in collaboration with the Legacy Foundation staff and board members. The Prosperity Indiana Capacity Building Team then worked with the inaugural communities, Hobart Northwest and the Gary-Miller Creative Arts District, to build the capacity of local stakeholders and coordinate collective impact planning efforts within each. Because of the program’s success, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation awarded Prosperity Indiana a grant to support the program and provide the same support to two additional communities, Gary’s Emerson neighborhood and the Town of Griffith, in 2016.
Now that all four communities are in the implementation phase of their plans, the excitement continues to build as participants see the projects that they organized around, decided on and are acting upon coming to fruition. Many of these projects are prime examples of what can happen when “a cross-section of community members work collaboratively and collectively on improving quality of life”.
The Gary-Miller Creative Arts District, one of the Spotlight communities, has been bustling with activity, completing so many of the action steps and goals of their quality of life plan that they’ve continued on to set new goals and objectives to accomplish.
Miller Community Builder Jessie Renslow says, “Community buy-in has made these projects hugely successful since they are community-sourced programs.”
Much of Renslow’s work has been to bring stakeholders together to get things done collaboratively instead of competing with one another.
“Because of Miller Spotlight, we’ve formed a lot of partnerships we couldn’t have had on our own.”
One project sparked by the identified strengths and needs of the community is a small business incubator and co-working space, The Stage (pictured on the right). Since its soft launch on February 12, 2017, this newly reclaimed community space has sprung to life with pop-up shops, business and financial literacy workshops, and other community gatherings to further the efforts of the Miller Neighborhood Spotlight work groups and connect fledgling local entrepreneurs with resources to strengthen their chances for success.
In an article by Dezimon Alicea of The Gary Crusader, Stage Manager Gretchen Sipp shared the community’s vision for the space. She said, “The hope is that “The Stage” will provide a platform for emerging entrepreneurs, freelancers, small business owners, creatives, and the community as a whole to gain knowledge, build a social foundation, and turn their purpose into profit while building and supporting our city.”
Community builder Jessie Renslow (left) with Gretchen Sipp, manager of The Stage, a new small business incubator in Miller
Meanwhile, in another Spotlight community close to Miller, part of the Gary Downtown-Emerson neighborhood’s audacious plan is to turn this blighted area into an eco-district. Pastor Curtis Whittaker, Executive Director of FAITH CDC, the convening organization for Emerson’s Neighborhood Spotlight, said that the planning process was valuable in that it “forced doers to step back to create a vision and plan for moving forward.”
He added, “We’re grateful for the opportunity to see what the goal is and the steps to complete that goal.”
For Emerson, the Neighborhood Spotlight process has been “instrumental in pulling people together to get things done.”
This has been transformational for a neighborhood that had experienced planning burnout because its residents felt that many of the City’s plans had not come to fruition. The grassroots process that Neighborhood Spotlight provided allowed residents to see progress through early action projects and to build community and hope for the future of their neighborhood.
One of these tangible beacons of change in the Emerson neighborhood has been FAITH Farms. Burgeoning on the former site of two abandoned houses are crops of herbs and vegetables (pictured on the right). Currently tended to by a mixture of two paid staff, students receiving spending money for the summer and upcoming school year, and community volunteers, members of this urban farm crew are building agricultural skills as they plant, tend, weed, and harvest their crops. A farm stand is set up to allow neighbors to purchase fresh produce within walking distance of where they live. The group is also working with Purdue Extension to acquire an EBT machine, so that neighbors receiving SNAP benefits can use their food stamp dollars to make purchases. The long-term vision for the neighborhood includes expansion into closed loop systems like hydroponics and having an urban agricultural center where residents can learn about topics like nutrition and urban farming. The hope is that by becoming an eco-district they can create job opportunities and stabilize the community by attracting new residents and decreasing the number of blighted properties.
Planning for collective impact that leads to community transformation takes time and investment from a variety of stakeholders. Seeing the progress that each community has made to improve quality of life for themselves and their neighbors, through initiatives like Neighborhood Spotlight, is an incredible reward that reaches well beyond the time that the Prosperity Indiana team spends with resident leaders and community stakeholders. To learn more about collective impact and the framework we use for comprehensive community development, visit the Resource Library on our website.
To learn more about the Neighborhood Spotlight program and explore each community’s plan for collective impact, visit the Legacy Foundation’s website.
In our earlier blog, we outlined the topics to be examined this year in the General Assembly’s interim study committees. Now, we have also learned the legislator assignments to these committees. Below is a list of the committee assignments for the committees we are watching on behalf of Prosperity Indiana’s member interests, as well as a summary of the topics under consideration by those committees that are of interest to our membership.
Stay tuned to our blog or check here for updates on dates for interim study committee meetings.
Corrections and Criminal Code
CHR- Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis
V CHR- Rep. Thomas Washburne, R-Inglefield
Sen. Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville
Rep. Edward DeLaney, D-Indianapolis
Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis
Rep. Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville
Sen. Timothy Lanane, D-Anderson
Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville
Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Portage
Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica
Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis
Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington
Sen. James Tomes, R-Wadesville
Rep. Gregory Steuerwald, R-Avon
The Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Committee will examine the availability and certification of treatment providers and treatment facilities and extending support services (including mental health and addiction treatment) to individuals in the criminal justice system
Courts and the Judiciary
CHR- Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville
V CHR- Gregory Steuerwald, R-Avon
Sen. Randall Head, R-Logansport
Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis
Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek
Rep. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend
Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend
Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago
Rep. Karen Engleman, R-Corydon
Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis
Rep. Chris May, R-Bedford
Rep. Thomas Washburne, R-Inglefield
The Courts and the Judiciary Interim Committee will study Adult Protective Services, indigent services for persons charged with a misdemeanor, civil forfeiture laws, defense services for children in need of services and guardianship.
CHR- Sen. Doug Eckerty, R-Yorktown
V CHR- Rep. David Wolkins, R-Warsaw
Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso
Rep. Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron
Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange
Rep. Greg Beumer, R-Modoc
Sen. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell
Sen. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend
Rep. Sue Errington, D-Muncie
Sen. Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington
Rep. William Friend, R-Macy
Rep. Carey Hamilton, D-Indianapolis
The Environmental Affairs Interim Committee will study public water supply protection and issues related to lead removal, how water utility service can be adequately and affordably provided in areas of Indiana in which water utility service is inadequate and/or costly; the health effects and issues concerning economic development from wind power devices; and rural broadband service in Indiana.
CHR- Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek
V CHR- Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville
Sen. Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis
Rep. Robert Cherry, R-Greenfield
Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne
Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers
Sen. James Buck, R-Kokomo
Rep. Greg Porter, D-Indianapolis
Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle
Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis
Rep. Steven Stemler, D-Jeffersonville
Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton
The Fiscal Policy Interim Committee will study uniform property tax assessment of nonprofit entities (KEY PRIORITY), issues related to establishing a neighborhood enhancement property tax relief program, a multi-year review of certain tax incentives, and tax increment financing issues
Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services
CHR- Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso
V CHR- Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove
Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville
Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary
Sen. Michael Bohacek, R-Michiana Shores
Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem
Rep. David Frizzell, R-Greenwood
Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville
Rep. Robin Shackleford, D-Indianapolis
Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond
Rep. Vanessa Summers, D-Indianapolis
Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola
The Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services Interim Committee will study changes to state law in light of changes that will come from modifications in federal healthcare legislation.
Does your organization serve low- and moderate-income individuals?
The Central Indiana Alliance Against Hate, a project of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana (FHCCI), is pleased to announce the inaugural Indiana Response to Hate Conference. This Conference will bring people together committed to combating and addressing hate through this first of its kind training opportunity.
DATE/TIME: The Inaugural Indiana Response to Hate Conference will be held on Thursday, August 17, 2017 at the Marriott East in Indianapolis from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. Registration opens at 8:00 AM along with a continental breakfast. The conference will begin promptly at 9:00 AM. Please be sure to arrive by 8:30 AM to receive your registration packet and breakfast.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER AND FEATURED SPEAKERS: The luncheon keynote speaker will be Judy Shepard, Anti-Hate Crimes Activist and Mother of Matthew Shepard. However, Ms. Shepard is not alone in speaking at the conference. The full agenda of phenomenal speakers includes:
AGENDA: A draft agenda can be viewed here. Please note that the schedule and speakers are subject to change.
CONFERENCE COST: The registration cost for this all-day event is only $40/person if registered on or by July 16, 2017. After this date, the cost will be $55/person. This registration fee assists with the costs of the speaker related costs, audio/visual needs, continental breakfast, lunch, and beverage. Due to hotel meal count requirements, no refunds will be provided after July 31, 2017.
REGISTRATION: To register for the conference, click here. Registration is required. Space is limited.
More information can be found on the event page: http://www.fhcci.org/events/response-2017/
Every year, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis’ (FHLBI) Affordable Housing Advisory Council (AHAC)—comprised of housing and community development leaders from Michigan and Indiana—helps chart the bank’s path forward on this mission. The council is a forum for knowledge sharing, policy advice, and relationship building between FHLBI members and practitioners doing the difficult work of developing communities.
Prosperity Indiana Executive Director Andy Fraizer who currently serves as chair of AHAC says, “This is an excellent opportunity to understand FHLBI and regulatory policies that govern it, find alignment, and be a resource, shaping the direction of FHLBI.”
FHLBI is accepting nominations for vacancies on its Affordable Housing Advisory Council. Interested parties should complete a nomination form.
Nominations must be received by September 30, 2017.
About the Advisory Council
The 12 members of the Advisory Council meet quarterly to confer with representatives of FHLBI’s Board of Directors on execution of the bank’s housing finance and community investment strategies in Indiana and Michigan. Members provide recommendations on matters such as low- and moderate-income housing, community investment programs in FHLBI’s district, and the use of Affordable Housing Program (AHP) subsidies, FHLBI advances, and other credit products.
Members receive a stipend for each quarterly meeting they attend and are reimbursed for travel, lodging, and meal expenses. Meetings may require overnight travel but are typically one day in length. On occasion, additional committee meetings may be required.
Advisory Council members serve three-year terms, with a maximum of two consecutive terms.
FHLBI seeks nominees from a diverse range of community and nonprofit organizations actively involved in providing or promoting low- and moderate-income housing or community lending in Michigan and Indiana. Nominees must reside in the state they seek to represent on the Council.
For more information, visit the Affordable Housing Advisory Council page at www.fhlbi.com or contact MaryBeth Wott, First Vice President and Community Investment Officer, at 317-465-0368 or at 1-800-688-6697.
Community Investment Officer
Central Indiana Community Foundation
If you’ve always wanted to find a place where you are surrounded by people as intelligent, dedicated, and passionate about the transformative power of philanthropy as you are, then welcome to Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF). CICF is seeking a person to serve as liaison between not-for-profits, the community, and their constituents, advising on community issues and the grantmaking process.
As a member of the community investment department, this full-time position will manage a portfolio of activities in the grantmaking and community engagement process, serve as a convener for community issues and facilitate Foundation supported community initiatives. This position requires strong knowledge of the not-for-profit community, excellent organizational, analytical and evaluation skills as well as outstanding customer service skills.
The Foundation is looking for candidates who are organized, flexible, and creative. Professional presence, relationship building skills, and the ability to interact effectively with a variety of people are essential. CICF has an open corporate culture of teamwork, creativity, and dedication. Every staff member believes it is an honor and a privilege to serve the not-for-profits and donors in this community. Candidates should have values, interests, and a work style that are compatible with this philosophy.
A bachelor’s degree and a minimum of seven (7) years prior experience in the not-for-profit or public sector is required. Experience in the housing and community development grantmaking, project management, and managing task groups is preferred.
Interested persons should submit a detailed cover letter, resume, and salary requirements by July 22, 2017. Apply via the CharitableAdvisors.com Nonprofit Job Board at: CICF Community Investment Officer.
No phone calls please. EOE
AARP is providing grants for 501(C)(3) and 501(C)(4) nonprofits and government entities to enhance the quality of life for all people of all ages. The AARP Community Challenge will fund projects to help build momentum towards building and sustaining great communities. If your idea is big, no project is too small. Projects can range from short-term activities costing a few hundred dollars to sizable efforts that might need thousands.
Grant applications are due Saturday, July 15, 11:59 PM (ET). Proposed projects must be completed no later than Wednesday, November 1.
Follow this link for more details and the grant application: http://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/about/info-2017/aarp-community-challenge.html
Need a little inspiration? Listen to this episode of Prosperity Indiana's Ways and Means to hear about short-term actions that can lead to long-term solutions.
Prosperity Indiana's members are diverse in their structure, geography and areas of practice, but they are united by a purpose to achieve prosperity in Hoosier communities. This includes efforts to ensure that those in need gain access to affordable, safe, accessible and stable housing. With that in mind, Prosperity Indiana engages our members in developing policy priorities and soliciting feedback on crucial community development plans such as the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) which determines how Low Income Housing Tax Credits will be prioritized and allocated to achieve statewide community development goals.
These resources are more critical than ever for the populations our members serve. A new report from the Joint Center on Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University found that, “even with multifamily construction at its highest level in two decades, additions to the rental supply have not kept pace with swelling demand. As a result, rents have climbed across the board.” Additionally, the report found that there is a “worsening mismatch of demand and supply, with the number of low-income renters far outstripping the number of available units.”
Using LIHTC resources to effectively respond to these considerable challenges is a tall order; and on behalf of our members, Prosperity Indiana staff appreciated the dialogue with the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority staff regarding the approach to this drafting process prior to the release of the first draft of the 2018-2019 QAP. Additionally, we appreciated our members who participated in stakeholder meetings and our Connection Point monthly call where we solicited feedback on the current QAP. The comments contained in our feedback reflect the best summary of common themes and concerns expressed throughout those engagements.
Main Themes of Member Feedback include:
Click here to download our letter submitted to IHCDA.
Please direct any follow up comments to Kathleen Lara, Prosperity Indiana's Policy Director at email@example.com.
For those following our policy updates, you know that the 2017 session of the General Assembly ended with mixed results for Prosperity Indiana’s priorities. For a wrap up of how our priorities fared, click here for our blog post.
During the summer and early fall, state legislators follow up on topics assigned to study committees during session. Those committees often produce findings that result in legislation for the next session or investigate issues that were not given much, if any, time during the condensed session schedule.
In late May, the Legislative Council met to announce which topics that were assigned to study would be heard in interim committees this year. Their findings can be found here: https://iga.in.gov/documents/27badb77.
The following are of interest to our members:
Stay tuned to this post and our blog for updates on Prosperity Indiana's coverage of these meetings and policy issues. Click here for updates on interim study committee schedule.
How can Indiana communities benefit from solar energy?
Solar energy provides many economic, environmental, and health benefits, and harnessing the energy of the sun can be a strategy for developing thriving, sustainable, and resilient communities in our state. Community members play an important role in spreading solar technology. Prosperity Indiana’s new program, Solar Uniting Neighbors (SUN), intends to make use of the power of community influence to help promote adoption of solar panels.
Clean Air & Healthy Communities
Promoting healthy, livable communities is central to Prosperity Indiana’s mission. Solar energy provides a clean alternative to coal-fired power plants, which are currently the state’s largest source of electricity, accounting for 70 percent of electricity generation. In fact, Indiana is home to 4 of the country’s most harmful coal-fired power plants, deemed “super polluters”. These power plants exceed national averages, both in their release of carbon emissions, which accelerate climate change, and toxic air pollutants, which threaten public health. Sulfur dioxide and other air pollutants emitted from these power plants can cause cancer and exacerbate asthma and other serious health conditions. Polluted air is an inescapable threat to the health of Indiana communities, especially to those located within close proximity to coal-fired power plants. Moving away from dirty energy and accelerating adoption of renewable technologies is key to better protecting the health of Hoosiers.
Further, Indiana has the eighth highest levels of annual carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Our state’s large carbon footprint contributes to climate change, which is predicted to have negative social, ecological, and economic impacts on global, national, and local levels. Impacts, such as highly variable weather and more frequent temperature extremes, will have deleterious effects on the health and livelihood of many Hoosiers. In order to mitigate climate change and its worst consequences, converting to renewable energy sources such as solar is an imperative.
Economic Development & Energy Savings
Clean energy has obvious benefits for public and environmental health, but it also provides important economic opportunities for Indiana businesses and workers. The solar industry currently consists of 88 companies that employ 2700 workers in the state, and Indiana solar jobs are expected to grow by 14% in 2017. Promoting solar development in Indiana is a strategy for guaranteeing safe, well-paying jobs that benefit local economies. Attracting solar developers and installation companies to our state will help to lay a solid foundation for the inevitable transition to renewable energy and will make Indiana a strong competitor in the burgeoning renewable energy market.
Organizations and individuals can reduce their energy costs by purchasing solar panels. In the past decade, the costs of solar technology have decreased dramatically, resulting in per kilowatt-hour costs that are on par with or even below fossil fuel options. It is predicted that the costs of solar technology will continue to fall, passing the savings on to solar panel owners. Further, individuals and organizations in Indiana who install solar panels prior to the end of 2017 will be eligible for net metering, which is a billing mechanism that provides market rate compensation for solar energy that feeds back into the electricity grid. Individuals that purchase solar panels are also eligible for a federal investment tax credit that reduces taxes on solar technology by 30%. Additionally, solar panels increase the value of your property. All of these factors combine to make solar a cost-effective energy option.
The Role of Community in Solar Adoption
Solar is contagious. Multiple studies have confirmed that the most influential factor in an individual’s choice to install solar panels on their property is the presence and visibility of solar on the homes of their neighbors. One study found that “the installation of one additional solar photovoltaic rooftop project within the past six months in a given area increased the average number of installations within a half mile radius by .44, or almost one half.” Neighbors and community members, just by owning visible solar panels, act as catalysts for the spread of solar energy in their communities. It turns out that peer pressure can have positive outcomes!
Although solar panels are often thought to be cost-prohibitive, these studies, which have surveyed neighborhoods throughout America, confirm that there is no significant correlation between areas with strong solar panel presence and income levels or political affiliation. This is an important observation given solar’s reputation as energy source reserved for affluent environmentalists. Solar panels can provide the largest benefits to low income individuals who, on average, spend 7.2% of their incomes on utility bills--a significant portion compared to the 2.3% national average. The disproportionate burden of energy costs for low income residents can be offset by solar energy savings; however, affording the initial costs of solar technology is often an unfortunate barrier to its potential long-term savings, which is why SUN will help to finance solar installations for low income residents. Solar technology is a tool for reducing energy costs and promoting improved environmental and public health, which is something everyone can get behind.
To see how many of your neighbors have solar panels, check out Google’s Project Sunroof. This tool also allows you to enter your address to estimate how much energy your roof could harness and how much money you could save by going solar.
Solar Uniting Neighbors Program
Prosperity Indiana launched our Solar Uniting Neighbors (SUN) program on June 15. Limited funding for solar photovoltaic installations will be available for nonprofit organizations that serve low income residents and are customers of Duke Energy. In addition to funding projects, Prosperity Indiana and its partners will facilitate solarize programs in multiple communities to help spread solar technology and its benefits to Hoosiers. Part of the solarize program will include fundraising for the installation of solar panels on residencies of low income individuals. Allyson Mitchell, Prosperity Indiana’s Director of Sustainability, is spearheading the program and will be giving a presentation about SUN at the upcoming Southeast regional member meeting on Tuesday, June 27. For those who cannot attend but are interested in learning more, Allyson will host a webinar about SUN at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, June 28. Please register for the webinar here.
For more details about SUN, view our press release here and follow us on social media for program updates.
By Kristen Billings, Sustainability Intern