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MORRIS: Celebrate city’s philanthropy scene

April 6, 2013
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MorrisGood things are happening in the philanthropic community. On April 2, the United Way of Central Indiana held its annual meeting luncheon. On the same day, IUPUI recognized more than 30 individuals and organizations during its annual Spirit of Philanthropy awards luncheon. And on April 9, IU will hold the inaugural ceremony for its newly formed School of Philanthropy on the IUPUI campus—the first school of its kind in the country.

United Way celebrated raising a projected $41 million from the 2012 campaign co-chaired by the dynamic duo of Steve Schenck and Marianne Glick. This record result was especially impressive considering the sluggish economy.

A highlight of the United Way meeting was the recognition of four new Spirit United honorees—Duke Realty Corp., Ice Miller, Indianapolis Power & Light, and Roche Diagnostics. These companies provided financial support and resources above and beyond successful workplace campaigns and provided significant volunteer support for United Way’s mission. They join 16 previous honorees.

United Way honored 22 top contributors and six distinguished campaigns. It also awarded a total of more than $743,000 in grants to three public elementary schools in some of the region’s neediest areas—Sunnyside Elementary in Lawrence Township, Snacks Crossing in Pike Township, and the Center for Inquiry III in Indianapolis Public Schools’ School 27. United Way’s focus on education ties to its mission of helping people learn more, enabling them to earn more and lead safe and healthy lives.

The annual meeting served as the final farewell for 23-year UWCI veteran Ellen Annala. She passed the CEO’s baton to Ann Murtlow, the former head of Indianapolis Power & Light. I can’t say enough about the enormous contributions Ellen made to this community during her tenure at United Way. So many individuals and families have been touched as a result of her dedication and hard work. Good luck, Ellen, and thanks for all you’ve done.

The community has every reason to be excited about Murtlow as her successor. I’m confident Ann and board chairman Sam Odle and 2013 campaign chairman Andy Mohr will provide great leadership as United Way transitions to handle the even larger challenges that lie ahead.

The Spirit of Philanthropy Awards—sponsored by IUPUI, IU Foundation and the IU School of Philanthropy at IUPUI—was a similarly uplifting event. This is the 24th year for the awards program, which recognizes those who’ve had a profound impact on IUPUI’s growth and development through their gifts and volunteerism.

Finally, how exciting is it for the future of philanthropy that IU will be celebrating the inauguration of its brand new School of Philanthropy on the IUPUI campus this week? The Indiana Commission for Higher Education last September signed off on IU’s proposal to start the school. And here we are seven months later with the inauguration. The genesis of the new school was IU’s Center on Philanthropy on the IUPUI campus, the leading research center of its kind, which has been in existence for about 25 years.

Why create a school of philanthropy? The world we live in is complex. The rules are changing as you read this. It’s always been tough to raise enough money to meet the needs of our communities, but it’s even tougher today.

Operating a not-for-profit or foundation requires greater sophistication. The new school will be an enormous asset to our community, our state and beyond. It will produce highly trained and educated people to navigate this difficult landscape. Who wins? We all do—the neediest of our population and the community at large.

Keep reading IBJ as Andrea Davis reports on philanthropy in central Indiana. Please contact Andrea if you have anything of note in this area, at adavis@ibj.com.

And as always, thanks for reading IBJ in print, online, in your inbox, and on your mobile device.•

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Morris is publisher of IBJ. His column appears every other week. To comment on this column, send e-mail to gmorris@ibj.com.

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  1. to mention the rest of Molly's experience- she served as Communications Director for the Indianapolis Department of Public Works and also did communications for the state. She's incredibly qualified for this role and has a real love for Indianapolis and Indiana. Best of luck to her!

  2. Shall we not demand the same scrutiny for law schools, med schools, heaven forbid, business schools, etc.? How many law school grads are servers? How many business start ups fail and how many business grads get low paying jobs because there are so few high paying positions available? Why does our legislature continue to demean public schools and give taxpayer dollars to charters and private schools, ($171 million last year), rather than investing in our community schools? We are on a course of disaster regarding our public school attitudes unless we change our thinking in a short time.

  3. I agree with the other reader's comment about the chunky tomato soup. I found myself wanting a breadstick to dip into it. It tasted more like a marinara sauce; I couldn't eat it as a soup. In general, I liked the place... but doubt that I'll frequent it once the novelty wears off.

  4. The Indiana toll road used to have some of the cleanest bathrooms you could find on the road. After the lease they went downhill quickly. While not the grossest you'll see, they hover a bit below average. Am not sure if this is indicative of the entire deal or merely a portion of it. But the goals of anyone taking over the lease will always be at odds. The fewer repairs they make, the more money they earn since they have a virtual monopoly on travel from Cleveland to Chicago. So they only comply to satisfy the rules. It's hard to hand public works over to private enterprise. The incentives are misaligned. In true competition, you'd have multiple roads, each build by different companies motivated to make theirs more attractive. Working to attract customers is very different than working to maximize profit on people who have no choice but to choose your road. Of course, we all know two roads would be even more ridiculous.

  5. The State is in a perfect position. The consortium overpaid for leasing the toll road. Good for the State. The money they paid is being used across the State to upgrade roads and bridges and employ people at at time most of the country is scrambling to fund basic repairs. Good for the State. Indiana taxpayers are no longer subsidizing the toll roads to the tune of millions a year as we had for the last 20 years because the legislature did not have the guts to raise tolls. Good for the State. If the consortium fails, they either find another operator, acceptable to the State, to buy them out or the road gets turned back over to the State and we keep the Billions. Good for the State. Pat Bauer is no longer the Majority or Minority Leader of the House. Good for the State. Anyway you look at this, the State received billions of dollars for an assett the taxpayers were subsidizing, the State does not have to pay to maintain the road for 70 years. I am having trouble seeing the downside.

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