Hamilton County Legacy Fund changes name, takes on new mission

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The Legacy Fund, Hamilton County’s community foundation, is changing its name and mission to align itself with the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

The Carmel-based foundation on Thursday announced its new name will simply be Hamilton County Community Foundation. The organization, which has $66 million in assets, plans to better coordinate its goals with those of its regional affiliates, focusing on mental health, family and youth empowerment and inclusive economic growth.

Hamilton County Community Foundation was established in 1991 to "enable Hamilton County residents to create a living legacy through philanthropy." In 1997, the organization partnered with the Indianapolis Foundation to create the Central Indiana Community Foundation.

Hamilton County Community Foundation president Tom Kilian Jr. told IBJ the new name is a better fit for foundation and those it serves.

“Our new name helps better express the foundation’s goal to build a community where opportunity meets growth for everyone, and philanthropic efforts support not-for-profit organizations doing vital work,” he said in written comments.

Additionally, the organization has a new mission that it shares with both the Central Indiana Community Foundation and the Indianapolis Foundation: "To mobilize people, ideas, and investment to make Hamilton County a community where every individual has equitable opportunity to reach their full potential—no matter their place, race or identity."

The CICF announced earlier this year it was changing its mission from "inspire, support and practice philanthropy, leadership and service in our community” to help residents “reach their full potential—no matter their place, race or identity,” primarily by “empowering people, changing unfair systems, and dismantling institutional racism.”

Over the past year, the foundation has been conducting research and talking to residents and area leaders to identify specific needs related to its new mission.

Going forward, the organization will be organize funding initiatives that directly affect mental health, family and youth empowerment and inclusive economic growth.

“We still continue to experience massive growth, and I think it’s imperative to support the creation of things like affordable housing, countywide connectivity and pathways to employment,” Kilian told IBJ. “It’s really important as we grow as a community that we’re able to look through this equity lens to make sure every resident in Hamilton County has the same opportunities both in their ability to be mobile and their ability to live here.”

For years, people in Hamilton County—from service providers to leaders—have been discussing the affordable housing issue. Many people who work in the county can’t afford to live there, data shows.

There has to be equal opportunity for employment, education, recreation and the ability to connect with others, Kilian said.

He said the organization’s work is just beginning. It has a lot of listening and learning to do to understand how it can truly effect change.

While the organization isn’t a direct service provider, it can mobilize other groups and ultimately fund initiatives and programs through its partners, he said.

“I think it’s amazing news for the community to know their community foundation is listening and understanding where some of the gaps in our community are and how we can partner to make this a better Hamilton County,” he said.

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