Indy-area foundation unveils strategy for dismantling systemic racism

The Central Indiana Community Foundation on Wednesday detailed its strategy for dismantling systemic racism in the Indianapolis region, about two years after the not-for-profit changed its mission statement to focus on the issue.

In a two-hour-long virtual event, the organization, which controls more than $800 million in charitable assets and helps direct the gifts from wealthy donors, laid out plans for helping make Indianapolis and Hamilton County more equitable for all residents.

In 2018, the Central Indiana Community Foundation made a commitment to dismantle systemic racism and changed its mission to reflect that commitment.

Previously, its mission was “to inspire, support and practice philanthropy, leadership and service in our community.”

Now, CICF aims 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.”

The philanthropic organization’s plans are lofty, and leaders say they know change isn’t going to occur overnight. But they’re committed to doing the work.

In early 2021, CICF will announce a “major region-wide community campaign to amass and align the financial resources needed.” And it will announce an acts of equity pledge and movement residents can participate in.

The announcement of CICF’s strategy comes as a racial reckoning develops across the country. Major organizations and corporations are making commitments to address racism following several months of civil unrest.

CICF has created separate plans for Marion County and Hamilton County.

Marion County

In Marion County, the organization aims to help create neighborhoods and environments that empower people, change systems that unfairly hold people back and dismantle systemic racism. It will focus on five leadership initiatives that overlap.

They are family stabilization, economic mobility, criminal justice reform, neighborhood empowerment and placemaking and dismantling systemic racism.

For family stabilization, the group plans the following:

  • Preserving or developing affordable housing near transit stops
  • Addressing racial disparities and wraparound services related to homelessness
  • Developing protected pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure that connects to services, employment and recreation
  • Creating a personal mobility network to better coordinate the various modes of transportation
  • Assessing and addressing barriers to healthier maternal and birth outcomes among communities of color

For economic mobility, the organization plans to:

  • Align CICF scholarships to support individuals seeking degrees, certificates and other credentials that lead to meaningful career opportunities
  • Raise awareness of and address the racial disparities in educational outcomes
  • Engage “opportunity youth” between the ages of 16-24 in programs that promote education or career pathways
  • Champion policies that support economic justice

Its strategies for criminal justice reform are to:

  • Reduce suspension and expulsion rates in Marion County schools
  • Advocate for bail access and reform
  • Scale mental health and substance use diversion options
  • Coordinate services for reentry and violence reduction
  • Create a “safety index” to assess attitudes, perception, neighborhood identity and neighborhood leadership

As for neighborhood empowerment and placemaking, CICF plans to:

  • Support community-based assets and providing resources to neighborhoods
  • Engage in reciprocal relationships with residents that influence place-based transformations
  • Expand art and cultural experiences and programming in disinvested neighborhoods
  • Influence equitable development of the White River Master Plan

And to dismantle systemic racism, CICF plans to:

  • Develop more inclusive and comprehensive hiring polices for staff and vendors
  • Educate staff, board and community members about systemic racism, activism and other anti-racist trainings
  • Convene an opportunity, equity and inclusion advisory committee to the foundation that provides counsel, accountability, advocacy and community connections
  • Commission a community-wide equity index and attitudinal study every five years

Hamilton County

In Hamilton County, a whiter and more affluent community, the group’s approach differs slightly.

There, efforts will focus on building a community where opportunity meets growth for everyone, and philanthropic efforts support not-for-profit organizations doing vital work.

Its initiatives will center on mental health, family and youth empowerment and inclusive economic growth.

Strategies in Hamilton County include:

  • Partnering to create a blueprint for Hamilton County communities to address mental health needs
  • Supporting community-specific projects and plans that address mental health needs
  • Normalizing conversations about mental health in partnership with Women’s Fund of Central Indiana
  • Convening food pantries to develop and enhance operational efficiencies
  • Partnering with services providers to increase
    safe housing in Hamilton County
  • Supporting social and emotional learning methods within Hamilton County schools
  • Supporting organizations that address the affordable housing crisis
  • Funding the exploration of more versatile transportation options
  • Investing in career pathways that lead to living wage jobs
  • Promoting inclusive, accessible and cultural development along the White River

“We are committed to creating something that has never existing in our country,” Brian Payne, President and CEO of the CICF, said Wednesday night. “It won’t happen overnight. Our commitment is generational. So clearly we’re in it for the long haul.”

He said the organization is investing in human capital and influence capital. It’s increased and diversified its staff and now has more advisers and accountability partners than ever before. And it’s meeting regularly with city leaders, corporate leaders, not-for-profit and grassroots organizations, neighbors and the governor’s office to bring its strategy to life.

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4 thoughts on “Indy-area foundation unveils strategy for dismantling systemic racism

  1. Oversight. Reduce illegitimacy and restore the nuclear family. Assess progress. Get Planned Parenthood out of neighborhoods. I read recently that 400/1000 Black lives are aborted.

    1. If every white person took a magic pill that eliminated racism, it would do NOTHING to reduce the problems in our minority communities.
      It’s not a systemic racism problem. If we can make sure there is equal opportunity, our job is done. There is never a guarantee of equal results.
      Let’s stop talking about differences in the color of skin. We don’t talk about hair or eye color holding people back. Fight for equality of opportunity.

  2. This is an important undertaking. it is so challenging to develop actions to help those that are disadvantaged. It is also important to not discriminate in the process. For example, for family stabilization in the article above, part of the plan is “Assessing and addressing barriers to healthier maternal and birth outcomes among communities of color”. Should this not be a goal for everybody? Barriers include lack of education, lack of housing, depressed neighborhoods, lack of family support, limited or no employment, etc. These barriers don’t exist for people of color only. These barriers are color blind. We need to be color blind as well. Let’s help everyone that needs help do better.

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