May 11, 2021
Corporate, nonprofit, neighborhood and government leaders invest in brick and mortar solutions to address Indianapolis’ food desert challenges
by Shari Finnell, editor/writer, Not for Profit News

For many Indianapolis residents, the ritual of getting dinner on the table throughout the week may involve a combination of trips to the grocery store, takeout and delivery from a few favorite restaurants or, as an increasingly popular option, meal kit delivery subscriptions.

Those options are rarely available for at least 208,000 people living in Indianapolis neighborhoods that fall into the category of food deserts, according to “Getting Groceries,” a report published by SAVI in 2019. The report, which tracked the number of people who live in low-income areas with no grocery stores and healthy food options easily accessible by public transportation, revealed a 10 percent increase from 2016 to 2019 — just one year before the COVID-19 pandemic, an event that likely further exacerbated food access challenges.

With grocery retailers closing, as in the case of Marsh in 2017, and others opening or expanding in non-food desert areas of the city, corporations, nonprofits and government leaders have announced plans in recent months to fill the gap.

One of the most recent developments is a proposed14,000-square-foot grocery store near 38th Street and Sheridan Avenue — a location that has been designated as a food desert. Cook Medical, Inc., based in Bloomington, Ind., announced it is collaborating with numerous nonprofit organizations and neighborhood leaders to prepare for the opening of Indy Fresh Market in 2022. The partners include Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, The Indianapolis Foundation, IMPACT Central Indiana, Martin University, the State of Indiana, City of Indianapolis, and the United Northeast Community Development Corporation.

In another recent development, the state of Indiana approved a pilot project that would provide $600,000 to an individual or entity opening a grocery store in a low-income area “where access to resources for food is limited in a consolidated city.” The money is to be used specifically for providing training and acquiring equipment for a store being opened by people who already have private funding to build or rent a building.

Also, Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) and the Anthem Foundation are issuing a series of grants — totaling $2.45 million — under Equitable Food Systems in Indianapolis Neighborhoods, an initiative to increase food access and food security in food deserts. Those applying for the grants may offer a range of options, from community kitchens to urban gardens, grocery stores or mobile markets. 

Ultimately, these latest developments in Central Indiana can make a significant impact in health outcomes for people who currently live in food deserts, said Unai Miguel Andres, a GIS and data analyst for The Polis Center, which launched the SAVI project.

“Having a grocery store will allow you to make more health-conscious choices,” Miguel Andres says. “Living in areas that are lower income can deprive you of healthy food access, which can lead to serious health consequences such as obesity and diabetes. The assumption is that they will be able to improve their health outcomes because of the ease of being able to access healthy foods.”

Creating award-winning grant proposals: It takes a village
by Melanie Priest, senior consultant, Hedges

Like the proverb notes, “It takes a village to raise a child,” it also takes a village to develop competitive grant proposals. The more resources and team members you include when creating grant proposals, the more you will be able to paint a compelling picture of your organization and the project in which you are seeking funding.

With the increasingly competitive nature of foundation grants, best practices suggest including staff, participants, volunteers, community partners, and funders within your organization’s “village” to develop strong proposals. There are more than a million charitable organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service in the United States (National Center for Charitable Statistics, 2019). Just like fundraising focused on individual donors, it is a competitive world when trying to secure foundation grants.

Your grant proposal may be developed by the best writer around, however it will fall short without preparation, planning, and input from all perspectives of the organization. It is essential to identify and utilize all contributors that comprise your village to set you up for optimal success.

Before creating the most competitive proposal, it is necessary to build your village by getting to know who the funders are in the area.

Find your funder community

Learning about who provides grants in your community is the first step in the grants process. Researching, identifying prospects, and cultivating relationships are key components needed when getting to know the local, regional, and national funding landscapes.

Research: There are various databases available to search for funding prospects. At Hedges, we have found that the Foundation Center’s online directory, is a robust and comprehensive tool providing information about grant funders through keyword and name searches. The directory is available through a paid subscription or for free at the Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Library. Additional free resources to conduct your searches include: the IRS informational tax return (also known as the 990) available on, topical list serves, Google searches, foundation websites and newsletters. Of course, word of mouth is also a valuable resource so asking your board of directors, community partners, volunteers, and staff to keep their eyes and ears open for grant opportunities is good practice.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has promoted Jennifer Pace Robinson to president and CEO. Pace Robinson, a 29-year veteran at the museum, was previously executive vice president.
PrimeLife Enrichment has promoted Gary Wagner as executive director. Wagner previously served as chief development officer and interim director for the organization.
Life Centers of Indianapolis has named Tamara Cliff as director of Pregnancy Choices Indy - Downtown Center. Cliff previously was a pregnancy counselor at the Women's Care Center.
The Indiana 4-H Foundation has hired Jamie Simek as director of donor relations. Simek previously served as grants manager for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis has hired Candace Pate as director of development/marketing. Pate most recently served as director of admissions at Martin University.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis has hired Jasonte “JT” Williams as development/marketing manager. Williams has served as a veteran coach of youth sports.
United Way of Central Indiana has awarded unrestricted grants totaling $1.75 million to human services organizations serving individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks and Morgan counties. Read

Lilly Endowment has awarded the Kheprw Institute $1.6 million as part of the Enhancing Opportunities Grant program. Funding will support the development of Alkhemy Community Wealth Building, an initiative to foster and promote cultural, financial, intellectual and social capital in low-income Indianapolis neighborhoods. Read

The State of Aging in Central Indiana has released a new interactive report that addresses trends and issues related to older adults in Central Indiana. See report

The Mayor's Community Service Awards, which recognizes volunteer contributions and commitments to community service, is accepting nominations. Marion County residents can be nominated in one of several categories, including arts and humanities, business, education, health, neighborhood and sports.

The new Build, Learn, Grow Initiative Through Fund will provide qualifying families with scholarships for children age 12 and younger to apply toward their early care and education, summer learning or out-of-school care. Scholarships run from May through October 2021 and cover 80% of the program’s tuition. Learn

IndyBar Foundation has announced awards of $35,000 to organizations that are advancing the administration of justice. Apply by June 30. See criteria

Indiana INTERNnet has announced a partnership with the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to facilitate EARN Indiana, a work-study program that gives employers with an approved intern up to 50 percent in matching funds. Read
The Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV) needs volunteers for its 5k Race Away from Domestic Violence on June 5. Volunteers are needed from 6:15 a.m.-11 a.m. and 7 a.m.-11 a.m. Volunteers are critical to the success of this event for ICADV! Volunteer

Volunteer for the Garlic Mustard Pulls at Meltzer Woods Nature Preserve in Shelbyville on May 12 and 15 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Join Central Indiana Land Trust in removing invasive garlic mustard from the old growth forest. Register
Learn why nonprofits should stop "thinking of grants as cash to be grabbed and start thinking of them as investments, building blocks and more.
BoardSource provides answers to the most frequently asked questions about board responsibilities and structures.
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Office/art space available in the heart of Fountain Square

Office rental space available on Indianapolis’ Southeast side. Up to 1,970 square feet of office space, including five rooms for office/studio and a kitchenette. The rental also includes paid utilities, installed security system, parking and more. Contact Bradley Keen at (317) 634-5079, ext. 101.
President – St Joseph Institute for the Deaf
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