May 24, 2024

Indiana aims to combat loneliness with grants for social connection programs in rural communities

Article origination Indiana Public Broadcasting
OCRA's Building Socially Connected Communities program hopes to address what’s becoming a loneliness epidemic. - Lauren Chapman / IPB News

OCRA's Building Socially Connected Communities program hopes to address what’s becoming a loneliness epidemic.

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

Indiana wants to foster better social connections in rural communities through a new grant program.

The Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Building Socially Connected Communities program hopes to address what’s becoming a loneliness epidemic.

OCRA Executive Director Duke Bennett said a recent U.S. Surgeon General advisory reported half of American adults report experiencing loneliness.

“And so … what could we do to help create an environment in communities that would help bring people together, give them a social outlet, something to get involved in or do?” Bennett said.

The program is divided into “quick action” projects — what Bennett said could be a book event or a guest speaker — and bigger amounts for “large impact” projects, longer term activities.

“We’ve got some funds available that might help some communities to partner alongside their local mental health providers or their local arts organization or their local chamber, their local United Way,” Bennett said.

READ MORE: Report: Older women face more financial burdens, social isolation than men
 

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“Quick action” grants will be between $1,000 and $5,000, while “large impact” grants will be between $5,001 and $50,000.” Local communities must match their grant amounts.

The total amount of funding is $200,000, using existing state rural development funds.

The grant applications open June 3.

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

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