March 21, 2022

Indianapolis program gets new name, funding for grassroots violence reduction work

Jill Sheridan WFYI

Jill Sheridan WFYI

More money than ever is available to local grassroots groups working on violence reduction efforts in Indianapolis, after an infusion of federal relief money.

The city of Indianapolis partners with The Indianapolis Foundation to provide grants to smaller nonprofits for violence reduction and prevention efforts.

In the past funding has been limited to a few million dollars, but the federal relief money will  bump the total to $15 million this year. And the city has committed a total of $45 million over the next three years.

Director of Community Leadership at The Indianapolis Foundation Alicia Collins said the newly renamed Elevation Grants Program better reflects the work being done. 

“We wanted to elevate and uplift the aspirations and dreams and goals of neighborhoods and not just the deficiencies and challenges,” Collins said.

The hope is that more community groups doing the boots-on-the-ground work will be able to benefit.  A series of meetings will be held to help groups through the application process. 

Applications for the first round of grants, totaling $5.5 million, will be due in May. 

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said communities know best what they need to thrive. 

“That’s why the city and The Indianapolis Foundation want to make sure that as many qualifying organizations as possible apply for these grants,” Hogsett said.

In the past, groups receiving these funds addressed root causes of violence including youth mental health, re-entry employment, and domestic violence.

Since funding has been limited in previous years, it’s been hard for some smaller groups to connect.

Central Indiana Community Foundation Community Ambassador and local grassroots advocate Rosezaylnn Pinky Sanford also runs a mobile pantry. She said many community groups could use a boost.

“Other people that don’t get recognized, that don’t have an LLC, don’t have a business,” she said, “but would sacrifice something to be able to stop what’s going on in our city.

Indianapolis is investing $150 million in American Rescue Plan funding for violence reduction.  Last year the city recorded its most violent year ever with 249 criminal homicides.

The year’s Elevation Grant Program funds will be distributed over multiple grant rounds. Each will focus on addressing root causes of violent crime. For this round, priority will be given to nonprofits led by residents of the communities they serve.

A grassroots organization is defined as an entity operating under community values, shared power and decision making and supported by an organizational budget up to $250,000.

The Indianapolis Foundation will host multiple info sessions prior to the applications opening.
Thursday, March 24 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at Martin University
Monday, March 28 from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. at Martin University
Thursday, March 31 from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. (virtual)

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