The boundaries of productivity and progress on the Southside of Indianapolis have expanded through the unique partnership of Fifth Third Bank, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and University of Indianapolis. These three entities have partnered to bring an extraordinary Quality of Life Plan to the south side of the city.
The proposed focus area covers 4.25 square miles and is bounded by 1-65, I-465 and Raymond and Meridian streets. The area primarily includes University Heights, Gateway Community Alliance, South Village, Friends of Garfield Park and Garfield Park Neighborhood Association. LISC and UIndy are heavily involved in supporting this area’s Quality of Life Plan and will help drive additional enhancements to the Southside.
Although the neighborhood is stricken with a 20- percent poverty rate, higher than average unemployment and an excess of empty homes and storefronts, the citizens of this area have come together to shape the neighborhood’s course. The Community Reinvestment Act Enterprise Grant from Fifth Third Bank of Greater Indiana, will contribute $100,000 to the 18-month Quality of Life Plan. The plan will identify opportunities to strengthen all aspects of life and create a vision for the future in an area that is rich in tradition and history. An additional $70,000 will support the planning process behind this initiative on the behalf of LISC and UIndy. Revitalization efforts will seek to spur community development and neighborhood engagement with a goal of increasing employment, stemming poverty and reducing the amount of vacant homes and storefronts.
A related initiative, the Garfield Park Creative Community Project, is sponsored by Big Car Collaborative, an artist-led nonprofit organization specializing in creative place-making, community art and social practice. This is an inclusive effort to engage residents, create jobs, boost livability and develop space for education and cultural programming. This creative approach to community development will boost momentum for this overlooked area of the city. The project, along with the Quality of Life Plan, sets the stage for the Southside to become a place where art and education are a catalysts for social and economic change and upward mobility in Indianapolis.