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Centers for Working Families Begin Second Year of “Bridge Works” Initiative

  LISC-sponsored Centers for Working Families have begun the second year of the Bridge Works initiative.  Two centers will each receive $40,000 from Accenture to refine and expand academic-occupational “bridge” programming. These programs help low-skilled working adults to improve literacy and technical skills leading to better jobs in targeted sectors of health care and manufacturing. Indianapolis is one of just six cities in the LISC national network to receive funding to support “bridge” training initiatives. The centers to receive the additional resources are Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center and Southeast Community Services. To learn more about the Bridge Works initiative and … Continued

$30 Million Deal will bring New Gateway to Near Westwide

A collaborative effort creates a new corridor for Near West neighborhoods In a three-way partnership between Lilly Endowment, the City of Indianapolis and Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), the Near Westside will be better connected to the university and Downtown. Michigan and New York streets will be transformed into two-way thoroughfares through IUPUI’s campus and across the river into Haughville, Stringtown and Hawthorne. The City will invest $10 million to pay for road construction on and around campus, using funds from the Downtown tax increment financing (TIF) district. Opening up the Near Westside will make these neighborhoods more appealing … Continued

LISC Indianapolis Invests $280,000 in Local Small Businesses

Grants will be used to revamp small business commercial facades throughout Indianapolis LISC has awarded matching grants to 35 local businesses through its Small Business Façade Improvement Program. This year’s commitments total $280,000 and are helping to leverage over $1.2 million in total building and façade improvements. Doubled support by the City of Indianapolis provided the financial capital for 13 additional awards over last year’s total, strengthening the program’s overall impact. Other sponsors include Chase, State Farm and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership. The Small Business Façade Improvement Program is one of the largest, well-established façade initiatives in the country focusing on small … Continued

Duos Expansion Means New Jobs and More Healthy Food

Duos opens a second kitchen, continues serving healthy meals and engaging community members   This Tuesday, Duos founders Becky and David Hostetter and John Garnier celebrated the grand opening of their second permanent location at The Commonground, a brand new outdoor plaza at Eskenazi Health. Duos Kitchen is redefining gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian cuisine in Indianapolis, sporting a menu of locally grown ingredients infused with international flavors. Duos began in 2010 as a food truck, serving healthy street food and engaging neighbors in urban community. Two years ago, the Hostetters and Garnier opened their flagship restaurant located at 2960 N. … Continued

Historic Central State: Bringing New Life to a New Neighborhood Landmark

Plans to revitalize Central State Hospital finally become reality Central State Hospital, created in 1827, once cared for nearly 3,000 patients on its 140 acre grounds. Funding cuts led to the hospital’s closure in 1994 and the site has been vacant and in deteriorating condition ever since. Its revitalization has been a centerpiece of the Near West neighborhood Quality of Life plan. The continued push by neighborhood residents and community leaders has begun to yield results. LISC is helping to renovate the former Central State Hospital site on West Washington St. with a $3 million construction loan to development firm Reverie Estates. The … Continued

Residents partner with IU Health in the Northwest Area to create Charlie Wiggins Park

  More than 1600 IU Health employees and over 100 residents working together have transformed a vacant strip of land in the North West Area into the new Charlie Wiggins Park. Located near west 29th and I-65, the park’s colorful tire hill connects to its namesake—Charlie Wiggins was a race car driver who lived in Indianapolis in the 1920’s.  Still in the midst of their Quality of Life planning, the North West Area seized an opportunity to connect IU Health to a local priority for improved green spaces. Together they have made positive change happen in this neighborhood.  For more … Continued

Centered on Success

Vince “Hoosier” first came to the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center—long a partner with LISC in delivering much-need community services in West Indianapolis—at the start of 2011 after being laid off due to the economic downturn. He had been referred to the center by a friend, who suggested he enroll in a computer-training course with the hope of learning new skills that would help him get a job. “My first impression of the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center was a really good one,” said Vince. “Everybody wanted to help me by any means they could. They wanted to hear my goals and … Continued

A Congress for the People

If you haven’t been to Indy’s Southeast side lately, you might be surprised by what you see: beautiful new homes, rehabilitated properties, rebuilt infrastructure, and commercial vitality. All the recent improvements make it a pretty exciting time to live in this part of town. But you might not know that much of the progress being made is due to the Southeast Neighborhood Congress, whose members represent the needs and desires of the community—not the government or big business. “The Southeast Neighborhood Congress represents 14 different neighborhoods that are in close proximity,” said Angie Calvert, Southeast Neighborhood Congress secretary. “We give … Continued

Brighter Kids. Brighter Future.

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the biggest and best children’s museum in the world. That much is pretty indisputable. It’s so much fun that it often takes some effort to remember that Children’s Museum experiences are also educational. Good thing the folks at the museum never forget. It’s why the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has recently expanded its out-of-school-time programs in an effort to reach as many neighborhood kids as possible. “We’ve had out-of-school-time programs at the Children’s Museum for two decades,” said Anthony Bridgeman, director of community initiatives at the Children’s Museum. “Programs like our Starpoint Summer Camp … Continued

Lofty Goals. Serious Results.

The Irvington neighborhood on Indianapolis’s east side has undergone a major transformation over the last decade. While the neighborhood hasn’t experienced the steep population decline of some other urban neighborhoods, it has struggled with maintaining a healthy, thriving business culture. So to bring business back to Irvington, members of the Irvington Development Organization (IDO) Board decided to play to their strengths. “Housing has been relatively stable in Irvington—we have many beautiful, historic, and well-maintained properties—but we had started to suffer from commercial neglect and disinvestment,” said Margaret Banning, director of the Irvington Development Organization Board. “We wanted this neighborhood to … Continued

One Hot Tamale!

For many years, the East Washington Street corridor was a place most people didn’t want to visit. Crime was high, buildings were dilapidated, and infrastructure was crumbling. But all that’s changing, thanks to a dedicated, involved group of local citizens. And a microcosm of this change has been a little restaurant located along this historic corridor. It’s called Tlaolli (tlah-OH-lee)—and this tamale restaurant-that-could is a perfect example of the type of change people living in and around East Washington Street want to see. “Tlaolli is an ancient Nahuatl word for corn,” said Tlaolli found Carlos Hutchinson. “It was probably the … Continued

LEEDing the Way

Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) is a set of guidelines for creating an environmentally sustainable project. Becoming LEED certified is tough for a building, let alone a neighborhood. But that’s exactly what’s happening in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood on Indianapolis’s Mid-North side: They’re working to become the first LEED-certified neighborhood in Indiana. Mapleton-Fall Creek has a rich history. It’s in a geographical sweet spot—just minutes from downtown and near some of the city’s most popular cultural attractions, including the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, the Indiana State Fairgrounds, and Broad Ripple Village. And its … Continued

2014 FOCUS Facade Application Due May 30th

If you know of a small business in Indianapolis/Marion County doing great work and looking to improve their storefront, this is a great opportunity. The City of Indianapolis and Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Commercial Façade Rebate Program offers reimbursement grants for business and property owners who engage in visible improvements to the front of their property. This is a rebate program where business and property owners receive reimbursement for up to 50% of the cost of the project, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $20,000 for completed work. The program also develops relationships between local businesses and their area non-profit … Continued

Northeast Quality of Life Plan Unveiled

The Unveiling Event of the Northeast Corridor Quality of Life Plan was a great success! There were over 260 stakeholders, politicians and neighbors present to learn about action goals towards improving mass transit, implementing grocery stores, developing access to healthcare, and more. With the support of LISC, the Northeast Corridor Quality of Life plan was developed from the grassroots level over the past 16 months and powered by 928 people and 87 organizations who were involved in the planning process. Guided by Amandula Anderson, executive director United Northeast Community Development Corporation, and Ben Harris, a community builder with the King … Continued

The Working Poor Should Be Better Off

“The working poor should be better off than the non-working poor.” So says my good friend and tireless champion for the dispossessed, Gregg Keesling, who runs a very successful social enterprise employing ex-offenders here in Indianapolis. It’s a theme that resonates across the network of LISC-sponsored Financial Opportunity Centers (known as Centers for Working Families in Indianapolis). There’s much rhetoric about why the poor stay poor, but the FOCs are seeing people every day who work for living but seem to get nowhere. It’s a complicated dynamic – partly behavioral but mostly about lack of assets – social capital, educational attainment, … Continued