This just in: ‘Community game changers’ are honored by LISC

Ash and Elm Cider Co. was a beneficiary of the Build Fund, the award-winning initiative of King Park Development Corp.

Initiatives of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation and King Park Development Corp. were among those gaining Love Thy Neighborhood Awards during the third annual event hosted by the Local Initiatives Support Corp. Indianapolis.

The April 18 program recognized “community game changers” in the Indy region that have made outstanding progress in developing their neighborhoods as desirable places to live, work, learn and play.  The awards gala took place at the Indiana War Memorial with more than 350 people in attendance.

The following groups or projects were awarded a 2019 Love Thy Neighborhood Award and $2,500 in unrestricted cash:

Opportunity category: The Build Fund

Started in 2015, the Build Fund is a loan fund operated by King Park Development Corp., dedicated to helping businesses grow and create jobs. This revolving loan fund connects businesses to flexible, affordable, and responsible funding. The Build Fund often participates in loans to reduce risk to traditional banks, filling a gap that makes the transaction possible. Other finalists in this category: RUCKUS Makerspace and Noblesville Main Street.

Livability category: Indy Urban Acres

Indy Urban Acres, a project of the Indianapolis Parks Foundation, is a collection of four organic farms used to empower and educate people by providing equitable access to free, high quality produce. The farms grow 30,000 pounds of produce to feed more than 50,000 individuals who are food insecure. It grown into an outdoor classroom; a place for adults, families, and organizations to volunteer together; and an urban respite for teaching sustainable gardening techniques. Other finalists in this category: The City League and The Orville H. Copsey Safe Housing Initiative.

Vitality category: HAND’s Home Place Gardens

Located on 2.4 acres south of 106th Street between College Avenue and the Monon Greenway, HAND’s Home Place Gardens includes eight one- and two-bedroom duplex apartments for seniors ages 55 and older and two three-bedroom detached homes for families who have survived violence. The multi-generational community adds housing diversity to the affluent city. Fewer than 1 percent of the county’s 1,528 affordable rental unit are in Carmel, according to a 2018 housing study. Other finalists in this category: Hearts & Hands of Indiana andShelton Heights Neighborhood Park thru Indy Gateway.

Education category: Starfish Initiative

Starfish Initiative has a simple mission: to get academically promising, low-income students to graduate high school and move on to higher education, prepared to work toward and secure a degree. To achieve this goal, Starfish Initiative’s unique 1-on-1 mentoring program pairs economically disadvantaged high school students in Marion County with college-educated mentors. Starfish is dedicated to ending the cycle of poverty through mentorship and education access for under-represented, predominantly minority youth ages 14-18. Other finalists in this category: Ransburg YMCA Early Learning Center and Brookside Community Play.

The following organization was awarded the $5,000 People’s Choice Award by live voting at the event:

People’s Choice category: Brookside Community Play

Brookside CDC was established in 2016 to create opportunities of renewal and transformation in the lives of people residing in the Brookside neighborhood. Their Play initiative serves youth exposed to poverty-induced trauma through play-based development. The focus is not simply to achieve generic outcomes related to school performance and career readiness, but to address the underlying developmental delays that are the direct result of poverty-induced trauma.

(LISC) Indianapolis is the local office of a national organization that helps resident-led, community-based development organizations transform distressed communities and neighborhoods into healthy ones — good places to live, do business, work, and raise families. By providing capital, technical expertise, training, and information, LISC supports the development of local leadership and the creation of affordable housing; commercial, industrial, and community facilities; businesses; and jobs. In short, we help neighbors build communities.