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  • Writer's pictureNeighborLink Indy

$7.3 Million in Support from Lilly Endowment

Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) has received a grant of $7,313,200 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis. The grant will support a construction trade training program called BY Plus: Good People, Good Jobs, Good Careers. The program will be led by the foundation in collaboration with Indiana Construction Roundtable Foundation, Indianapolis Legal Aid and Neighborlink Indianapolis.

CICF is one of 28 grantees being supported through Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis, an initiative designed to improve the livelihoods of individuals and families facing complex and varied challenges associated with poverty and financial insecurity

Participants of BY Plus will receive onsite job training experience in the construction field while providing home repairs for seniors with limited financial resources. Trainees will be paid for their work and receive wrap-around services, including legal support, to better connect to meaningful employment and career opportunities in the construction industry, while overcoming barriers.

“Equitable access to a job with a career path is key to addressing poverty,” said Brian Payne, CICF’s president and CEO. “Through this collaboration of four organizations, we’re able to provide opportunities and pathways for people looking for meaningful employment while also making needed repairs to the homes of many of our community’s seniors, enabling them to safely age in place with dignity. We at CICF are honored and thrilled to work with our partners in the community—including our residents—and to have the support of Lilly Endowment to further advance equity to all.”

“We are grateful for the tremendous response we received from the Indianapolis community during a time when organizations were called upon to significantly ramp up their existing programs and services in response to the acute needs brought on by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Rob Smith, Lilly Endowment’s senior vice president for collaborative strategies. “We believe that the projects being funded through this initiative have the potential to improve the lives of a significant number of Indianapolis residents facing the challenges of poverty and financial insecurity.”

Lilly Endowment launched Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis in 2019 because poverty and financial insecurity have been persistent challenges in Marion County. Research has indicated that around 20 percent of residents in the city have been living in poverty and an additional 20 percent have been living close to poverty and struggling to make ends meet.

Through Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis, Lilly Endowment invited eligible organizations to consider how they would work comprehensively with other community partners and employers to help residents make progress toward achieving lasting economic self-sufficiency. Due to the number of high-quality proposals Lilly Endowment received and the compounding challenges COVID-19 brought to bear on already vulnerable individuals and families, Lilly Endowment nearly doubled its initial funding commitment to more than $93 million.

NeighborLink Indianapolis' role in this exciting program is providing the opportunities for BY Plus students in training to work alongside NeighborLink volunteers to provide home repairs for low-income seniors and individuals with disabilities. Students will provide home repairs including plumbing, HVAC, electrical, flooring, ceiling, walls, handrails, grab bars, ramps, doors and windows; painting; gutter and roof; general site clean-up and Health Department citation mitigation. NeighborLink Indianapolis will connect the job training participants with weekly work assignments in their own communities. Not only will participants be applying work skills, gaining valuable work experience and assisting individual homeowners with repairs and maintenance issues, they will be paid for their time as a part of the funds provided by the Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis grant. Having paid work experience while in training is incredibly important for their future job prospects.

“This is a huge opportunity for NLI to be part of helping lift neighbors out of poverty and enabling NeighborLink to help many more seniors with home repairs,” said Dave Withey, Executive Director and Founder of NeighborLink Indianapolis. “It’s truly a win-win situation.”

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