Year-end is timely to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments and survey the coming year. Having celebrated Prosperity Indiana’s 30th Anniversary in November, reflection also includes the many years of impact. If you missed the celebration and Prosperity Indiana Summit, where we unveiled the new brand identity, I invite you to watch the commemorative video.
For 30 years, the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development has focused on the assets of local people, mobilizing collective action to advance Indiana’s communities. Now doing business under a new name, Prosperity Indiana, our mission hasn’t changed; we are still dedicated to supporting a network of organizations that build resilient families and vital communities. The new brand embodies a more authentic and approachable way to convey our vision and comprehensive work to strengthen Indiana communities.
As you think about the highlights below, remember Prosperity Indiana delivers services in four ways to members: advocate, community builder and connector, capacity builder, and funder.
As an advocate, the Prosperity Indiana policy team was a coalition partner to improve Indiana’s Individual Development Accounts (IDA) program. With member engagement, including diligent efforts by the TRI-CAP staff, policymakers added vehicle purchase as an eligible use of savings in the IDA program. Partnering with the City of Gary Redevelopment Commission, the policy team also advocated for experimental tools for Lake County to better address the issues of vacancy and abandonment, including challenges of 1) serial tax delinquency, 2) the tax sale process, and 3) disposition of redevelopment commission owned properties.
Again in coalition, the policy team stopped the expansion of predatory payday lending. As the policy team looks ahead, 2017 will again require mobilization on this issue of payday lending. Other priority issues for the year ahead include uniform property tax assessment for mission-based affordable housing and continuation of the mortgage foreclosure filing fee as a source of funding for housing counseling and mortgage foreclosure prevention. At the federal and state administrative policy junction, the policy team worked with the National Low Income Housing Coalition to deliver a webinar and generate member feedback to inform Indiana’s use of the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF).
As a connector, we delivered the Prosperity Indiana Summit. Over 200 people attended with 36 percent attending the placemaking sessions, 26 percent participating in the policymaking sessions and the balance attending some of each track. Sixty-six (66) percent of attendees reported extreme satisfaction with the content and logistics. The annual awards luncheon honored leadership and program impact in the following winners:
- John Niederman Rural Development Leadership Award
Charles Heintzelman, Milestone Ventures
- Michael Carroll Community Economic Development Leadership Award
James Taylor, John Boner Neighborhood Centers
- Robert O. Zdenek Staff Member of the Year Award
Gladys Muhammad, South Bend Heritage Foundation
- Key Award for Services Program of the Year
Back Home in Indiana Alliance, Indianapolis
Another connecting strategy is our role in providing staff support for the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network. In 2016, the Network was selected to participate in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Your Money, Your Goals cohort and trained 98 organizations and 150 people on this financial capabilities curriculum. Thanks to generous support from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network also built partner capacity for asset-building strategies in Northwest Indiana (NWI) with the Porter County United Way.
We also convene communities of practice, or affinity groups, to provide members opportunities to exchange resources, information, and ideas to bolster each other’s work. The details and discussion notes from the various affinity groups are documented on the forum pages.
As a community builder, Prosperity Indiana continued work with the Legacy Foundation in Lake County to advance comprehensive community development through the Neighborhood Spotlight program. This year’s Neighborhood Spotlight communities were Gary’s Emerson neighborhood and Griffith, where Prosperity Indiana provided collective impact planning and capacity building support to residents and local leaders throughout the year.
Other community building strategies included a partnership with member the Indiana Cooperative Development Center to deliver a one-day conference on worker cooperatives as a community economic development tool for financial empowerment and a similar conference on Cooperatives and Communities of Color. The conference on worker cooperatives highlighted them as a business succession strategy to generate local wealth and revitalized downtowns. The Cooperatives and Communities of Color conference focused on strategies for equity and social justice from community ownership. Lastly, with support from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC), Prosperity Indiana worked with member Fifth Third Bank to shape a community benefits agreement, which was announced last month to great acclaim for a robust and collaborative process.
Capacity building strategies included another year of robust training and technical assistance consulting. Trainings this year included Housing Counseling, Foreclosure Basics, Developing an Affordable Housing Project from the Ground Up, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, Certified Green Professional, Effective Non-Profit Boards for Real Estate Development, Abandoned Housing Strategies, and Placemaking Basics. For 2016, the capacity building team delivered these courses in a series of "mini-institutes" that allowed participants to encounter more professionals in the community economic development field, learn from others through affinity groups and receive technical assistance from the training team in some cases. Training benefitted 123 participants across these classes, reporting high satisfaction. We also expanded our webinar offerings, covering a variety of topics and archived on the member portal. Looking ahead to 2017, the capacity building team is planning the training calendar now with our partner and funder, Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The team is also working with the board of directors to plan and implement a comprehensive community development institute, as outlined in Prosperity Indiana’s strategic plan. You will hear more about this in the weeks ahead.
Consulting work with members this year has included projects in organizational development, project and program development, and community and strategic planning. With a grant from member Vectren Foundation, Prosperity Indiana is supporting quality of life planning and convening in a neighborhood in Anderson. Through a partnership with the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders, the capacity building team supported leadership development in Sheridan in partnership with member Hamilton County Area Neighborhood Development. In Huntingburg, the local public housing authority worked with the team to increase their housing development capacity through a non-profit development strategy.
Alongside member City of Michigan City, the team has supported neighborhood planning activity using a comprehensive community development strategy. Members also engaged the capacity building team for grantwriting and grant review, including Terramark and Pass the Torch for Women Foundation. Early in the year, Hope of Evansville engaged the team for strategic planning. Prosperity Indiana staff also assisted United North East Community Development Corp. with updating their housing strategy and providing data analysis services. In collaboration with member KW Consultants, the team is working on a housing needs assessment for the Town of Speedway. The capacity building team has also been working with Coburn Place to develop a housing strategy in light of changing funding.
As a funder, Prosperity Indiana continues to support members in local communities with a desire to collaborate in fundraising through Homeward Bound. Another 2016 accomplishment was our role in helping community development financial institution (CDFI) members Brightpoint and HomesteadCS establish Community Loan CentersTM upon receiving grant funding from JP Morgan Chase PRO Neighborhoods to create an alternative to payday lending.
In 2017, the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network will make grants and provide technical assistance to five organizations participating in a learning cluster integrating financial capability. The Network has found lack of access to financial planning resources to be an obstacle to achieving financial stability. Research indicates that integrating financial capability – understood as knowledge plus skills plus resources – into existing programs is the best strategy for focusing on the family balance sheet. The following organizations are participating in the learning cluster: Dress for Success empowers women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire, and development tools. Connected by 25 creates paths of success for young people aging out of foster care. Families First delivers family and individual counseling services. Coburn Place provides transitional housing for those who have experienced domestic violence. EmployIndy provides workforce development. Participating organizations will develop theory of change, resource assessment, and planning logic models for intended financial capability strategies. The Network will develop case studies from organizations to understand lessons learned and promote achievements.
Prosperity Indiana will also reprise an updated version of its Solar Uniting Neighbors (SUN) grant program to fund solar photovoltaic projects and create community discussions about sustainability. Thank you to member Citizens Action Coalition, which has been a champion of the program and helped secure investment from Duke Energy. Prosperity Indiana recently hired Allyson Mitchell as Director of Sustainability to implement this program and build a portfolio of sustainability strategy support with members.
If you think there is a way Prosperity Indiana can aid your work and strengthen our communities, do not hesitate to call us at 317.454.8533 or email us at email@example.com.