09 Oct Press Release
Thriving Mill Township – a new supporting organization of the Community Foundation of Grant County – is launching its work this fall to build a prototype community in the Gas City and Jonesboro area that tests, implements and evaluates systems change and solutions to alleviate child poverty.
Earlier this year, the Community Foundation Board of Directors, as part of an ongoing effort to grow the Foundation’s community leadership footprint, approved transitioning Thriving Grant County into a supporting organization under the leadership of the Foundation. With that transition, Thriving will address needs identified during a planning grant phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII) initiative.
In September, Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the Community Foundation a Community Leadership GIFT VII implementation grant of $150,000 to support Thriving Mill Township. In crafting its grant proposal, the Foundation built on a Thriving Grant County movement that uses a nationally recognized Collective Impact Framework driven by local residents imagining a brighter future. Thriving was born out of a need to address the critical need of child poverty in Grant County, which currently has the highest child poverty rate in the state of Indiana The goal of collective impact is for community members to work together to create long-term sustainable change beyond a single program. It is upon this framework that Thriving Mill Township will be built.
In Mill Township, 43% or 4,469 residents live in poverty or are classified as the working poor. Of those, 1,640 are children. 4,469 residents every day face a resource desert for needs such as food, childcare and transportation.
“The data is hard to read, but it also provides us with the drive to keep working to create change for our neighbors and our community,” said Dawn Brown, Foundation President and CEO. “We know that the work ahead will not only impact the lives of current Mill Township residents, but also the next generation as well.”
The newly-branded Thriving Mill Township initiative is launching in a small and manageable geographic location that leverages a population well-suited for scaling significant impact and promoting long-term ownership of sustainable solutions – all indicators recommended by GIFT VII Planning Grant consultants.
“The Thriving Mill Township movement creates pathways for a deeper understanding of pressing systemic community challenges,” said Cathy Weatherspoon, Thriving Executive Director. “Understanding the issues will provide opportunities for citizens to engage as problem solvers. A question that I often ask is what is it that we want for our community that we can only accomplish together? The geographical scalable approach will prove its success through this centralized focus methodology based on data.”
GIFT VII funds will be used to launch community-led and identified activities across three Thriving Mill Township networks: Family Well-Being, Talent Pipeline, and Community Development. Thriving’s staff and capacity will be grown in resource navigation, evaluation, data analysis, and sustainability.
To determine the highest priorities for this initiative, the Foundation listened to experts – both types: practitioners and professionals. Practitioners are people actively living the experience of poverty. Professionals include those working in the field of poverty alleviation because of their extensive backgrounds in research, data collection, and problem solving.
“The power behind collective impact is how inclusive it is,” Brown said. “We depend on the voices of those who are directly impacted by poverty, and we ensure that they are part of determining the solution.”
An event to introduce Thriving Mill Township and its work will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29th at Mississinewa High School. Thriving and Community Foundation staff will provide information about the Thriving Mill Township initiative and the three networks that will drive the work taking place in the township. To learn more, contact Thriving Executive Director Cathy Weatherspoon at 765-662-0065.
The Community Foundation of Grant County, Indiana, Inc. is an advocate for local philanthropy and is dedicated to improving the lives of people in the Grant County area. Since 1984, the Foundation has been working with donors to establish charitable funds and has supported non-profit organizations through a variety of grantmaking efforts.