Launching Thriving Mill Township

Launching Thriving Mill Township

275 people living in poverty. 100 residents. 45 influencers. 18 leaders. One word. Why? That question, asked of leaders in the for-profit, non-profit, education, and church sectors has driven every inquiry, every activity, every meeting across our community for the past year as we engage in community-led strategies for systems change. It is what has led to this day, these conclusions, and this proposal. Why? Why does Grant County have the highest state child poverty rate? Why is child poverty the most challenging and important systemic issue our community faces? Why?

Our Story: Grant County, Indiana, is caught up in what it used to be. False narratives paralyze us into believing plant closings, brain drain, and the twists and turns of a changing economy preclude our county from becoming a thriving place to live, work, and raise a family. “Grant County is always looking in the rearview mirror, managing demise instead of envisioning a future,” says one frustrated resident.

The Result: Community values set long ago have not shifted to today’s reality. Grant County ranks among the worst counties in: child poverty (#1); food insecure children (#1); mothers who smoke during pregnancy (#1); single parent families (#2); students passing IREAD at 3rd grade (#6), English/Language Arts ISTEP+/ILEARN in grades 3-8 (#10), and Math ISTEP+/ILEARN in grades 3-8 (#7); median household income (#7); low birthweight babies (#8); premature births (#9); and lack of mental health providers (#12). The data is dense and difficult to read. It is even more difficult to know and face. That is exactly what the Community Foundation of Grant County leadership is committed to do through the systems change strategy outlined in this proposal.

High Priority Challenge & Opportunity: In Mill Township, where few resources are accessible, 43% or 4,469 residents live in poverty or are the working poor. That’s 4,469 lives — 1,640 of whom are children. 4,469 of the 10,394 residents who every day face a resource desert for needs such as food, childcare and transportation. 4,469 people whose lives will get better.

In 2015, Grant County’s No. 1 child poverty ranking became a leading community headline and a rally cry for change. A movement called Thriving Grant County was born. Thriving uses the nationally recognized Collective Impact Framework driven by local residents who are imagining a brighter future. The goal is for community members to work together to create long-term sustainable change beyond a single program. The Community Foundation is growing its community leadership footprint by: 1) Transitioning Thriving into a supporting organization under the leadership of the Foundation; 2) Building a prototype community — Thriving Mill Township — that drives systems change; 3) Replicating the successful prototype in additional Grant County townships; and 4) Sharing the learnings and best practices of the systems change model across Indiana and beyond. GIFT VII Implementation grant funds and Thriving partner-donated contributions will be used to grow Thriving’s staff and capacity in resource navigation, evaluation, data analysis, and sustainability. The newly-branded Thriving Mill Township team will launch in a small and manageable geographic location which leverages a population well suited for scaling significant impact and promoting long-term ownership of sustainable solutions — all indicators recommended by our GIFT VII Planning Grant consultants. Here are collaborators for three Thriving Mill Township networks:

1) TALENT PIPELINE 2) FAMILY WELL-BEING 3) COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Program Management & Advocacy: 
– Mississinewa Community Schools
– Gas City Area Chamber of Commerce
– Project Leadership
Program Implementation:
– Grant County Family YMCA
– Mississinewa Community Schools
– Family Service Society
Program Implementation, Management & Advocacy: 
– City of Gas City
– City of Jonesboro
– Gas City Area Chamber of Commerce
– Mississinewa Community Schools
  Program Implementation & Management: 
– Indiana Family Health Council
Program Implementation:
– Ball State University
– Indiana Wesleyan University

 

Featured below are clickable links with further details: 

We encourage you to read the full press releases announcing the Community Leadership Grant and the transition to Thriving Mill Township.

Additionally, review the full Implementation Grant Application along with the Understanding Poverty in Grant County Data Report and the Grant County Community Prosperity Chart Book.

 

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