Voices Project

50 conversations. 500 people. 1 Grant County

Voices Project

During a 27-hour period this weekend, Grant County will pause to listen:
To voices not often heard.
To individuals not always invited to the discussion table.
And to residents who have ideas about how their lives could be better.


As part of the Voices Project, an estimated 500 Grant County residents will lend their voices to a shared topic: poverty.  The project, an endeavor of the Community Foundation of Grant County, will take place this Friday and Saturday, starting with a kickoff at 8 a.m. Friday, September 20th, at the Tree of Life Atrium, 1500 S. Western Ave., Marion, IN.

What is the Voices Project? The Voices Project is a team effort within our community to connect with people who are most affected by poverty so that we all might deepen our understanding of it and work together toward solutions.

How will the Voices Project work? Facilitators will lead groups of approximately 10 individuals in guided conversations about poverty and the impact it has on individual lives, and the community as a whole. Participants will sit, talk, and break bread together.

When is the Voices Project?  Between 10 a.m. Friday September 20th and 1 p.m. Saturday September 21st.  The 27-hour time period represents the 27 percent of children in Grant County living in poverty.

Where will the Voices Project happen?  All across Grant County. Voices conversations will take place at churches, schools, businesses, neighborhood associations, parks, and homes.

Why is the focus poverty?  Grant County has the unfortunate distinction of being the highest in child poverty in the state of Indiana. Families in poverty often live lives that are very separated from those who do not live in poverty. Those in poverty often do not find themselves around community planning tables. We’d like to change that.

Who is leading the Voices Project? Voices is a community leadership initiative led by the Community Foundation of Grant County. The Voices Project is one segment of the work of the Foundation’s Community Leadership Planning Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. This grant will deepen the Foundations understanding of the challenges facing Grant County due to our high rate of child poverty, provide the opportunity to convene key local solution-oriented stakeholders, and both the time and funding to further explore how we can effectively play a leadership role in implementing initiatives—all strategies that enhance the quality of life in Grant County.

Earlier this year, Lilly Endowment Inc. challenged 94 community foundations across the State of Indiana to become stronger community leaders. This grant will better position Indiana foundations to serve their communities and lead the charge to prioritize the issues they are best positioned to address.

This grant is part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s seventh phase of its Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative or GIFT VII as we call it.   The GIFT initiative is part of Lilly Endowment’s grantmaking to strengthen Indiana communities and has been a priority of the Endowment since the first phase of GIFT in 1990.  The initiative’s primary aim is to help Indiana community foundations develop the philanthropic capacity to identify, prioritize, and address local opportunities and challenges.

The Planning Grant will give the Community Foundation both the time and money to plan for an Implementation Grant of up to $150K, due in March of 2020.

The challenge before Indiana is for community foundations to intentionally serve as Community Leaders to address a systemic issue specific to each county.  Since community foundations are primarily known for our Asset Development and Grantmaking prowess, it’s time to strengthen and highlight the third aspect of our business model, our Community Leadership efforts.

The Community Foundation of Grant County has been addressing the county’s systemic issue of child poverty since the start of our collective impact effort, Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County. We believe that the work done through Thriving will give us a solid foundation for which to build our Implementation Grant proposal.

Since 1984, the Community Foundation of Grant County has been connecting people who care with causes that matter by serving donors, serving nonprofits, and serving as a catalyst for the future of Grant County. We currently offer more than 400 charitable funds supporting a variety of causes in the community and has assets totaling $27 million. Since 2014, the Foundation has made grants of at least $1 million annually – last year the total was $1.7 million. The Foundation has a staff of five employees and a board of directors of 20 community members. Additionally, the Foundation has embarked on numerous community leadership initiatives. The most recent community-building efforts include, Thriving Families, Thriving Grant County, the Downtown Marion Revitalization Impact Grant, and the Nonprofit Leadership Consortium.

The Community Foundation is committed to seeing the GIFT VII Planning Grant component through to completion. The knowledge gained through this grant will be critical for Grant County’s next steps. For additional information, contact the Community Foundation of Grant County at 765-662-0065 or by visiting www.GiveToGrant.org.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company.  The Endowment exists to support causes of community development, education and religion.  Lilly Endowment’s community development grantmaking is designed to support efforts that enhance the quality of life in Indianapolis and Indiana.

Questions? For more information about the Voices Project, please contact Community Investment Manager, Meagan Mathias at Meagan@GiveToGrant.org or 765-662-0065.

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