Great Places 2020

Year Complete: 2017
Grant Amount: $50,000
Local Government: City of Indianapolis, IN
Local Foundation: JP Morgan Chase Foundation

Project Purpose

To support early action projects in the creation of three vibrant urban village centers in Indianapolis by enhancing Livability, Opportunity, Vitality, and Education.

Key Lessons Learned

Lessons learned about tools and tactics through the project that other sustainability directors could use to advance their work.

The city’s sustainability director observed two reinforcing principles that were changing the way community plans were being compiled in Indianapolis. The two principles were intricately interconnected and mutually supportive, lending a strong hand to promise plan success. The first involved the continued introduction to the collective impact approach and its application to place making. The second involved a deliberately staged nature of planning to match the expectedly staged nature of development. Many organizations pledged their involvement in the Great Places, not simply for the early action projects that the Partners for Places grant funded, but over the years as the neighborhood evolves.

Lessons for developing a collaborative process between a local government sustainability director and local place-based foundation(s).

Having lead organizations and partners that were committed to staying engaged in the planning process not simply through completion of a single planning document, but through the several stages that a community goes through while improving over time, was critical to carrying through on original concepts and intentions.

It does appear that the chances of acquisition of funding for any particular grant application may be greater if the funding party has a subsequent role to play in the project to be funded. This is not always the case, of course, and may not be in this instance, but the premise has been borne out in the past and may be an approach to be used in the future. Both the sustainability director and the local place-based funder learned that the mission of the other is very similar, an undoubtedly significant fact that smoothed collaboration. Finally, each gained the other as an “approachable” when seeking to develop further collaborations, and both understand that a key to this possibility rests with the observed results of the present collaboration.

Additional Information and Resources

More than 50 partner organizations have pledged to support this work.  Read more about the strategic plan here.