United Way of Central Indiana Receives New Federal Grant to Address Family Instability in Indianapolis

$7 million from Social Innovation Fund will be matched by UWCI and selected organizations for a total of $20.6 million in investment for Great Families 2020 initiative

INDIANAPOLIS – Today, United Way of Central Indiana announced that it has received a federal grant from the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, totaling $7 million over the next three years to address family instability and improve the lives of the city’s most vulnerable children and their parents. 

The Great Families 2020 initiative will target neighborhoods on the city’s near West Side, Northwest/Midtown, near Eastside and Far Eastside – deemed “hot spots” by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for low education levels and high rates of crime, poverty, and unemployment. With these SIF funds, UWCI’s Great Families 2020 will establish neighborhood support networks that provide integrated services in postsecondary education and workforce development, early childhood education, financial support, and health and well-being to families living in poverty.

“United Way of Central Indiana is a leader in initiating positive change for struggling Hoosier families,” said Ann D. Murtlow, president and CEO of UWCI. “We’re thrilled to be able to put this significant grant into the neighborhoods with the most need, in order to drive transformational change in our community. Funds from SIF will help more children enter kindergarten ready to learn, help more parents acquire the skills needed to be successful in the workforce, and make more support available to families who are trying to achieve self-sufficiency.”

Data indicates that these targeted communities in Indianapolis are overwhelmingly populated by high need households. Roughly 40 percent of families are below the federal poverty level; approximately 25 percent of adult residents do not have a high school diploma; and 25 percent or fewer elementary students passed the state’s standardized test for reading and math. With SIF funding for the Great Families 2020 initiative, UWCI’s projected outcomes will be that 80 percent of young children participating in early childhood education services will be ready for kindergarten, and 60 percent of participating adults will achieve financial stability for their families.

The Social Innovation Fund (SIF) is a powerful approach to transforming lives and communities that positions the federal government to be a catalyst for impact – mobilizing private resources to find and grow community solutions with evidence of results. As part of the SIF, UWCI must match the federal funds dollar-for-dollar, and funds must be matched again by the organizations selected by UWCI to receive grants. UWCI’s federal grant will leverage approximately $13.6 million in public and private funds ($7 million from UWCI and an estimated $6.6 million from sub-recipients); therefore, the investment in Great Families 2020 will total $20.6 million.

“The Social Innovation Fund is an innovative program that seeks to invest in truly compelling solutions to the persistent challenges facing their communities,” said Lois Nembhard, acting director of the Social Innovation Fund at CNCS. “United Way of Central Indiana has a proven track record for finding solutions that work, and CNCS is thrilled to award them a Social Innovation Fund grant. The competition process is highly selective, and we are eager to have the opportunity to work with UWCI to expand their high-impact work to serve more people in need.”

In the next several months, UWCI will hold an open competition to select community-based organizations to receive sub-grants of at least $100,000 for periods of three to five years. The selected organizations will expand their reach to impact more people and will participate in evaluations to continue learning what works.

“The legacy of Indianapolis is deeply rooted in partnerships that are formed by public-private investment – investment which has built up our downtown and actualized some of our city’s most iconic projects. Today’s announcement furthers that commitment to our community by investing in transformative change for areas of our city that need it most,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett.  “Everyone deserves to live in an Indianapolis filled with safe, thriving neighborhoods where families have opportunities for success. With this significant investment, the goal of creating the next great Indianapolis neighborhoods, in time for our city’s bicentennial, is well on its way to becoming a reality.”

“This significant federal grant funding will allow more Hoosier families and their children to grow to their full potential,” said U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly. “Supporting Hoosier families to ensure that Indiana’s children are able to learn in safe, healthy communities will benefit central Indiana and our entire state for years to come.”

“Today’s announcement demonstrates how local, state and federal partners can work together to improve our community,” said Congressman André Carson. “I look forward to continuing to help coordinate the effort between local and national resources, like SIF, to better strengthen all Hoosier neighborhoods.”

“I look forward to seeing the good work United Way will do in our community as a result of this Social Innovation Fund Award,” said Congresswoman Susan Brooks. “The strong partnerships that will be created will surely have a significant long-term impact on addressing the root causes of poverty in Central Indiana and will help Hoosier families who are struggling to break the cycle of poverty. Programs like this will help parents support their families and make sure that the future is brighter for kids today and for generations to come.”

Great Families 2020, modeled after what is known as the Two Generation approach, is a framework developed by Ascend at the Aspen Institute, a nationally recognized hub for innovative ideas and collaborations that move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security. By establishing a neighborhood networks of comprehensive, integrated services that serve the whole family, then more children are prepared to enter kindergarten ready to learn, more parents acquire the skills needed for career-track jobs, and more families become financially stable. Additionally, as these neighborhood networks leverage existing community development and neighborhood improvement plans and initiatives—as envisioned by the Indianapolis’ Great Places 2020 project—then families will remain in these improving neighborhoods that promote a high quality of life.

Since its inception in 2009, the SIF and its private-sector partners have invested almost a billion dollars in compelling community solutions.  In 2014, the SIF launched its Pay for Success program to reinforce its commitment to supporting innovative solutions and changing how public and private sector investors allocate philanthropic resources.  The SIF portfolio includes 46 awards to grantees who have selected over 458 nonprofit organizations to grow and further evaluate proven solutions to our nation’s challenges in 46 states and the District of Columbia.  In total, as a result of $295 million in federal grants, more than $627 million in non-federal match commitments has been leveraged.  


The Social Innovation Fund is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, Social Innovation Fund, and Volunteer Generation Fund programs, and leads the President's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.


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