2014 Focus 2020 Grants

Nov18
Focus 2020 CAG Awardees with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Tim Nation

Photo of last year’s Focus 2020 CAG Awardees with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Tim Nation

FOCUS 2020 COMMUNITY ACTION GRANTS
 

We are very excited to announce our 2014 Focus 2020 Community Action Grant recipients! We recently awarded $24,954 in grants to 8 local community activists to support projects designed to create a more welcoming and engaged greater Indianapolis community.

2014 Focus 2020 Community Action Grant Awardees:

David Durica: #bereconciled – $5,000 grant

Dialogue will be facilitated within diverse groups, featuring a storytelling presentation teaching reconciliation. Participants will be invited to identify/photograph their “Claim to Change” to contribute to the art installation, a collage.

Michelle Winkelman: Beyond Perceptions: Immigration – $3,805

Youth artists and foreign-born adults will be paired to exchange stories and thoughts on the topic of immigration and will create art based on that exchange. The project will culminate in an exhibit at the Indianapolis Art Center.

 – Stephanie Putt: Children’s International Folk Dance Festival – $900

Will provide scholarships to allow Indiana children to learn and perform international folk dances.

– Vanessa Gibbs: GGMBC Summer Youth Academy – $1,410 grant

In partnership with Indy Parks, will englighten, engage, instruct and transform youth on the aspect of how much bigger communal life is than we are as individuals.

 – Karen Harper: Indy Sun Circle Initiative – $2,700 grant

Will create a weekly circle experience with a group of local participants so each 1) feels the impact of their own authenticity, worthiness and wisdom, 2) discovers similar appreciation for others, and 3) build trust with others through mutual respect & accountability.

Tuane Hearn: Inside Out: Beyond the 4th Wall – $4,250 grant

Producing a video that will communicate to at-risk youth the power of their own decision-making by connecting them to the stories of incarcerated youth sharing stories of what they wish they had done differently.

Darren Chittick: Sharing Our Stories: Life at war and life at home after war – $1,889 grant

Will create a more welcoming home for future returning veterans by recording their stories of living through war to allow Hoosiers to better understand their experiences.

Karlisha Russell: The Good Hustle Project – $5,000 grant

An urban youth entrepreneurship initiative. It is designed to help youth identify and explore their own natural gifts and teach them how to parlay these gifts into a successful and legal entrepreneurial endeavor.

Our goal in supporting these projects is to help our Focus 2020 graduates take the message of embracing diversity to all corners of our community, to immigrants and veterans, to the hungry, the scared, and the lonely, to the families of the disadvantaged.We believe that everyone, with just a little help, has it within themselves to help build a more welcoming and inclusive community.Focus 2020, PLC’s community education initiative, has been sponsored by Citizens Energy Group, the Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, the Samerian Foundation, and the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF affiliate

For additional information PLC’s community programs, please contact John McShane at jmcshane@peacelearningcenter.org or visit www.peacelearningcenter.org to learn more about how PLC can help you!

INRC Gift Exchange

Sep17

1901784_10202820030479544_8232251746855549974_nMost people associate gift exchanges with the season of giving, but one Indianapolis resident found that her community was open to sharing their gifts and talents all year round.

Danicia Malone, Capacity Building Specialist at the Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center, dreamed of bringing people together and encouraging them to their own skills and gifts to those around them. Danicia used her Focus 2020 grant to create a series of events that connected individuals to the larger community by not only providing them with skills to take away, but by inviting them to give something of themselves in exchange.

Danicia shared, “In the world that I lived in, it was very easy for people to not share their skills with each other, especially not share their talents. Indianapolis is a funny beast sometimes, people get very attached to what they have so we were looking for opportunities to authentically share their gifts and talents with each other and gain something new from someone else.”

The first event was a public debate about gentrification in which teams from Butler and IUPUI engaged in a debate and then opened up the floor to questions from observers. The topic sparked a variety of opinions from the community and provided a platform for the issue to be discussed in a constructive manner.

The second part of the project was a cultural night of the Gift Exchange where over 30 people set up booths to share their talents with those who attended. The skills varied from cooking to dancing and included everything from how to make home-made soap to a simple game of hopscotch, anything that could engage the community was shared by all.

Danicia added, “This project was unique because we gave the power over to them. We do a lot of things at our trainings where we’re curating something; we are giving you knowledge that we feel worthwhile. But for this event, we’re really calling upon the knowledge and the passion of the people.”

More than 350 attended the events and walked away with something new, whether it was a new talent or a personal connection to someone in the community. Danicia is looking forward to finishing the last part of the project which will engage high school students in a similar type of gift exchange.

By recognizing the giving nature of people in the community and creating a space for them to share their talents with one another, this Focus 2020 project was able to truly be the gift that kept on giving.

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International Art

Aug26

profilesThe Indianapolis International Festival offers the public an opportunity to experience different cultures and learn more about various ethnic traditions.

This past November, the Indianapolis Art Center invited those who attended the festival to see the world through an artistic lens.  After being a judge at the International Festival, Kat Toebes recognized not only a need to meet and serve diverse communities, but also for these communities to have access to free art activities while at the festival.

With support from a Focus 2020 grant, an Indianapolis Art Center booth was created to offer 3 different activities for children of all ages.  The first activity featured cultural paper dolls where kids were welcome to dress artists in international clothing and learn a little bit about the culture as they rearranged the magnetic outfits.  Another side of the booth went along with the “Heroes and Heroines” theme of the festival and featured inspirational people from around the world such as Malala and the Dalai Lama.  Each hero or heroine was then printed as half of a portrait so that children could finish drawing the other half and read more about that person’s life on the back of the page.

The final and most successful part of the booth was the art of making paper cranes.  The festival also had a focus this year on Asia so the kids were very excited to learn more about the story of Sadako and her paper cranes.  Through this project, 1,000 paper cranes were created for World Peace Day and then donated to Peace Learning Center.

The International Festival was open for 4 days, Thursday and Friday exclusively for school groups which brought in over 30 kids to each activity making their booth a great success.

Kat said, “It helped give the festival a welcoming feel and hopefully gave Indianapolis a little bit of a welcoming feel to people who may be from out of town.”

The Indianapolis Art Center hopes to find new ways to engage diverse communities in the future.  One upcoming project they will be participating in is called “Beyond Perceptions,” for more information visit their website at indplsartcenter.org.

 

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Indianapolis Art Center
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fun with paper dolls
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helping with art
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kids working on the art projects
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lots of participants
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profiles

Rivoli Park Labyrinth

Aug14

IMG_0445Walking a labyrinth is said to help people become more centered, in this Focus 2020 Project, Lisa Boyles hoped to bring that same sense of peace to her local neighborhood.  While most labyrinths in Indianapolis are located on the properties of churches and religious organizations, Rivoli Park Labyrinth can be found in the middle of an urban neighborhood.  By transforming the vacant lot next to her house, Lisa and a group of volunteers were able to create a community park that both welcomes and inspires.  Featuring artwork from local artists and handcrafted accents around its brick exterior, the park showcases the creativity of the community. Lisa found putting a space for reflection in an area less than a block away from gang activity would provide hope for the neighborhood and have a positive impact on those who visit.

The labyrinth has become a center for activity and created unity through events such as World Labyrinth Day, in which people across the globe walk labyrinths at 1pm to symbolically “walk as one”.  Through both the actual building of the labyrinth and the individuals who come to visit it, Rivoli Park Labyrinth has built relationships between neighbors and connected other Focus 2020 grant recipients and nonprofits in the area.  While labyrinths are often thought of as solitary spaces, Lisa takes pride in her labyrinth for being able to bring people together. She has even created a log book where guests are welcome to share their personal reflections about their experiences walking the labyrinth.  In the upcoming year, she hopes to add more artwork and possibly receive a grant from Keep Indianapolis Beautiful to help with landscaping.  In October, she plans on participating in another service opportunity on Indy Do Day.  Lisa said, “The Rivoli Park Labyrinth was born during this city-wide volunteer event and I would like to continue that tradition.”  With this labyrinth and the connections formed during its creation, Lisa hopes the project will allow all those who walks it path to find peace and solace.

 

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2014 Focus 2020 Grants

Aug14
ideaDo you have an idea about how to help Greater Indy become a more peaceful, welcoming, and engaged community? Need money to make your vision a reality?

Click here to visit the Focus 2020 Community Action Grant website and download the application to complete on your computer today!

We’ve extended the application deadline to September 26, 2014 and will allow individuals who have not yet completed all of the Focus 2020 graduation requirements (attending at least 4 workshops – click here to see a list of scheduled workshops) to apply. However, grant funds will only be awarded once all requirements have been met and Focus 2020 workshops will no longer be offered after December 2014.

We’ve scheduled two Community Action Grant information sessions to help answer any questions you might have. (Click on one of the sessions below to register to attend.)

Attending one of these sessions is not required, though, it is highly recommended! We will post Q&A’s from these sessions online within 48 hours after each workshop for those who are unable to attend.

War and Peace Veterans’ Art Exhibit

Jul31

Lydia Campbell-MaherVSA Indiana, an organization founded to provide art opportunities for people with disabilities, recently drew attention to another community who was in need of an artistic outlet, Indiana veterans. As recipients of our Focus 2020 grant, the VSA hosted the “War and Peace Veterans’ Art Exhibit,” displaying the work of over a dozen veteran artists in the area, many of whom already participated in the Veterans Antiquities Collective. The whole premise behind the exhibit was to bring the veterans, arts, and disabilities communities together by creating an inclusive environment that embraced art in all of its forms.  Lydia Campbell-Maher, Director of Grants and Marketing shared, “It shows the diversity of an individual person. We may identify somebody as a veteran, but we may not identify them as an artist and vice versa. So it illuminates the whole idea that there is more to any person.”

Some of the artists have chosen to sell their work in the gallery while others simply used this opportunity to share a little bit of their story.  The gallery was on display during the month of May at the Harrison Center for the Arts and the VSA continues selling many of the artists’ work now that the exhibit has ended.  One of the veterans, Mark Smith, has even moved on to teach classes for children and has found his passion by sharing his experiences and gifts with the community. Lisa says “It has illuminated the issues that veterans are dealing with, whether it’s post-traumatic stress, finding a job after you come back from the military or transitioning back into the community.  These are a lot of the things that have grown out of this project that we didn’t necessarily expect, but that we see there’s really a gap in our community for veteran projects and veteran art projects in particular.” In the future they are striving to make a community class for some of the veteran artists and potentially collaborate with the VA medical center.  The VSA also hopes to make the exhibit an annual event for Veterans Day or Military Appreciation Day.  If you are interested in the “War and Peace Veterans’ Art Exhibit,” please visit their website or stop by the gallery every first Friday of the month to check out their inspiring work.

Project Greater Than Me

Jul17

Derrin Slack pausing with a smile at the center of the Rivoli labyrinth during the Pro(Act) workday in AprilWhile on a mission trip to Botwana, Africa, Derrin Slack experienced the power of giving back to others and wondered how his life would have been different had he been exposed to service at a younger age, thus, Project Greater Than Me was born. Focus 2020 grant recipient and leader of Pro(ACT) Community Partnership, Derrin created strong young civic leaders this past year through his initiative Project Greater Than Me, which provides service opportunities to youth in the Indianapolis area.  The program lasted the entire school year and engaged 7th through 12th grade youth in community service projects every Saturday.  Some of their service sites included Outside the Box, Wheeler Mission, and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful. They were also even able to help with other Focus 2020 projects in the community such as the Rivoli Park Labyrinth and the VSA Arts of Indiana.  Derrin explained, “Our organization is unique in that we are creating another dot on the map of community nonprofits, but we are also creating a web connecting others to those community nonprofits, which in all strengthens the community.”

The first semester of Pro(ACT)  impacted about 53 young people through service. However, during the second semester in the spring of 2014 the number of youth involved skyrocketed to an astonishing 800 youth.  Project Greater Than Me was able to grow thanks to the Focus 2020 grant which assisted with funding as well as providing useful workshops.  The Peace Learning Center’s “Help Increase the Peace” curriculum gave youth the skills they needed to go out into the community and serve. Derrin stated this project also “makes adults feel more confident to invest in our youth because they see them out giving back to their community on such a consistent basis.”  Derrin plans on restarting the program on September 6, 2014 with the hope they will make even more connections in the community so youth can empower themselves and Indianapolis with a mission that is truly greater than them.

If you’re interested, you can learn more and/or sign-up to get more involved with Project Greater Than Me by going to proactcp.org

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Derrin Slack and Ed Stites helping out at a workday with Pro(Act), Inc. in April 2014 at the labyrinth.
Derrin Slack and Ed Stites helping out at a workday with Pro(Act), Inc. in April 2014 at the labyrinth.
Derrin Slack pausing with a smile at the center of the labyrinth during the walk he took on the Pro (Act) workday in April
Derrin Slack pausing with a smile at the center of the labyrinth during the walk he took on the Pro (Act) workday in April

 

Focus 2020 is a civic engagement and community education initiative led by Peace Learning Center with support from more than 57 other local organizations and businesses.  Their goal is to create a more welcoming greater Indianapolis community by the year 2020.  The initiative includes a series of public forums, free workshops, and grants for community action projects.  Focus 2020 is sponsored by Citizens Energy group, the Indianapolis Foundation, a CICF affiliate, the Samerian Foundation, and the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF affiliate.

Learn more about Focus 2020 at http://www.infocus2020.org/

Focus 2020 Community Action Grant Award Ceremony

Sep11

Focus 2020 CAG Awardees with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard and Tim Nation

On Thursday, September 5, 12 greater Indianapolis residents were recognized and awarded a combined total of $25,000 in Focus 2020 Community Action Grants by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Peace Learning Center, and members of the Focus 2020 Leadership Council during a ceremony at the Sagamore Institute.

The grants were awarded to support new projects designed to further the goals of the Focus 2020 initiative by creating more communication between groups in our community, developing an awareness and appreciation of Indianapolis’ diversity, and helping to achieve a synergy of strengths.

“These FOCUS 2020 participants are taking the message of embracing diversity to all corners of our community, to immigrants and veterans, to the hungry, the scared, and the lonely, to the families of the disadvantaged,” said John McShane, Peace Learning Center’s director of community programs, “These individuals are demonstrating that, with just a little help, they have it within themselves to help build a more welcoming and inclusive community.”

All of the applicants and awardees demonstrated significant commitment to these goals by attending more than 16 hours of training in diversity appreciation, inclusivity techniques, and communication skills. The grants were made possible by the Efroymson Family Fund, a CICF affiliate.

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