CICF has new mission to better address poverty, race and inclusion in central Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A major gatekeeper of charitable dollars in our community is changing its mission.

The Central Indiana Community Foundation's CEO wrote an article saying after watching a growing body of research that shows poverty and wage gaps growing in our community, the way their organization operates has to change in order to better serve our community.

And that meant creating a new position.

CICF is the steward of over $800 million in charitable assets. But now, the way those dollars will be dispersed will have more focus.

In a recent article, CEO Brian Payne wrote, "If we want Central Indiana to be a healthy and thriving community with inclusive economic growth, something has to change. At CICF, we’re going all in."

CICF has a new mission:

"To mobilize people, ideas and investment to make this a community where every individual has equitable opportunity to reach their full potential—no matter their place, race or identity."

"We've looked at a body of data that continues to let us know that those that have and those that do not have especially in certain geographic areas and certain populations that gap of opportunity is continuing to grow," CICF Vice President of Opporunity, Equity & Inclusion, Pamela Ross said.

In the article, Payne detailed how data from The Brookings Institution, nationally, and locally in partnership with Indy Chamber and The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP); Stanford researcher Raj Chetty; and several others, confirm three things, which are the focus areas of their new mission.

  • There is a growing gap between the affluent and poor in Central Indiana.
  • The chances of making it out of poverty are slim; the odds of doing better than your parents are narrowing.
  • A person’s race has a profound impact on whether he or she has access to opportunity.

With that, Pamela Ross was promoted to a new, Vice President of Opportunity, Equity & Inclusion.

Ross says it's time out for being afraid to say race place a factor in what these new pillars represent. Every CICF employee and most board members have gone through the intensive two-day Undoing Racism workshop presented by Child Advocates of Marion County.

"We will talk about difficult things. It's still uncomfortable conversations but we know that they're necessary and you find where people are transforming the way that they think," Ross said.

For example, CICF gives about 70% of their Indianapolis fund to help make the city attractive to millennials and 30% to neighborhood investments.

That's shifting. 70% will now go to neighborhood investments and 30% to attracting young professionals.

"This is us saying that we know more so we should do more. And even if it's hard we're not going to get in it and get out of it. We're going to do the hard work and that may take longer," Ross said.

CICF says they plan to announce how these new pillars will be reflected in their structure at the beginning of next year.