• Neighborhood Spotlight | Winners Announced


    And the Winners are...

    Neighborhood Spotlight has several projects lined up for 2015.

    The organization recently announced that two Northwest Indiana communities to be the recipients of generous grants. Gary-Miller and Hobart-West Side will both receive up to $50,000 next year to devote toward their vision of revitalization. Additionally, both communities will receive aid from the Indiana Association for Community Economic Development to help build consensus among community leaders, develop specific strategies for using their grants, and attract businesses to the area by establishing strong relationships with business owners.

    Legacy is also working in conjunction with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation on the Knight Cities Challenge. The Knight Foundation provides grants to 26 different cities across the nation, one of which is Gary. But unique to the challenge is the fact that any resident can submit a proposal for the grant. Proposals from anyone will be considered so long as they meet three criteria: Attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity, and creating a culture of civic engagement.

    “The Knight Foundation is looking for innovative ideas to transform communities,” Kelly Anoe, Director of Grants & Partnerships of the Legacy Foundation, said. “These proposals can be submitted by anybody: universities, government, non-profits, activists, hackers, or just regular citizens.”

    The deadline to submit proposals for Gary is November 14. Finalist will be announced before the year’s end, and the proposal will be chosen and the grant awarded in 2015.

    How it all started [This section previously published]

    Investing in a business means taking a risk for personal reward. When investing in a whole community, opportunity impacts a much greater number of people.


    To the Legacy Foundation, that kind of return on investment is worth taking on Lake County and its residents. In their eyes, rebuilding local communities effectively takes collaboration among the people living in it as well as investments to be made.


    “Legacy Foundation is expanding its grant-making capacity into creating a strong sense of place in communities across Lake County, IN. Our traditional funding approach allows us to make individual grants to single organizations working on a specific mission-related objective. Those Legacy investments have created and will continue to have positive outcomes,” commented Tina Ronger, Interim Vice President of the Legacy Foundation.


    That is where the Neighborhood Spotlight program comes in.


    She continued by adding, “However, our goal with Neighborhood Spotlight is different. Legacy will scale-up and co-invest with a range of public, private and non-profit partners in place-making for transformational results. The before and after images of neighborhoods will speak for themselves and each of us will have played a part in making community change happen.”


    Generating a Plan for the Future


    Neighborhood Spotlight is the foundation’s signature initiative for community building. Under this grassroots approach, investors not only invest in local businesses, but in the whole community and its people.


    Collaboration is fundamental for achieving collective impact. Civic leaders, community members, business owners, residents and development partners set out a plan, and work together every step of the way. Key decisions on project undertakings and the use of funding resources are aligned to the community plan.  Prioritized action steps mutually reinforce fulfilling the various needs within a neighborhood. Investors ultimately invest in the overall community plan, rather than individual businesses, and their return on investment is measured by the successes of implementation.


    From Plan to Action


    Such a plan for collective impact seems like it can easily become tangled and result in all those involved tripping over each other, so to speak, or sit on a shelf.


    However, Neighborhood Spotlight has a solid framework that prevents that from happening.


    First, a combination of formal and informal leaders in concert with engaged residents and investors find a common vision and work out a specific agenda for the group efforts. Community-based organizations serve as the anchor the community change process by facilitating the stakeholders around the common agenda. All projects and programs are meant to mutually reinforce each other, not conflict with one another. Continuous communication among all involved brings a level of transparency and accountability in reaching specific goals and sharing real dollars and in-kind support.


    “Collective impact is another way of saying we are in this together and committing over a long haul. We know that authentic community change will not happen overnight. Building trust and reconnecting people will take time,” said Ronger.


    Neighborhood Spotlight will aid one or two communities each year in seeking information and funding options for such revitalization. But under this model, residents lead the charge. So, in choosing its grantees, Legacy Foundation looks for communities with distressed neighborhoods and clear needs, often with strong capacity for collaborating and community building led by a local non-profit organization.

    Tina had these sentiments regarding the project, “Legacy is creating this unique model and supportive space for people to work together over the next 3-5 years. By doing so, investors can be more certain about the intended outcomes of community plans. Neighborhood Spotlight can be the catalyst for community development in your neighborhood.”


    There are three essential steps for a community to be considered for Neighborhood Spotlight, however. The first is to fill out the Commitment to Change form, on the foundation’s website. The second is to attend the three required training sessions. And the third is to complete the Letter of Interest, which is required by September 1.


    The final training session is June 23rd, 9:00 a.m. – 12 Noon at the Radisson Star Plaza in Merrillville.


    To register and for more information visit their website at:www.LegacyFDN.org

  • SB 101: Economic Unrest?

    The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of Indiana was recently signed into law by Governor Pence. We all know what it is. It has scrutinized and discussed before it was even signed, but what does it mean for Indiana startups and businesses? A number of companies have said they will stop unnecessary travel to Indiana and pull investments from the state because of the RFRA.

    For companies that are considering moving their operations out of Indiana, they don’t have to look far for viable locations. Especially here in Northwest Indiana. Newly elected Illinois Governor Rauner has been quoted as saying he would like to “try and rip the economic guts out of Indiana”. But Illinois and Indiana’s rivalry is nothing new. Indiana’s ‘Stillannoyed’ campaign is barely even a year old now.

    But now the question is: Will businesses begin to relocate?

    I highly doubt that it will be the sole reason for a business moving out of Indiana.

    Indiana should be crafting bills that give businesses reasons to stay and attracting new ones to the state.

    Where I think this could really hurt is when it comes to investments from outside of the state. The black eye that Indiana got from the recent news cycle following the signing of the RFRA was brutal. There was backlash from global companies like Apple and Salesforce. When a company is thinking about investing in Indiana, the recent negative news headlines will unfortunately come to mind. Companies will be asking why they would want to invest in a state that is perceived to be behind the times.

    Instead of introducing and passing bills that create disconnects with segments of the population, Governor Pence should be doing more to make everyone feel welcomed in the Hoosier state. Because if it doesn't welcome everyone, states that border Indiana will definitely point that out and welcome them with open arms. Especially when it comes to businesses and investments.