Now Hiring: Assistant Director of Housing Security Initiative

United Way of Monroe County and the Community Foundation have partnered to reduce housing insecurity and prevent homelessness.

United Way of Monroe County and the Community Foundation have partnered to collaborate with a broad range of local and regional stakeholders to build a sustainable strategy to reduce housing insecurity and prevent homelessness.

We are now seeking an assistant director of housing security to work with a team to guide and support implementation of the long-range plan and its many facets. Apply by January 31, 2022! Check out the job description and information on how to apply.

Community Foundation awards $154,000 in Creating Community Grants

The Community Foundation has awarded nine nonprofit organizations with Creating Community Grants to foster vibrancy, quality of place, and livability in Monroe County.

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (CFBMC) has awarded nine nonprofit organizations with Creating Community Grants. A total of $154,036 has been awarded as part of this funding initiative.

Following a year in which many federal, state, and other local funders were, by necessity, focused primarily on meeting basic needs, the Community Foundation was able to open the Creating Community competitive granting program in September with a focus on restoring and enhancing the overall livability of our community. Grants awarded through this program will foster our community’s vibrancy, quality of place, and livability through supporting and enhancing the amenities that make Monroe County an attractive place to call home.

“We had an incredible response to this grant opportunity and welcomed proposals from many organizations that have not previously applied for a Community Foundation grant,” said President and CEO Tina Peterson. “Our grant committee was delighted to learn more about the amazing work of these dedicated organizations, and we are proud of the potential that the nine grants will have in creating a more inclusive, attractive, and thriving community for everyone to visit, live, work, and play.”

Grants were awarded in amounts ranging in size from $10,000 to $25,000 for a total of $154,036.

Cancer Support Community South Central Indiana to develop a mural and launch a therapeutic art program – CSCCI has a new building where as many as 1,800 cancer patients, families, and caregivers receive free support programs beyond clinical care. This grant will fund a mural that inspires hope near the entrance and an art therapy program to complement existing support services.

Canopy Bloomington to pilot the “Youth Tree Tenders” program. This education and awareness initiative will employ six high-risk teens to learn about urban forestry, enhance Bloomington’s existing trees, plant new trees in low-canopy neighborhoods, and improve environmental literacy in the community.

Danny Smith Memorial Park to fund renovations to this community park near Unionville. As the only park in northeastern Monroe County, this multi-use gathering and play space serves 5,600 nearby residents through a variety of recreational activities. These enhancements will fund a new playground and update an existing playground and basketball court.

Edgewood Early Childhood Center to construct a new outdoor shelter for outdoor classes and community events. While current COVID protocols do not allow parents or visitors inside the Center, this new covered shelter will include seating for parents and guardians to join their child(ren) for meals and create a permanent gathering site for educational and community events.

Friends of Lake Monroe to support the Lake Monroe Watershed Management Plan and a contract watershed coordinator. A watershed coordinator will develop education and outreach to protect and enhance Lake Monroe. The coordinator will organize community forums and launch a pilot program to assist homeowners in maintaining septic systems.

Indiana University Arts & Sciences Council to support the “Granfalloon” event scheduled for June 2022. Inspired by Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut, this festival celebrates civic engagement, independent thought, art, and creativity.Grant funding will support programming and speakers on the topics of advancing local diversity and inclusion, environmental advocacy, and sustainability.

The Project School to install a small learning garden and creative play space. Located on a formerly vacant lot, this “mini-park” will feature raised gardens, storage sheds, art installations, and green space. The multi-use space will be open to the public and used for a variety of educational and recreational programs.

Sycamore Land Trust to restore and stabilize streambanks and trails at the Powell Preserve along Beanblossom Creek. Funding will allow SLT to install erosion control measures, protect access to trails, and improve the water quality along the creek. Once these and other needed enhancements are completed, the preserve will reopen to the public.

WFHB – Bloomington Community Radio to resume the Youth Radio program. This program aims to train youth ages 13-20 with skills in broadcast radio, podcasting, and journalistic reporting to produce live programming each week. WFHB hopes to involve 25 young people in the program each year with an emphasis on underserved youth as well as equity, diversity, and inclusion.

The Creating Community Grant program is co-funded by Smithville Charitable Foundation and made possible through unrestricted funds at the Community Foundation and designated field of interest funds established to support areas of focus.

“We are grateful for the generosity of Smithville Charitable Foundation and Community Foundation donors for entrusting us to invest in innovative programs and ideas that improve the quality of life for all who call Bloomington and Monroe County home,” added Peterson.

This grant program is one of two competitive grant cycles planned for the Community Foundation’s fiscal year (July 1 – June 30). The second competitive grant program will occur in the spring of 2022. For more details on Community Foundation grant programs, visit our website or contact Program Director Marcus Whited at 812.333.9016 or marcus@cfbmc.org.

About Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:

Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted more than $27 million since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $44 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources.

About Smithville Charitable Foundation: Inspired by altruism, The Smithville Charitable Foundation was established in 2007 to enrich lives by creating opportunities and bringing necessities to the communities served by Smithville Communications. As a private foundation, Smithville Charitable Foundation works closely with community foundations in the 17 counties of its service territory to support a variety of causes related to religion, education, health, the arts, relief of poverty or distress, and various public organizations.

Eva Stuart and Kaitlyn Wong awarded Monroe County’s 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships

Each Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship provides for full tuition, required fees and a special allocation of up to $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university.

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe Country is pleased to announce high school seniors Eva Stuart and Kaitlyn Wong as Monroe County’s 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship recipients. Lilly Endowment Community Scholars are known for their community involvement, academic achievement, character, and leadership.

“If you are seeking inspiration this holiday season, you need look no further than this year’s Lilly Scholars, said Community Foundation President and CEO Tina Peterson. “These two young women not only excel academically but also demonstrate leadership, integrity, and a commitment to service. They have each used their own unique combinations of talent, intellect, and compassion to extend their impact well beyond their school communities. We look forward to following their academic journeys and hope one day they will choose to seek our fulfilling careers here, in the Indiana Uplands.”

Each Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship provides for full tuition, required fees and a special allocation of up to $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university. Lilly Endowment Community Scholars may also participate in the Lilly Scholars Network (LSN), which connects scholars with resources and opportunities to be active leaders on their campuses and in their communities. Both the scholarship program and LSN are supported by grants from Lilly Endowment to Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI).

Eva Stuart is a senior at Bloomington High School South and the daughter of Jennifer Schepers and Sam Stuart. She is the president of Students Advocating a Greener Environment (SAGE), co-editor of the school newspaper, The Optimist, and a member of Student Council, National Honor Society, Quill and Scroll Honor Society, the Model UN Club, and Bloomington Pride Girl’s Lacrosse.

Eva has volunteered with WonderLab, IU Cinema, the MCCSC Cross-Age tutoring program, Indiana Forest Rangers, and Yellowood Youth.

As an accomplished young writer, Eva has written news articles, feature profiles, poetry, podcasts, short stories, and social media. She has studied at the University of Iowa’s young writer’s conference and designed a social media internship for Women Writing for (a) Change, a local organization that provides opportunities for individuals to pursue the art of writing as a tool for growth and change.

“I am beyond grateful to the foundation for this life-changing opportunity and so eager to honor my community as I continue my studies,” said Stuart. “I will forever be thankful for my wonderful parents, teachers, and mentors who supported me through this process.”

Kaitlyn Wong is a senior at Bloomington High School North and the daughter of Y. Joel Wong and Angie Wong. She is the president of Student Council, the Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science (GEMS) Club, BHSN Book Club, and member of the Science Olympiad team and National Honor Society. She has studied violin at the Indiana University Pre-College String Academy, was the concertmaster in the Hoosier Youth Philharmonic and BHSN Orchestra, and participated in figure skating. Kaitlyn co-founded Bloomington’s chapter of Letters for Rose, a volunteer-led youth initiative to write letters and create artwork for nursing home residents to combat loneliness during the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also volunteered as a tutor, camp counselor, and childcare provider.

In the face of challenges brought on by COVID-19, Kaitlyn organized and moderated Bloomington High School North’s first mental health forum and invited professional mental experts to facilitate dialogue and discussions on how students can support each other through the pandemic.

“I am deeply honored and grateful to represent my community as a Lilly Scholar,” said Wong. “Thank you to Lilly Endowment for this amazing opportunity! This would not be possible without the continuous support and encouragement from my wonderful family, teachers, coaches, and North administration. I am committed to living out the ideals embodied by the Lilly Endowment, and I look forward to serving our community!”

The Community Foundation has also announced Monroe County’s eight other 2022 Lilly Scholarship finalists will each receive $1,000 scholarships to use at a college or university of their choosing:

  • Lucy Clarke, Bloomington High School North
  • Ella Francis, Bloomington High School North
  • Jetta Norris, Edgewood High School
  • Sophia Ramlo, Bloomington High School South
  • Mathilde Robinson, Bloomington High School South
  • Faith Stimson, Bloomington High School North
  • Jacob Waugh, Edgewood High School
  • Katie Wilson, Edgewood High School

“Each year, we are amazed by the quality of applicants for the Monroe County’s Lilly Scholarship,” said Jessika Hane, chair of the Community Foundation’s Scholarship Committee. “While the selection process is never easy, this year’s finalists have faced challenges unlike any group of students before them. Despite the daily disruptions of the pandemic, they have found innovative ways to learn, lead, achieve, and give back to the community. We are inspired by the potential of all these graduating seniors and the phenomenal difference they will make in our communities.”

Monroe County’s Lilly Scholarship Application Process

Monroe County’s Lilly Scholarship recipients were selected from among applications submitted by students from five of the ten high schools that serve Monroe County. Eligible schools include The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship, Covenant Christian School, Bloomington Graduation School, Bloomington High School North, Bloomington High School South, Edgewood High School, Harmony School, Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics & Humanities, Lighthouse Christian Academy, and Seven Oaks Classical School.

Applications for the 2022 scholarship were reviewed without identifying information and independently scored by representatives from each high school to identify semifinalists. The number of semifinalists identified is reflective of each school’s senior class size. See complete list of semifinalists.

Each semifinalist was invited to submit a more comprehensive application, which included additional application questions and recommendations. The Community Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee then evaluated the completed semifinalist applications. This committee, made up of community members and a former Monroe County Lilly Scholar, reviewed without identifying information and scored applications from the semifinalists to select ten finalists. In selecting recipients for the Monroe County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, consideration is given to student activities and achievements, community and civic service, academic performance, and leadership potential.

The finalists then participated in virtual interviews with the Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee, and their interview scores were combined with scoring from their written applications. The finalists’ rankings, along with the committee’s recommendations for scholarship nominees, were submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. for final selection of scholarship recipients for Monroe County.

Lilly Endowment created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program for the 1998-1999 school year and has supported the program every year since with tuition grants totaling in excess of $439 million. Administered statewide by Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. with local support from Indiana community foundations, more than 5,000 Indiana high school students have been awarded the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship since the program’s inception.

The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.

Previous Lilly Endowment Scholarship Recipients from Monroe County:

2021
John Beggs (BHSS); declined – West Point Military Academy
Hannah Browning (Lighthouse Christian Academy) – Ball State University
Lucia Walker (BHSS) – Indiana University

2020
Nicholas Graef (Edgewood); declined – United States Air Force Academy
Sekou Noble-Kuchera (BHSN); declined – Georgia Tech
Joelle Jackson (BHSN); declined – Indiana University (Wells Scholar)
Ava Crees (BHSS); Purdue University
Erica Goldsworthy (BHSN); Indiana University

2019
Christian Gettelfinger (BHSN); Indiana University
Calvin Prenkert (BHSS); Butler University

2018
Aaron Nunes (BHSS); Purdue University
Greta Stephenson (BHSN); Indiana University

2017
Betsy Beggs (BHSS); DePauw University
Frances Kincaid (BHSN); Indiana University

2016
Greer King (BHSN); Indiana University
Brian Emmons (BHSN); Indiana University

2015
Sidrah Din (BHSS); Rose-Hulman
Riley Callahan (Lighthouse Christian Academy); Rose-Hulman

2014
Emma St. John (BHSN); Indiana University
Winston Winkler (BHSN); Indiana University

2013
Hannah Alani (BHSS); Indiana University
Shannon Jager (BHSN); DePauw University

2012
Evelyn Bauman (BHSS); Notre Dame
Alex St. John (BHSN); Indiana University

2011
Maha Elsarrag (BHSN); Indiana University
Lynne Bauman (BHSS); Notre Dame

2010
Bhavin Patel (BHSN); Indiana University
Stephen Zerfas (BHSN); Notre Dame

2009
Miranda Arthur (Edgewood); Butler
Audrey Ernst (Edgewood); University of Indianapolis

2008
Ashley Larason (BHSS); Purdue University
Thomas Weakley (Edgewood); DePauw / Indiana University

2007
Meehan Lenzen (BHSN); Notre Dame
Kristen Miller (BHSS); Indiana University

2006
David Kim (BHSN); Notre Dame
Jenna Beasley (BHSN); Indiana University

2005
Manisha Patel (BHSN); Indiana University
Jesse Pontius (BHSN); Purdue University

2004
Ryan Hodge (Indiana Academy); Rose-Hulman
Isaac (Ike) Dolby (BHSN); Purdue
Jennifer (Laird) Black (BHSS); Butler
Tara Langvardt (Edgewood); DePauw University
Caitlin (Odya) Homenda (Edgewood); Indiana University
Mark Strother (BHSN); Indiana University

2003
Amber (Knowlton) Todd (BHSS); Indiana University
David Courtney (BHSS); Earlham
Jennifer Richardson (BHSN); Indiana University
Robert (Matt) Hawkins (Edgewood); Rose-Hulman
Abram Hess (Indiana Academy); Indiana University
Anand Patel (BHSN); Indiana University

2002
Theodore (Tio) Savich (BHSN); Earlham
Aliese Sarkissian (BHSN); DePauw University
Virginia Chappell (BHSS); Indiana University
Michael Kruszynski (Indiana Academy); Rose-Hulman
James Moynihan (Edgewood); Butler
Andrea (Stalcup) Wallace (Edgewood); University of Evansville

2001
Lindsay Kile (Edgewood); Purdue
Ruthie (Willsey) Sterrett (BHSS); Purdue
Ann Marshall (BHSN); Indiana University
Elizabeth Sloan (BHSN); Indiana University
Reed Carmichael (BHSN); DePauw University
Talialin Fehrenbach (BHSS); Butler

2000
Andrew Krebbs (Edgewood); Indiana University
Michael Goodman (BHSN); Indiana University
Alison O’Malley (Edgewood); Butler
Morgan Volrich Riggs (BHSN); Indiana University

1999
Kathleen Tran (BHSS); Indiana University
Aaron Ray (Edgewood); Indiana University
Amanda Horvath (BHSS); Notre Dame
Nathan Fuller (BHSN); Rose-Hulman

1998
Amber (Martindale) Yount (BHSS); Butler
Rebecca (Strain) Spriggs (Edgewood); University of Evansville

For more information on the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program or other scholarships administered by CFBMC, visit https://www.cfbmc.org/lasting-impact/apply-for-a-scholarship/ or contact Marcus Whited, Program Director at 812-333-9016 or marcus@cfbmc.org.

About Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:
Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted more than $27 million since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $44 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.:
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff, and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

About Independent Colleges of Indiana:
Since 1997, Independent Colleges of Indiana has administered the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program statewide with funding provided by Lilly Endowment. Founded in 1948, ICI serves as the collective voice for the state’s 29 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates.

United Way and Community Foundation announce over $5 million in funding commitment from city and county for “Heading Home 2021” regional plan

United Way of Monroe County and the Community Foundation, along with officials from the City of Bloomington and the Monroe County Government, announced November 10 a formal partnership including more than $5 million in funding proposed to support the “Heading Home 2021: A Regional Plan for Making Homelessness Rare, Brief, and Non-Repeating.”

United Way of Monroe County and the Community Foundation, along with officials from the City of Bloomington and the Monroe County Government, announced November 10 a formal partnership including more than $5 million in funding proposed to support the “Heading Home 2021: A Regional Plan for Making Homelessness Rare, Brief, and Non-Repeating.”

The Heading Home Plan, developed by regional partners, including service providers, government officials, community members, funders, and people with lived experience, serves as a local guide to support long-term initiatives in reducing and eliminating regional housing insecurity and homelessness.

The funding announcement from the City of Bloomington and Monroe County Government will enable community partners to launch and sustain long-term solutions for the region. The City of Bloomington will provide $1.2 million in funding to support the Heading Home Plan as part of Mayor John Hamilton’s Recover Forward initiative, plus an additional $1.5 million in 2022. The Monroe County Government announced plans to contribute $1.2 million, plus an additional $1.2 million in endowment funding to sustain the work for the long-term.

Additionally, Bloomington Township has approved $15,000 for their next budget year.

The Heading Home 2021 Plan:

During the past year, a working group of stakeholders was convened by United Way and the Community Foundation, with support from the South Central Housing Network, City of Bloomington, Monroe County Government, and the townships of Perry and Bloomington. Building on the collaborative relief work during the pandemic, this group worked to update the community’s action plan, with committees diving deep into research and recommendations.

“One of the few silver linings of the pandemic was how it brought us together as a community. We came together to respond to the immediate and ongoing needs posed by COVID, working across sectors to assure that in our community, people’s basic needs of food, shelter, health and safety, child care, and more were being met despite unprecedented challenges,” Efrat Feferman, United Way of Monroe County Executive Director reflected. “And while we continue to address these emergency needs, the pandemic has also allowed us to direct federal and local funds towards assuring that fewer people live in that state of crisis, and move into or remain in stable, safe homes. This is a life-changing opportunity that can alter the long-term health of our community.”

Building upon the work of the 2014 Heading Home plan, the working group identified goals, strategies, and objectives to increase housing security by preventing homelessness in the first place, ensuring that if homelessness occurs it has a short tenure, and that it does not occur again.  

The Heading Home 2021 plan addresses the many contributing factors to housing insecurity which range from financial and legal issues to emotional, physical, and mental health related matters. It also speaks to system-level issues related to access to a variety of housing types. Additionally, it looks at process issues that can be improved upon to eliminate barriers to housing or to expedite access.

Most importantly, the housing plan is grounded in the concept of Housing First, an approach to quickly and successfully connecting families and individuals to permanent housing without preconditions and barriers. It’s a significant advancement to previous approaches that required individuals to demonstrate readiness for housing first. 

“The strategy that has been defined in the Heading Home plan is bold, different, and holistic. To ensure it is implemented with fidelity and becomes more than an admirable exercise in community collaboration, the community must invest resources into its implementation,” said Tina Peterson, Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County President and CEO. “Today, we are excited to announce a shared commitment from the public sector, private sector, and nonprofit sector, to not only acknowledge the need for a fully ideated long-term plan to increase housing security, but also the willingness of these partners to commit the resources necessary to ensure that we can activate and sustain that plan.”

To read the Heading Home 2021 plan visit www.monroeunitedway.org/housing

Current Landscape and Funding Commitments:

Monroe County is not unlike many communities across the country facing a housing crunch. There is a national affordable housing crisis that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic over the last 20 months. In Bloomington, 60% of renters and 30% of homeowners spend more than 30% of their income on housing, according to the 2020 Housing Study commissioned by the City of Bloomington.

“That is the definition of being “cost-burdened” by housing costs. It means there’s that much less left for other needs, let alone wants, savings, or money circulating in the economy. In other words, the impact ripples beyond the individual across the whole community,” shared City of Bloomington Deputy Mayor Donald Griffin, Jr.

Griffin continued, “Through our Recover Forward plan, the City is today dedicating $1.2 million to this transformative work led by United Way and the Community Foundation. The Recover Forward initiative aims to rebuild from the pandemic with a view toward greater environmental, racial, and economic justice. Additional recent investments in housing include down payment assistance, investing in the BHA’s new Summit Hill Development, and designating a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund. Together with all of the community forces gathered here, I believe we can work to make homelessness and housing insecurity rare, brief, and non-repeating.”

“We see people without homes throughout our community and they’re visible to us. But people struggle every day with shelter. They may occasionally reside in an overnight shelter, they may live in a vehicle, they may couch surf. This is an urban and rural issue. It involves individuals and families, it involves children and the elderly, and those facing physical and mental challenges. It is an issue that deserves a community response. And the solutions must be reflective of dignity and respect,” commented Julie Thomas, Monroe County Commissioner President.

Thomas continued, “Because this is not an isolated issue, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners and the Monroe County Council have pledged American Rescue Plan Act dollars totaling $1.2 million to support the initiation, planning, and implantation of the Heading Home 2021 plan. And we have committed $1.2 million in additional dollars to fund an endowment to start the seed growing to ensure the long-term sustainability of this fund.”

“This is a great example of City and County leaders joining together to put real solutions into place to solve difficult challenges within our community,” shared Eric Spoonmore, Monroe County Council President. “The Heading Home initiative proves once again how Monroe County residents step up to address real human concerns for the greater good and lift up our community. The reason this initiative has been so successful is the collaborative way in which United Way and the Community Foundation engaged with so many service providers and agencies and invited all voices to the table.”

Next Steps:

The immediate next steps supported by this funding include:

  1. Hire a small team of professionals dedicated to executing the long-term regional strategies in the Heading Home Plan.
  2. Build an active cross-sector coalition to develop and coordinate strategies.
  3. Create a coordinated, live data set for monitoring progress on homelessness and housing insecurity, including a dashboard accessible to the public.
  4. Partner with local agencies to expand rapid rehousing beyond Monroe County, forging new relationships in surrounding counties.
  5. Work with landlords and service providers throughout south-central Indiana to house people, providing the needed support. Additionally provide incentives to house the most vulnerable community members through a risk mitigation fund.
  6. Encourage the development of a range of housing options.

Get Involved:

Making homelessness and housing insecurity rare, brief, and non-repeating requires the whole community coming together. For those interested in connecting with this work, an interest form is available at monroeunitedway.org/housing. Whether someone is interested in volunteering for a committee, being an advocate for housing, or working with local nonprofits to lease vacant rentals to fellow community members trying to get back on their feet, those interested are encouraged to fill out the interest form.

To read the Heading Home 2021 plan visit www.monroeunitedway.org/housing

About Monroe County of United Way: United Way of Monroe County’s is a nonprofit organization that improves the lives and futures of all people in the community. We bring together expertise, funding and volunteer support to positively impact the resilience of our community, and those who live within it. In partnership with others, we work to eliminate inequities experienced by low-income and diverse populations so that all people have a safe, healthy home environment, achieve their educational potential, and increase their financial stability. We commit to building bridges across cultural, racial, religious, and economic boundaries. More info www.monroeunitedway.org.

About the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County: Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted more than $27 million since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $44 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources. Learn more at www.cfbmc.org.

Connecting The Pieces for Housing Security in Monroe County

By Mary Anne Sterling, Special Contributor and Community Foundation Stewardship Committee Member

Monroe County is no stranger to housing challenges, especially in Bloomington, where the average rent is among the highest in the state. Even before COVID-19, many families struggled to pay rent and were vulnerable to eviction.  Behind the scenes, the Community Justice & Mediation Center has leveraged the talents and dedication of its volunteer mediators to help both tenants and landlords resolve conflicts. We recently checked in with Executive Director Liz Grenat to learn how a Community Foundation grant enabled CJAM to expand its reach to serve more in need.  

Since 1995, CJAM has served as a bridge between individuals and the court system. In 2005, the Center expanded its grassroots efforts to offer community mediation to resolve conflicts and disputes between individuals. Liz explained that mediation services are provided by a network of trained, impartial community volunteers. 

“They work tirelessly to help parties negotiate agreements, including tenancy, payment plans, and other issues.” 

In 2020, the Community Foundation awarded CJAM a $21,000 grant to fund a project coordinator and web-based database to support its collaboration in Monroe Countyís Housing and Eviction Prevention Project (HEPP). This program reduces eviction, preserves housing, provides comprehensive access to social services, facilitates tenant and landlord education, and improves overall housing security for renters in Monroe County.   

“Itís important for donors to know just how valuable the Community Foundation’s assistance has been in supporting our efforts,” Liz said. “Beyond the financial support, they have been flexible mentors and proactive partners during this most challenging time. Their support enabled us to build a digital case-tracking system, implement a new virtual court process, and leverage additional funding to enhance our services.”

“Our goal is to emphasize mediation, working with both parties to resolve and prevent elaborate legal proceedings. About 70% of the landlords have legal representation, but only about 5% of the tenants ever have legal representation, so our services can benefit both parties to a dispute,” she added.

“Some individuals are struggling and worry that they may be evicted,” Liz explained. “Legal eviction results in a court record, which can prevent individuals and families from relocating to decent housing in a safe neighborhood because many landlords screen for previous evictions.” Oftentimes eviction is the last resort. Mediating with CJAM enables these parties to resolve their disputes without a court hearing. 

This program is just one aspect of the Community Foundationís strategy to address housing security in Monroe County. Because of your generous support and trust in the Foundation, innovative and impactful efforts are possible. Thank you for caring so deeply about our community and all those who call it home!

Want to get more involved? CJAM is in need of both volunteer mediators and pro bono attorneys. If you are interested in helping advance this organization’s important mission, contact the Center by email at admin@cjamcenter.org or phone at (812) 336-8677.

Ten high school seniors selected as finalists for Monroe County’s Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships

Join us in congratulating these phenomenal Monroe County students.

Ten high school seniors have been selected as finalists for the 2022 Monroe County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program. We hope you will join us in congratulating these phenomenal students:

  • Lucy Clarke, Bloomington High School North
  • Ella Francis, Bloomington High School North
  • Jetta Norris, Edgewood High School
  • Sophia Ramlo, Bloomington High School South
  • Mathilde Robinson, Bloomington High School South
  • Faith Stimson, Bloomington High School North
  • Eva Stuart, Bloomington High School South
  • Jacob Waugh, Edgewood High School
  • Katie Wilson, Edgewood High School
  • Kaitlyn Wong, Bloomington High School North

Among their many accomplishments, this year’s Monroe County Lilly Scholarship finalists have been involved in 40 school organizations, displayed their talents in art, dance, music, theater, writing, speech, and debate, and excelled as athletes in baseball, figure skating, lacrosse, soccer, track, tennis, and volleyball.

Within this exceptional group are motivated young people who have studied abroad, launched their own businesses, established community organizations, and pursued internships in their future career paths. These student leaders have also demonstrated compassion and integrity as camp counselors, mentors, tutors, lifeguards, referees,  childcare providers, and friends.

As engaged members of the community, they have also volunteered for 25 local organizations, including Area 10 Agency on Aging, Boys and Girls Clubs of Bloomington, City of Bloomington, Community Kitchen, Habitat for Humanity, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Pantry 279, Women Writing for (a) Change, Wheeler Mission, WonderLab, and many others. 

“We are proud to recognize this extraordinary group of young people doing amazing and innovative things in our community,” said Tina Peterson, Community Foundation’s president and CEO. “In a year that has been challenging for schools and teens, these students have forged new paths to continue growing, learning, and achieving. They represent the next generation of innovators, and we can’t wait to see what they will accomplish in the future.”

“While we always regret that only two of these amazing finalists will ultimately receive the Lilly Scholarship, each one inspires great confidence in this generation of young people,” added Peterson. “It would be our hope that many of our finalists will stay in Indiana for their postsecondary experiences and begin their careers in the Indiana Uplands region.”

Lilly Endowment Community Scholars are awarded four-year, full-tuition scholarships to pursue baccalaureate degrees at colleges or universities in Indiana. The scholarship also includes up to $900 annually for required textbooks and equipment. In Monroe County, two students are awarded Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships each year.

Monroe County’s Lilly Scholarship Application Process

Monroe County’s finalists were selected from among 22 semifinalists and 93 applications submitted by students from five of the ten high schools that serve Monroe County. Eligible schools include The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship, Covenant Christian School, Bloomington Graduation School, Bloomington High School North, Bloomington High School South, Edgewood High School, Harmony School, Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics & Humanities, Lighthouse Christian Academy, and Seven Oaks Classical School.

Applications for the 2022 scholarship were blindly reviewed and independently scored by representatives from each high school to identify semifinalists. The number of semifinalists identified is reflective of each school’s senior class size. See complete list of semifinalists.

Each semifinalist was invited to submit a more comprehensive application, which included additional application questions and recommendations. The Community Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee then evaluated the completed semifinalist applications. This committee, made up of community members and a former Monroe County Lilly Scholar, blindly reviewed and scored applications from the semifinalists to select ten finalists. In selecting recipients for the Monroe County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, consideration is given to student activities and achievements, community and civic service, academic performance, and leadership potential.

The finalists will interview with the selection committee during the week of October 18, and their interview scores will be combined with scoring from the written application. The finalists’ rankings, along with the committee’s recommendations for scholarship nominees, will be submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. for final selection of scholarship recipients for Monroe County. The two 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars for Monroe County will be named in December 2021.

Since the Lilly Endowment Scholarship Program’s inception in 1998, over $424 million in scholarship tuition has been provided to students across the state. Administered statewide by Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. with local support from Indiana community foundations, 4,912 Indiana high school students have been awarded the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship.

The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.

For more information on the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program or other scholarships administered by CFBMC, visit https://www.cfbmc.org/lasting-impact/apply-for-a-scholarship/ or contact Marcus Whited, Program Director at 812-333-9016 or marcus@cfbmc.org.

About Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:

Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted more than $27 million since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $44 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources.

Twenty-two high school seniors selected as semifinalists for Monroe County’s Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships

The Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County (CFBMC) has announced that 22 high school seniors have been selected as semifinalists for the 2022 Monroe County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program. Congratulations to these exceptional students:

  • Paolo Ansaldo, Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship
  • Roudra Chatterjea, Bloomington High School North
  • Lucy Clarke, Bloomington High School North
  • Ella Francis, Bloomington High School North
  • Elijah Gill, Edgewood High School
  • Alexandra Gryszowka, Bloomington High School South
  • Layaan Hajiyev, Bloomington High School South
  • Ian Hamstra, Lighthouse Christian Academy
  • Alexandra King, Bloomington High School North
  • Chantelle Miller, Bloomington High School South
  • Jetta Norris, Edgewood High School
  • Sophia Ramlo, Bloomington High School South
  • Mathilde Robinson, Bloomington High School South
  • Isabel Schneider, Bloomington High School North
  • Faith Stimson, Bloomington High School North
  • Eva Stuart, Bloomington High School South
  • Anh Tran, Bloomington High School North
  • Isabella Vesperini, Bloomington High School South
  • Jacob Waugh, Edgewood High School
  • Zander West, Bloomington High School South
  • Katie Wilson, Edgewood High School
  • Kaitlyn Wong, Bloomington High School North

Lilly Endowment Community Scholars are awarded four-year, full-tuition scholarships to pursue baccalaureate degrees at colleges or universities in Indiana. The scholarship also includes up to $900 annually for required textbooks and equipment. In Monroe County, two students are awarded Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships each year.

Monroe County’s semifinalists were selected from among 93 applications submitted by students from five of the ten high schools that serve Monroe County. Eligible schools include The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship, Covenant Christian School, Bloomington Graduation School, Bloomington High School North, Bloomington High School South, Edgewood High School, Harmony School, Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics & Humanities, Lighthouse Christian Academy, and Seven Oaks Classical School.

Applications for the 2022 scholarship were blindly reviewed and independently scored by representatives from each high school to identify semifinalists. The number of semifinalists identified is reflective of each school’s senior class size.

Each semifinalist has been invited to submit an updated application, which includes additional application questions and recommendations. Applications for the finalist round are due September 23. The Community Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee will then evaluate the completed semifinalist applications. This committee, made up of community members and former Monroe County Lilly Scholars, blindly reviews and scores applications from the semifinalists to select ten finalists. In selecting recipients for the Monroe County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, consideration is given to student activities and achievements, community and civic service, academic performance, and leadership potential.

Finalists will be identified and interviewed in October, and finalist interview scores will be combined with scoring from the written application. The finalists’ rankings, along with the committee’s recommendations for scholarship nominees, will be submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. for final selection of scholarship recipients for Monroe County. The two 2022 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars for Monroe County will be named in December 2021.

“This year’s semifinalists are an exceptional group of students and young leaders with a diversity of experiences, backgrounds, and aspirations,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Tina Peterson. “We look forward to getting to know them better and cannot understate what it means to our community, our region, and our state that these talented young people are interested in pursuing their post-secondary education at one of Indiana’s world-class colleges and universities.”

Since the Lilly Endowment Scholarship Program’s inception in 1998, over $424 million in scholarship tuition has been provided. Administered statewide by Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. with local support from Indiana community foundations, 4,912 Indiana high school students have been awarded the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship.

The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.

For more information on the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program or other scholarships administered by CFBMC, visit https://cfbmc.org/lasting-impact/apply-for-a-scholarship/ or contact Marcus Whited, Program Director at 812-333-9016 or marcus@cfbmc.org.

About Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County:

Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted more than $27 million since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $44 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources.

Community Foundation opens “Creating Community” grant funding opportunity

Fostering Our Community’s Vibrancy, Quality of Place, & Livability

Grant applications due Oct 25, 2021!

CFBMC, with the support of funding generously provided by the Smithville Charitable Foundation, is pleased to announce the “Creating Community” grant initiative and invites local organizations to submit proposals. These grants are intended to foster our community’s vibrancy, quality of place, and livability through supporting and enhancing the amenities that make Monroe County an attractive place to call home. Examples of eligible proposal areas include but are not limited to: the arts, public recreation, community spaces, beautification, animal welfare, environmental preservation and enhancement, and opportunities that seek to create a more welcoming, inclusive Monroe County. Learn more »

“Heading Home 2021” Plan Released by United Way of Monroe County, Community Foundation, and South Central Housing Network

United Way of Monroe County, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, and the South Central Housing Network (SCHN) are pleased to announce the release of “Heading Home 2021: A Regional Plan for Making Homelessness Rare, Brief, and Non-Repeating.” This plan will serve as a community guide to support long-term initiatives in reducing and eliminating regional housing insecurity and homelessness in Monroe County.

In early 2021, United Way and the Community Foundation began meeting with a small group of community organizations to understand the underlying challenges that have prevented Monroe County from fully achieving goals outlined in the 2014 Heading Home Plan. An analysis of that plan indicated that while many organizations and entities have been deliberately and tirelessly working to advance housing security, there had not been a county-wide mechanism to coordinate and make the best use of the many assets throughout our region to ultimately achieve the full complement of results intended in the 2014 plan.

In response, a Housing Insecurity Working Group was convened in February to revisit the 2014 plan, assess the community’s current issues surrounding housing insecurity, and create an updated plan for 2021 and beyond. Comprised of more than 60 members, representing nearly 30 local and regional organizations, the Working Group looked at systemic root causes while ensuring that the voices of those with lived experience are lifted, heard, and valued.

“Housing insecurity and homelessness impact all too many of our community members. We have many wonderful service providers, each filled with caring people who do this work day in and day out. We are grateful for the opportunity to bring them together, alongside elected officials, philanthropic partners, and other key stakeholders, to work jointly on the systemic level,” said United Way Executive Director Efrat Feferman.

Regional partners, including service providers, government officials, community members, and funders, were instrumental to this process. Financial support from Bloomington Township, City of Bloomington, Monroe County Government, and Perry Township has supported the planning and coordination of the effort to date.

In the past few months, three Working Group sub-committees researched service delivery gaps and promising solutions. The Data and Dashboard committee reviewed existing information to identify what data providers currently track and what is most significant to measuring progress. The Map and Gap committee reviewed services associated with proximal causes of housing insecurity and identified gaps in these services. Finally, the Promising Practices committee identified holistic best practices for housing security in place in other communities. See a list of Working Group sub-committee participants here.

Initial recommendations included improving data collection and sharing, filling gaps in services, and implementing best practices were incorporated into the plan. In addition, the sub-committees recommended that the updated plan focus on implementing regional solutions to reducing homelessness, increasing affordable housing, increasing access to skilled case managers, and providing effective and expeditious strategies for addressing acute housing issues.

All of the recommendations were distilled into a new Heading Home plan that centers around a collective impact response following the Housing First model. Housing First, at its core, is the broad philosophy to house people impacted by homelessness as quickly as possible. Having stable housing creates a foundation that better equips households to address the underlying issues that resulted in housing insecurity and/or homelessness.

As Emily Pike, Executive Director of New Hope for Families and chair of the South Central Housing Network explains, “There just aren’t any causes of homelessness that are naturally or easily resolved during a period of homelessness. The Housing First model tells us to put first things first and get individuals and families into stable housing, so they can work on the next thing. It’s a philosophy many of our highly-skilled local service providers have been working to integrate for several years, and we are excited to welcome more community members into this vital work.”

The Heading Home 2021 Plan also recommends the creation of an entity to guide implementation strategies and ensure a coordinated countywide response. This entity will provide leadership, accountability, and ensure that broad stakeholder engagement is sustained through a Housing Insecurity Coalition.

United Way of Monroe County, the Community Foundation, SCHN, and the Working Group will continue to move forward to create a sustainable infrastructure to support this work. This process includes seeking support for the long-term implementation of this plan and strategy.

“The completion of the Heading Home 2021 plan is an important step for Monroe County and our region,” said Community Foundation President and CEO Tina Peterson. “Through a cross-sector approach, we have co-designed a uniquely relevant plan that offers a roadmap for moving forward in creating greater housing security for individuals and families. It’s a goal shared by many, one that must become reality for this community to thrive.”

To read the plan, click here.

To learn more about the Housing Insecurity Working Group, click here.

About United Way of Monroe County: United Way of Monroe County is a nonprofit organization that improves people’s lives by addressing critical needs today and working to reduce those needs tomorrow. Through its Community Action Fund and grant initiatives, United Way works with 24 member agencies and community partners to ensure families have opportunities and everyone can meet basic living needs. Learn more: https://www.monroeunitedway.org

About the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County: Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted $27 million to local nonprofit organizations since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $41.1 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources.

Community Foundation receives $100,000 Stronger Together grant to develop new supports for local child care providers

The Community Foundation of Bloomington of Monroe County has been awarded $100,000 from Early Learning Indiana to create a regional shared service hub that will help regional child care providers balance operational demands with providing affordable, quality care.

“We are honored to receive a Stronger Together grant from Early Learning Indiana and Lilly Endowment to continue improving child care services in Monroe County with a goal of expanding hub membership to early childhood programs in the Indiana Uplands region,” said Jennifer Myers, Monroe Smart Start Director.

“Ultimately, our hope is that this model, once tested and refined in Monroe County, will be expanded across the Indiana Uplands,” added Myers. “Every community in our region would benefit from the tools and resources to streamline operations, reduce operating costs, support the professional development of staff, and offer services that are often beyond the capacity of independent early care programs. Through the creation of this regional pool of shared services, child care providers will be able to streamline their operations, save money, and focus more of their time on providing quality early care and education to children.”

The Community Foundation of Bloomington of Monroe County is one of seven grant recipients from across Indiana. With the grant funds, the Community Foundation, through its Monroe Smart Start leadership program, will create shared services to develop business leadership that helps to ensure full enrollment and assists with tuition collection, reporting, marketing, accounting support, and a substitute pool. The shared services hub will pilot in Monroe County and eventually extend support to child care programs in the Indiana Uplands region.

“Early care and education providers operate with razor-thin margins as they juggle the actual cost of providing care and the ability of families to afford it,” said Maureen Weber, president and CEO of Early Learning Indiana. “The organizations we’ve awarded Stronger Together grants will directly impact the sustainability of local providers, influence the affordability of care for families and enable providers to focus their scarce time and resources on the business of learning.”

In addition to awarding grant funding, Early Learning Indiana has partnered with Opportunities Exchange (OppEx) to offer technical assistance to all grantees. OppEX is a national nonprofit consulting group working to transform the business of early care and education to improve child outcomes and ensure practitioners are well-compensated and work in supportive environments.

Learn more about the Stronger Together grant at https://earlylearningin.org/stronger-together/.

About the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County: Created by individuals, families, and businesses who share a passion for Monroe County and a vision for its future, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County has granted $27 million to local nonprofit organizations since its incorporation in 1990. With a growing $41.1 million endowment, the Foundation makes a difference by connecting caring people, important causes, and community resources. Learn more at www.cfbmc.org.

About Monroe Smart Start:  A leadership initiative of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, Monroe Smart Start works on behalf of our community’s youngest learners, helping to ensure children are ready for school and ready for life. Since 2009, the Community Foundation has invested $2 million to support high-quality early learning in Monroe County through advocacy, training, education, parental engagement, and child-centered Monroe Smart Start initiatives. Learn more at www.monroesmartstart.org.

About Early Learning Indiana: Early Learning Indiana is Indiana’s oldest and largest early childhood education nonprofit, providing leadership, advocacy, and early childhood education services to continually improve the early learning landscape in Indiana. Today, Early Learning Indiana operates eight high-quality Day Early Learning centers, a network of premier community-based lab schools used to advance the science of early learning, train the next generation of teachers and leaders, and instill essential skills in the children we serve. Through regional and statewide programs, the organization enables early learning providers to build capacity, transform operations and improve learning outcomes. Learn more at EarlyLearningIndiana.org.