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More famous than sugar cream pie is Indiana’s well-known mantra of “Hoosier Hospitality”— the notion that folks from Indiana are downright friendly to everyone they meet. And while many have eaten a slice of this hospitable dish, some may not realize that its secret ingredient is philanthropy.
Hoosiers are generous. In fact, every single Indiana county—92 to be exact—has its own county community foundation—more than any other state in the nation.
And they all have the same mission: to improve the lives of Hoosiers in their local communities. Sound familiar? It should—it’s also a mission of Indiana University Health.
That’s why in 2020, IU Health launched the Community Impact Investment (CII) Fund to partner with local organizations, including county community foundations, to address social issues affecting health outcomes across the state. The CII Fund, which is managed by IU Health Foundation, supports initiatives that propose solutions to these challenges through place-based, workforce development and education attainment projects.
These are areas that also interest the Hendricks County Community Foundation (HCCF), to name just one example.
“Workforce development is such a formal word, but it is something that affects all of us,” said Eric Hessel, HCCF vice president, Programs. “Supporting advancements in it simply means helping people see their path forward and improving their quality of life.”
Two years ago, HCCF was granted $155,000 from IU Health’s CII Fund to put towards developing and expanding workforce and education attainment programs in Hendricks County. HCCF allotted those dollars to the Hendricks College Network (HCN)—a local nonprofit that connects Hendricks County residents with resources for post-secondary education, business training and workforce opportunities.
“Don’t let our name fool you,” said Brandy Wethington Perrill, HCN Executive Director. “We aren’t just for high school students. We help people of all ages—from recent graduates to those looking to change careers in their 40s, to retired individuals wanting to acquire a new skill. We are a connector in the community for everyone.”
CII funding helps HCN offer services including access to college and career fairs, career counseling, employer training and financial aid assistance, free of cost.
CII's support also gives HCN the opportunity to offer local students college scholarships, especially minority students.
According to Wethington Perrill, only 17% of Hendricks County residents are minorities, but she sees HCN as a key developer in building a pipeline towards creating a more diversified workforce in the area.
And thanks to CII, that pipeline is growing. During HCN’s most recent round of CII funding, 59% of its tuition assistance applicants were minorities, and 58% of recipients were minorities.
“This gift has allowed us to find more ways to recognize the diversity in our community and more importantly, support them,” said Wethington Perrill.
Scholarships are also allotted for students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, something Wethington Perrill said brings IU Health’s gift full circle.
“We now have a hand in training the IU Health doctors and nurses of tomorrow,” Wethington Perrill said. “And while that is big in and of itself, this gift from CII is even bigger—because it shows IU Health’s commitment to caring for Hoosiers outside the wall of their hospitals and its dedication to the communities it serves, including those right here in Hendricks County.”
If you’d like to support professional development and education advancement programs in your community, contact IU Health Foundation Campaigns Director Michelle Leonard McConnell at 317.688.5671.