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If you’ve seen The Wire or Homicide: Life on the Streets, you might think you know what it’s like to grow up in some of Baltimore’s poorest housing projects. Local business owner and philanthropist John Thompson knows too… because he lived it. Thompson was raised in the Lexington Terrace and Perkins projects, where his family struggled to rise above pervasive poverty and racial injustice.
Now, Thompson, a Cornell and Columbia-educated chemical engineer, is the owner of four Indianapolis-area businesses. He has sat on the boards of countless local, regional and statewide organizations, including Riley Children’s Foundation, and is committed to driving real change in his community.
When he heard that IU Health was tackling issues near and dear to his heart with the creation of the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund, he was inspired to give and is ecstatic his gift will support solutions to improve Indiana’s horrific infant mortality rates through Cradle Indianapolis: a coalition dedicated to lowering the infant mortality rate in the Hoosier state, especially among African Americans.
“Getting more infants to their first birthday and beyond is the goal of many organizations and our governor. This effort with Cradle Indianapolis and other programs should accelerate progress in a meaningful way," Thompson said.
Now, he’s hoping his gift will inspire others to join him and donate to the fund.
Thompson will give in the form of an annual gift of $5,000 over the course of five years, for a total of $25,000.
As Thompson says, “philanthropy is a multiplier.” Having once been a recipient of this kind of generosity, Thompson knows that giving has a ripple effect and is hopeful local community members, and in particular, the African American community, will join him to support IU Health Foundation as they work to make a real change.
Thompson says that after the racial and social unrest of the last year, the nation is beginning to open its eyes to the injustice and inequality that still exists for Blacks and other minority groups. And that, he says, is the first step toward making needed change.
“There is momentum for change. There is a model being put in place for change. We’ve all been looking for change. Let’s invest in change.”
In addition to Cradle Indianapolis, he hopes to see the fund support new initiatives that will address social determinants of health and provide training to team members to break down problematic cultural barriers.
To join Mr. Thompson in giving to the Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund, visit the IU Health Foundation giving page and choose “IU Health Statewide.” Under “Donation Amount,” choose “Statewide Racial Equity in Healthcare Fund.”