Thrive by IU Health

August 30, 2023

Putting the pieces together to fight poverty

Putting the pieces together to fight poverty

For two decades, Mike and Sue Smith have committed themselves to addressing poverty in Indianapolis. “It is high time that everyone in our community becomes more aware of the devastating grasp that poverty and mental illnesses have on so many in our city,” Mike said. “I grieve every time I drive up Illinois Street and see people in obvious need of care waiting outside facilities for mental health services.”

Mike and Sue Smith, IU Health Foundation supporters

To help mitigate those challenges, Mike and Sue made a generous gift to IU Health Foundation in support of the Mosaic Center for Work, Life and Learning.

A mosaic of services

Slated to open in 2023 in Indianapolis’ Near North Neighborhood, the new center will offer a “mosaic” of individualized and intensive services to help people chart pathways to meaningful careers at IU Health and beyond.

IU Health team members and partners will deliver career, financial and personal coaching, and will refer participants to resources for help with food access, transportation, substance use disorder and mental health treatment.

Recently, the Smiths connected with Mosaic Center Director Starla Hart. Hart has spent 20 years working in community engagement and development in Indianapolis.

Starla Hart, director, Mosaic Center for Work, Life and Learning

“There’s a high need for talent. If we ‘the community’ can meet people who’ve been glossed over where they are, and foster their development, we can only go up,” Hart told the Smiths. “We’re only as strong as our weakest link, and we’re providing opportunities for people to get stronger.”

The Mosaic Center—in partnership with multiple community organizations and an $8 million grant from The Lilly Endowment—will support under- and unemployed individuals, entry-level IU Health employees, independent former foster care youth ages 18-26 and Crispus Attucks High School students in the IU Health Fellowship program, which guarantees fellows job offers from IU Health upon graduation.

“Quite frankly, this work doesn’t happen without philanthropy, including gifts like the Smiths’,” Hart said.

A beacon of hope

“If we can create a place where comprehensive services are available, we can build a beacon of hope for people who are anxious or in fear about their future,” Mike said to Hart. “If we prepare people from local neighborhoods for meaningful employment, we change the face of the city and the countenance of those lives. We replace fear and anxiety with hope and excitement.”