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Meridian Foundation Arago Honors Awards $80,000 to Eight Central Indiana Nonprofits

Organizations selected due to their innovative approaches in the nonprofit sector

From: Meridian Foundation

Ind. (December 20)—Announced today, Indianapolis-based, Meridian Foundation has awarded eight nonprofits with awards of $10,000 each to support their innovative approaches to serving the community. Recipients include the Society of St. Andrew, The Milk Bank, CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions, Early Learning Indiana, Spirit and Place, PATTERN, Launch HOPE Foundation, and GANGGANG.

“Through the last year, we’ve seen how nonprofits have worked creatively to solve complex and constant community challenges,” said Donna Oklak, founder of Meridian Foundation. “The Arago Honors seeks to lift up the inspiring stories of these exemplary nonprofits to amplify their missions and the social impact of their work in central Indiana and the nation.”

The Meridian Foundation announced the Arago Honors in July to put a spotlight on nonprofit program innovation. In this inaugural year, Oklak is pleased to share the broad assortment of missions—food insecurity, health, aging assistance, early learning education, workforce development, new business acceleration, arts entrepreneurship, and racial equity—from this group of nonprofits and encourage the next round of innovative nonprofits to apply in 2022.

“The added benefit from this inaugural innovation group has been seeing first-hand the dual purposes in the projects and how these nonprofits are working on multiple fronts to enact community change,” said Oklak. “I am so encouraged and impressed at the work being done in our city and the many new collaborations and partnerships that have been formed.”

2021 Arago Honor recipients include:

  • Society of St. Andrew for the creation of a new gleaning affiliate in Indiana to lower food insecurity within the state and save over 4.1 million pounds of healthy food.
  • The Milk Bank for building a new partnership with Versiti (formerly Indiana Blood Center). Although the two nonprofit organizations have remarkably similar missions and are well-aligned, they did not collaborate. Since creating the partnership in 2018 nearly 500 mothers have utilized the Versiti depot locations in Indiana and Kentucky Blood Centers.
  • CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions for creating a Venture Studio to build scalable revenue-generating enterprises for this 47-year-old nonprofit serving the aging population in central Indiana. CICOA employees bringing new ideas to the Venture Studio are incentivized and compensated when products reach the market.
  • Early Learning Indiana for Classroom Support-Work Program (CSP) provides a blended online and in-person classroom learning format for classroom support professionals. The program allows ELI employees to earn a salary while completing their credentials and become classroom-ready more quickly and less expensively than traditional programs.
  • PATTERN for a nonprofit Fellowship program building career portfolios for young interns in fashion design, photography, graphic design, digital and social media, and art and music. PATTERN’s goal is to keep Indiana talent in Indiana and grow the creative economy in an equitable and inclusive way.
  • Launch HOPE Foundation for giving underserved women a second chance by teaching them to become entrepreneurs with vetted business plans by Butler University’s Lacy School of Business undergraduate students. The new program currently operates at Phalen Leadership Academy and Hamilton County jail with plans for more sites in 2022.
  • Spirit and Place at IUPUI’s School of Liberal Arts for Powerful Conversations on Race (PCR), a civic reflection dialogue facilitation method utilizing artwork, texts, and other media for public reflection and dialogue on this difficult topic. Spirit and Place has a 24- year history of exploring community issues and is building an income-generating social entrepreneurship strategy around PCR.
  • GANGGANG for BUTTER: A Fine Art Fair held in September In Indianapolis, promoting equity in the arts and creative community by this start-up nonprofit. The focus on Black artists is unlike other art fairs because BUTTER artists pay no fee to participate and 100% of the profit from works sold goes to the artists.

Explore the Meridian Foundation and learn more about the Arago Honors at www.indymeridianfoundation.org.

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About the Meridian Foundation
The Meridian Foundation exists to support and celebrate innovation. The Arago Honors is a new initiative to honor innovative nonprofits by accelerating positive change in the community. For more on the Meridian Foundation, please visit www.indymeridianfoundation.org.

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