Celebrating Neighborhood-Led Partnerships

The 14th annual Collaborative Spirit Award celebrates unique, sustainable projects that demonstrate strong neighbor collaboration, leadership and community partnerships that enhance the quality of life in our community. Awarded projects will be neighbor- and neighborhood-initiated and driven, embracing the spirit of cooperation and grassroots leadership. Click here for additional information about the award, criteria and selection process.

A cash award was presented to the awardee. INRC will nominate the 2019 Collaborative Spirit Awardee for national consideration at the May, 2020 Neighborhoods, USA (NUSA) conference.

2018 Collaborative Spirit Award Winners

Laurelwood Apartments and the Intercollegiate YMCA
For 11 years, the Intercollegiate YMCA has partnered with the Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA), Laurelwood Apartments and UIndy, providing high-quality, developmentally-appropriate and values-based programming to nearly half of the 500 youth (ages 6-17) who live in the Laurelwood neighborhood. Ms. Sandra Bailey, Laurelwood Resident Council President, worked with the YMCA to develop and offer programming; as a result, the Intercollegiate YMCA partnered with IHA and Laurelwood leadership to provide a free after-school and summer camp program to the youth at Laurelwood. The Intercollegiate YMCA also engages students from nearby University of Indianapolis. Although operating since 2009, the partnership has received several awards and investment in the past twelve months that will support the program, including the renewal of a federal grant to support service position, and an AmeriCorps grant award that will allow for more mentors and tutors. Additionally, the past year saw some of the highest educational improvements to date for this program with 80% of students increasing their Math and/or English/Language Arts grades throughout the year. In addition to helping youth increase their grades and academic achievement, college students have engaged with youth, public safety has improved, and families have become more engaged in their community.

2018 Collaborative Spirit Award Finalists

Bethany Community Garden
Located on Indy's Southside at Bethany Lutheran Church, Bethany Community Garden was launched in January 2018. Bethany Community Garden was born from the work of the Health and Wellness Team of the South Indy Quality of Life Plan, which identified concerns about food insecurity in the area. Bethany Garden partnered with Purdue Extension, who offered a four-series gardening class attended by over 100 individuals and awarded Bethany a $2,500 Growing Together grant. Bethany partnered with two nearby food pantries to provide garden produce, to engage pantry clients in the gardening classes, community meals, and as volunteers. Seeing an opportunity to build upon the neighbor engagement, Bethany worked with INRC to host neighborhood meetings. Bethany Community Garden hosts a gardening night once a week, routinely attended by 18 to 24 active volunteers. On the third Tuesday of each month, a community meal is offered before the gardening session. Planting began in early May 2018; by the end of July, 388 pounds of produce has been harvested, with about 330 pounds going to the two area food pantries.

The City League
The City League is a community basketball event that uses the energy high-level basketball generates to create a platform for local initiatives, businesses, and organizations to interact with the community on the Near Northside of Indianapolis. The aim is to connect neighbors and empower community in the Mid North and Northeast (NE) Corridor.

In 2017, representatives from the Crosstown Neighborhood Association, Little Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, King Park Development Corporation and Mapleton Fall Creek Development Corporation came together to host a community basketball tournament that would also help accomplish some of the outreach and engagement goals of the Mid-North and NE Quality of Life plans. Sponsorships from area businesses and local non-profits were secured, while a some of the best basketball players in the City, including the IMPD and IFD entered teams. Year two, 2018, saw an increase in participation with twenty-four local organizations supporting the event financially, and an additional thirteen institutions used the event to connect with people in the community. This year close to 100 people helped bring The City League 2018 to a close by attending the closing event, Championship Night. The City League has built a strong and connected community, and has facilitated relationships among local leadership on the Near Northside.  Twelve people representing different neighborhood associations and organizations have served on The City League leadership team and over 40 local organizations have participated in some capacity.  The six-week event is a true collaboration of people who want to see a community of people connected and thriving where they live.


2017 Collaborative Spirit Award and NUSA Multi-Neighborhood Partnership Winner

The Pogue’s Run Art and Nature Park Revitalization Task Force was formed after neighbors voted support for the project in the summer of 2016 at a near eastside Quality of Life Plan summit. Working with several partners, including Indy Parks, the Department of Public Works, Otterbein Neighborhood Association and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, neighbors cleared the trail, planted over 100 trees and erected signage. Paramount School of Excellence engaged 8th grade students to develop youth art installations, and The Weekly View developed a welcome/history panel of the park. A new grant from Reconnecting Our Waterways will enable the repair and replacement of park benches. The Task Force has also developed plans to maintain trails and trees, and formed the Park Watch Program in partnership with the IMPD Rangers to ensuring that the property and amenities remain safe and maintained for people to visit and enjoy.

Previous Award Winners

To see a listing of previous Collaborative Spirit Awardees, including seven NUSA awardees in 2007, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, please click here.