One month of programming later, and the final Indyfluence event has completed. The goal of Indyfluence 2020 as a whole was for interns to MEET Indy, LEARN from Indy, and GIVE BACK to Indy. Interns met Indy in the Welcome Event where they were introduced to the city by the mayor and then heard from a panel of big-name Indy natives. They learned in Lead Indy from leaders in the nonprofit, civic, and corporate sectors and through Roche’s Ally4Alll training and Lilly’s Make it Safe to Thrive. In the final event, interns were able to give back to the city they had learned so much about. 

In the weeks prior to the Give Back event, interns voted on what cause they would like to contribute to. They selected Diversity & Inclusion, which left them with three nonprofit organizations to choose between to receive a $10,000 donation: Horizon House, Hear Indiana, and 100 Black Men of Indianapolis. A week of social media content was dedicated to highlighting each of the organizations, their missions and services, and what a donation would mean to them. 

Before introducing all of the nonprofit organization leaders, interns got to hear from a group of young leaders in Indy to find out all of the ways that they get involved and give back. They shared how many different ways it’s possible to give back through time, talent, treasure, and networking. The young leaders came from places like Indiana Sports Corp, Cummins Inc., and Young Professionals of Central Indiana. They all have a wide breadth of places and ways that they give back to the Indianapolis community. 

Then, the three finalist organizations were given a chance to share what they do, what role Indy plays in their work, and how interns can support their mission. 

Representing 100 Black Men of Indianapolis was Joseph Eldridge, who is the Program, Volunteer, and Community Engagement Specialist. Joseph has always worked in the nonprofit sector, but when some of his friends were participants in 100 Black Men, he knew this was the opportunity that could marry his passion and his purpose. 100 Black Men of Indianapolis is a youth development organization that serves several hundred Indianapolis youth each year through mentoring-based educational programs. The 100 is composed of members and volunteers of diverse backgrounds and experiences with a common commitment to helping children. 

Naomi Horton, CEO of Hear Indiana, spoke about her organization’s important work. Naomi shared that she has such passion for her organization because she is currently a speech language pathologist in training, and when she moved to Indiana, she was shocked at the lack of technology and inclusion supporting deaf or hard of hearing children. Hear Indiana empowers and supports families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing through listening and spoken language services. They provide the information, education, advocacy, and hope to move children from striving to thriving.

Horizon House’s representative was their Executive Director Teresa Wessel. Teresa found a passion for her agency because it offers more than just a meal or a roof. Horizon House provides programs that help people experiencing homelessness build a new life. Horizon House is a full-service agency that connects individuals experiencing homelessness with integrated, comprehensive services. They provide a safe place and basic services as people take steps towards a more stable life.

All of the leaders stressed how much they have faced challenges and had to pivot in light of the global pandemic. Hear Indiana combats the difficulties that e-learning and face coverings can cause for children who are hard of hearing. They have been striving towards creating new technology and guidebooks to help relieve some of these issues. Horizon House staff had to come together to find a way to provide resources and support those experiencing homelessness while socially distancing both the neighbors and staff. They had to add a lot more basic needs to maintain safety and hygiene, despite having to cancel all of their regular fundraising events. 100 Black Men of Indianapolis has become a staff of one during this pandemic, creating a need for great resiliency and time commitment. They’ve had to switch to virtual mentoring and find a way to connect with all their students despite limited access to technology. All three of these organizations experienced major shutdowns, whether it was of schools, audiology centers, or events. 

In conclusion, all of the organization leaders stressed the importance of advocating for important causes and holding accountability in your peer networks. They urged interns to get involved with their work and use their voices to raise awareness in the future. Becoming an advocate is the first step towards making tangible change in a community. 

After the three finalists had their chance to share their powerful stories, it was time to reveal the winner of the $10,000 donation. A quick video—with confetti and all—announced the recipient: 100 Black Men of Indianapolis!

The chatroom erupted with excitement and congratulatory messages as all the nonprofit leaders clapped. Joseph seemed moved as he accepted the donation and explained how much he would be able to expand access to technology, mentoring, and mental health resources for students from this donation. The extent and significance of the donation created a powerful, exciting moment that all the interns are able to feel proud of. 

But wait! Another video from Roche rep, Bridget Boyle, and Eli Lilly rep, Amy Green, rolled and revealed another surprise. Both of the runner-up organizations would each receive a $2,000 donation—making the Indyfluence interns’ donation total add up to $14,000!

Teresa from Horizon House expressed that this donation would help them invest in more technology for things like telehealth and other comprehensive services for their neighbors experiencing homelessness. Naomi said Hear Indiana intends to use the money to distribute information and equipment to local schools to make sure they’re providing appropriate accommodation to children who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

The event ended with a thank you message to the sponsor companies and the interns for their participation throughout the past four weeks. Indyfluence interns were urged to consider making Indy, a city full of young doers and changemakers, their home.  

This event was incredibly powerful and a perfect way to complete the Indyfluence program. Interns were able to make a lasting change with their donation of choice and hear directly from the organizations about how that change would be implemented. In the process, they also learned about important causes in the Indianapolis community and hopefully will continue to engage with and advocate for these incredible causes. Philanthropy is truly a part of Indy’s DNA, and an Indyfluence event would not have been complete without it! 

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