The grant to the IU Foundation follows a 2015 planning grant from the endowment to explore the feasibility of a center that studies and develops solutions to social challenges in rural Indiana. The latest grant — $2.5 million of which is subject to matching requirements — will help the center support regional initiatives designed to address community-identified opportunities and needs in eleven counties in southwest-central Indiana.
Developed with input from local residents, community leaders, and leaders of regional organizations, the center's initial focus will be on creating scalable and replicable solutions in the areas of health and wellness, sustainable communities and environments, and arts and culture, with future areas of focus to include educational attainment, entrepreneurship and economic development, and capacity building and leadership development. The center also will support ongoing work by IU Bloomington faculty, staff, and students to address issues of importance to rural communities and will align its efforts with those of Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. and Applied Research Institute, which were established in 2016 with grant support from the endowment.
"The depth and breadth of the engagement of Indiana University's faculty, administration, and students in the center's efforts to improve the quality of life in communities throughout this region is most impressive," said Sara B. Cobb, the endowment's vice president for education. "The center will marshal IU Bloomington's diverse resources to build on the strengths and address the challenges of neighboring communities, and their residents' futures will be much brighter."
(Photo credit: Indiana University Bloomington)