In 2015, Indianapolis’ east side was named as a federal Promise Zone, and multiple partnerships were formed, including with IUPUI.
With that 10-year designation and other resources it brings, the east side area has been able to get 60 grants so far, totaling $182 million, and another 10 grants totaling $23.6 million are pending. Those grants have gone to multiple purposes, including supporting local businesses and residents, redeveloping vacant properties, increasing affordable housing options and offering programs and opportunities for local youth.
IUPUI has been working with the community in multiple ways, including the John Boner Neighborhood Centers, residents and other community leaders, to collect data and do assessments of the impact of different efforts on the neighborhood.
The ongoing partnership involves the IU Public Policy Institute and the Polis Center, which worked with the Boner Center to develop the tools needed to collect, assess and review data as required for federal programs, said Breanca Merritt, Director of PPI’s Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy.
The partnership between IUPUI and the Boner Center was new, since no other communities involved in the federal Promise Zone program had partnered with a university before, Merritt said.
Through these partnerships, the Boner Center receives feedback on programs, the organization and their effectiveness. By working with the two IUPUI-based groups, the Boner Center can ensure that data is collected with integrity and that the programs being put into place for the community are implemented effectively, said Jon Berg, Promise Zone Director for the Boner Center.
That work provides the Boner Center with meaningful neighborhood indicators in topics such as socio-economic conditions, health/vital statistics, education, equity, and economy. The partnerships are instrumental to the success of the IndyEast Achievement Zone, a piece of the overall IndyEast Promise Zone, by providing necessary data insight about families, the neighborhood, and Indianapolis, according to the Boner Center.
By working with the Public Policy Institute and the Polis Center, officials at the Boner Center have been able to be develop better evaluation techniques that ground their decisions in data, Berg said.
While the Boner Center is gathering data, working with partners and doing the assessments, PPI and the Polis Center are making sure that data is sound, he said.
They also ensure that the community is able to show the positive progress being made through data, he said.
The Public Policy Institute provides services around data quality and process analysis; program and impact evaluation; and community survey design, management, and analysis. That includes providing evaluation services for Great Families 2020 and the overall IndyEast Achievement Zone and preparation of a comprehensive community needs assessment and segmentation analysis.
The Polis Center provides support with advanced data analysis and trend reporting that supports community change efforts and engagement around data and social impact.
Both PPI and the Polis Center participate in the Boner Center Data Team’s work toward building an integrated longitudinal data system that will combine collected data from multiple sources for analysis and reporting. And both also provide guidance to ensure the Boner Center is following requirements for consent, transfer, storage, data sharing, and analysis protocols for personally identifiable information, and for the development of methods of evaluation for several community-wide initiatives, including the IndyEast Achievement Zone.
IUPUI helped the Boner Center in its mission to seek funding for educational programs by doing a needs assessment, looking at residents from cradle to college, which helps inform much of what the center does for the community, Merritt said.
They also worked together on a community-based crime reduction grant from the U.S. Department of Justice by doing data analysis, focus groups and tracking crime data, Merritt said.
And at the same time, the Boner Center can help IUPUI with its own connections, including a study being done by the Public Policy Institute on evictions, in which researchers can connect with the community and the community can get data about affordable housing, Berg said.
IUPUI has also been able to share the data being collected, such as on crime and socio-economics, Merritt said.
The Boner Center and CEO James Taylor are also passionate about leveraging the strength of IUPUI while valuing the experiential opportunities for students, who are learning the importance of community engagement by being involved with the work being done at the center, Merritt said.