Womens Fund recently launched a bold, ten-year NEXT Initiative, which has created an incubator for social entrepreneurs to create holistic, wrap-around solutions that anticipate and remove every barrier preventing this population from achieving economic success. Womens Fund will award NEXT Fellowships that last up to two years with bold salaries and full benefits.
For CGI, Womens Fund commits to awarding two inaugural NEXT Fellows who are creating a solution based on three critical areas: emerging adult women in poverty, opportunities for female ex-offenders, and food insecurity. They will incubate how they can use ecologically efficient farming to teach non-violent female ex-offenders a marketable and life-sustaining trade, giving them a set of basic business and entrepreneurial skills, supporting their ambitions for further education, and helping them move to a lifetime of economic security (as defined by the Indiana Institute for Working Families). Indianapolis has a lack of trained, skilled farmers which limits the ability to build a thriving food web and citywide food security (Growing Places Indy); while at the same time has approximately 3,000 acres of vacant lots that could be used for urban farming (LISC, Indianapolis). The NEXT Fellows will incubate how this solution can also be used meet the food challenges of those living in what is known as the worst food desert in the United States (USDA). This could include providing produce for food pantries, farmers markets or local schools. The incubation will also have a deep focus on the mental health needs of ex-offenders.
Womens Fund commits to surrounding the NEXT Fellows with the same holistic, wrap-around support they will provide their eventual clients. Womens Fund will provide everything they need to be successful in launching their solution: office space, technical assistance, legal, human resources, organizational development, farming/agricultural/gardening assistance, training/assistance in working with ex-offenders, funding, etc. Because of the reputation and influence of Womens Fund, they will be able to easily connect the NEXT Fellows with all of the key resources needed as they incubate their solution.
Womens Fund will provide comprehensive assistance to our Fellows as they work on the following priorities during the two year solution incubation period: learning about farm management; learning formal business skills and practical entrepreneurial skills; learning about local food and farming trends and regulations; learning about side industries related to farming; finding a farm location; learning about the specific needs of the ex-offender population; setting up an organizational structure; and discovering how they can help meet the food needs of their community through providing produce to food pantries or farmers markets, or local schools/community centers.
1st Quarter: Work with Fellows to develop incubation plan and measurable milestones.
2nd Quarter: Fellows research best practices and meet with key informants to learn more about the areas listed above. Womens Fund will work with Fellows as they revise their solution based on findings.
3rd and 4th Quarters: Fellows will gain experience in farm and nonprofit management through internships and continue their research.
5th Quarter: Womens Fund will help Fellows find an appropriate location(s) for the farm. The solution will be revised based on internship experiences.
6th Quarter: Womens Fund will help Fellows set up an organizational structure, determine staffing needs and begin to develop programmatic and organizational outcomes.
7th Quarter: Farm location is finalized and any work necessary on the location is started. Programmatic and organizational outcomes are finalized. Fellows meet with potential referring organizations.
8th Quarter: Fellows recruit participants and develop organizational and programmatic policies and procedures. Farm location(s) is prepared for participants.
Womens Fund of Central Indiana has conducted extensive research relative to women living in poverty and attempting to surmount barriers to economic security and stability. Women in the 18-24 year old age group are particularly vulnerable due to a number of factors. This age group has the highest poverty rates (14.6% of all women in Indiana) and are also reflected in the following statistics about women: they are entering poverty at a faster rate than men (increased by 4.4% from 2012 to 2013 vs. .2% for men), and they are more likely to live in extreme poverty (the number has risen 23% since 2008, defined by a family of three making less than $10,045 per year); nearly half of all single moms live in poverty and the number is rising (from 2008 to 2014, there has been a 22.3 percent increase in the number of single mothers with children under the age of 18) (Indiana Institute for Working Families). Additionally, Indianapolis has a lack of trained, skilled farmers which limits the ability to build a thriving food web and citywide food security (Growing Places Indy), while at the same time has approximately 3,000 acres of vacant lots that could be used for urban farming (LISC, Indianapolis).
Womens Fund grantee organizations serving girls report they have nowhere to send girls after they turn 18 or graduate from high school. While there are a number of organizations technically serving the needs of women and girls in this age group, finding age-appropriate services that meet the unique needs of this population is difficult. Adult serving organizations report that do not like working with this age group, because they are difficult, more self-absorbed than self-aware, and disrupt programming for older, more mature women. The women in this age group have not yet developed the ability to create a future story based on hope and opportunity, they do not see possibilities or promise in their lives, and they do not have access to the resources and support they need at this critical state in their development.
Womens Fund seeks to create comprehensive, holistic programming to remove all barriers for emerging adult women living in poverty to move along the path of economic mobility to a lifetime of economic security. Womens Fund of Central Indiana has made a bold commitment to emerging adult women (age 18-24) living in poverty through the NEXT Initiative. This ten-year initiative begins with an incubator for social entrepreneurs to create holistic, wrap-around solutions that anticipate and remove every barrier preventing this population from achieving economic success. Womens Fund will award NEXT Fellowships that last up to two years with bold salaries and full benefits. The support and commitment Womens Fund has made to NEXT is extraordinary for two reasons: no one else is addressing emerging adult women in a comprehensive manner and the timeline to success for this population will be long and fraught with significant obstacles and setbacks.
Womens Fund of Central Indiana seeks financial resources and best practices related to urban farming, working with ex-offenders, and successful residential programming.
Womens Fund is able to offer expertise in creating bold, transformative change through grant making; thought leadership around emerging adult women; and, a holistic look at long-term economic security (beginning with our organization). We can share expertise around our learnings from NEXT which is a bold commitment for the benefit of emerging adult women (age 18-24) living in poverty. This ten-year initiative begins with an incubator for social entrepreneurs to create holistic, wrap-around solutions that anticipate and remove every barrier preventing this population from achieving economic success. Womens Fund will award NEXT Fellowships that last up to two years with bold salaries and full benefits.