Martindale-Brightwood:  Enhancing Community Resilience Through Multi-Party Collaboration

Genevieve Shaker, Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, IUPUI, Sean Huddleston, President, Martin University, Lisa Harris, CEO, Eskenazi Health, and Chad Priest, CEO, American Red Cross, Indiana Region

Separate but related collaborations of several colleges (Martin University, Ivy Tech, and IUPUI) with the American Red Cross, Eskenazi Health, and other community organizations show promise in helping the historic Martindale-Brightwood community of Indianapolis imagine possible futures built on education, job creation, enhanced public health, resilience, and new community connections.  Though less than a year old, these projects are already showing promising results.  Yet rather than prematurely celebrate success, we hope to engage Summit attendees as active participants in discussing next steps for sustainability based on attendees’ own best practices.

For context, panelists will briefly describe the neighborhood and how the distinctive work of each contributor advances the common good collectively, with Martin as the connecting anchor.  We will tap the audience’s experienced advice on how to engage faculty more substantively, including creative cross-project service-learning and other community engagement activities:

  • Defining and achieving common good goals of the project (IUPUI)
  • Setting priorities and balancing multiple collaborations (Martin)
  • Engaging deeply and sustainably for long-term impact on community health (Ezkenazi)
  • Honoring traditional missions while innovating to promote resilience (Red Cross)

We believe these separate collaborations with the Martindale-Brightwood community will have a greater cumulative impact, be sustained to the time of real transformation, and demonstrate the reciprocity and mutual benefit for which Campus Compact is so well known–if we can find the right models, strategies, and means for enhancing neighborhood resilience.  We invite participants to envision possible steps and strategies the collaborators can take collectively while maintaining their own separate goals.

The proposed session will contribute to the Summit by exploring how multiple initiatives in one community can be combined for more powerful and lasting results for the common good—in this case, engaging with the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood to address conditions that will support the residents’ goals for social and economic improvements based on education, public health, job creation, and resilience.  Most college community engagement projects are unilateral—between one institution and one or more community organizations.  While there are many participants in the overall effort to impact the neighborhood, the presentation will focus on four principals—IUPUI, Martin University, Eskenazi Health, and the American Red Cross.

When multiple partners are involved, issues of control, direction, and long-term effect are more complex, but the overall gains may be much greater.  In this instance, the academic institutions are playing supporting roles, not their more familiar leading or initiating roles, thus requiring academics to adapt their modes of engagement to others’ priorities.  There are challenges, but also unique opportunities.  We hope the Martindale-Brightwood project will help other colleges in other communities consider multi-faceted partnerships.  In return, we expect to learn from participants’ comments, suggestions, and questions.

Anchored by Martin University and several postsecondary institutions, the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross, Eskenazi Health, and others are working with and through Martin University on separate but related projects with the expectation that their cumulative impact will enhance the neighborhood with tangible improvements that are sustainable as key building blocks for a self-determined future.  Although there are positive developments to report as best practices, the session seeks to use these initial steps to seek counsel and advice about how to ensure the desired continued cumulative impact across separate efforts.

The nature of the collaborations, centered initially on public health and the leadership of both Eskenazi and the American Red Cross, did not begin with service-learning and yet overall goals for advancing the neighborhood’s common good will depend on expanding and sustaining this work by engaging other dimensions of the community.  As Martin University, IUPUI–and increasingly Ivy Tech—become more involved through service learning, applied and action research, career counseling, and workforce planning, and economic development, the need to draw on and move beyond traditional service-learning offers an opportunity for innovation and expanded community engagement.  We hope to draw on the experiences and expertise of participants to envision ways in which the academic partners, especially, can keep a clear focus on the neighborhood itself while supporting the work of Eskenazi and the American Red Cross.

The proposed session will begin with an overview of the presentation objectives, facilitated by Genevieve Shaker, Associate Professor of Philanthropic Studies at IUPUI and Vice-Chair of the board of the Greater Indianapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross.  As an IUPUI faculty member with significant experience in service-learning and scholarly work on universities’ duty to the common good, Shaker will bring that perspective to her comments and to guiding the discussion.  IUPUI has been a strong partner with Martin University since Martin’s founding and has maintained a number of collaborations, including recently participating in Martin’s strategic planning.  As a Red Cross board member, Shaker has been active in that organization’s expanding community engagement work and has played a role in facilitating collaboration between IUPUI and the Red Cross.  Shaker will provide the foundation for how higher education is a key participant in this overall community engagement work.  She will acquaint statewide Summit participants with Martindale-Brightwood by showing a short segment of the 2006 documentary of the neighborhood, “Reviving the Spirit,” to explain how this new collaboration builds on community spirit.  Shaker will moderate the panelists’ comments and audience engagement.

Next, there will be three brief descriptions of what each of the principal participants has undertaken within the overall plan to enhance neighborhood resiliency.  Martin University has been the anchor for these projects and is the common link.  The overall hopes for the collaborations relate to Martin’s role in building neighborhood capacity through education directed toward job creation and self-empowerment—a realization of the hopes of Martin’s founder, Boniface Hardin.  Sean Huddleston, current Martin President and board member of the American Red Cross Greater Indianapolis Chapter, is the guiding conscience and coordinator of the collective efforts.  Among many challenges facing President Huddleston is setting priorities when there are multiple partners and stakeholders while adhering to the primary mission of the University, especially when resources are so severely constrained.  He will speak to the opportunities and challenges he faces in guiding the several initiatives, centered on Martin: WORKS, while drawing on the potential of academic community engagement among several area colleges.  Uniquely, he simultaneously represents a community organization and a university that seeks to do good in that very community.

Lisa Harris, CEO of Eskenazi Health, past board chair of the American Red Cross Greater Indianapolis Chapter, and IU Professor of Medicine will describe why and how Eskenazi has engaged with Martin not only to advance traditional public health issues but also to conceive of community health as more involved than physical illness or personal health, consistent with its guiding value:  “Recognizing that individual and community health are integrally connected.”  In cooperation with Martin, Eskenazi has collaborated in developing curricula that will prepare Martin graduates for jobs at Eskenazi facilities and providing financial assistance as students begin their work while undertaking their studies.  One of the motivating factors for Eskenazi’s deeper engagement, beyond providing direct health services, is the intent to promote long term community health by taking the broad view that physical health depends on residents’ economic and social health.

Finally, Chad Priest, CEO of the Indiana Region of the American Red Cross and Adjunct  Assistant Professor of the IU School of Medicine, will talk about the American Red Cross’s role in initiating and facilitating the collaboration among the partners.  Significantly, all presenters are current members of the board of the American Red Cross Greater Indianapolis chapter and have recognized the unique role the American Red Cross can play in community engagement and resilience.  Known internationally and locally as the organization that helps people and communities deal with disasters, it is less well-known for the element of mission that focuses on preparation and prevention.  Locally, the Greater Indianapolis Chapter of the American Red Cross has taken a proactive role as a catalyst to promote resilience to disaster events in communities, especially Martindale-Brightwood. Resilience implies “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”  Priest will talk about how the local American Red Cross has adapted community-based participatory strategies to work with communities to promote resilience.

We envision the presentation in the following format (time sequences are approximate):

  • Shaker: Introductions,  5 Minutes
  • Shaker: Session overview and context, 10 Minutes
  • Video excerpt from 2006 WFYI documentary, “Reviving the Spirit”, 5 Minutes
  • Huddleston: Martin University perspective, 10 Minutes
  • Shaker: Moderated audience participation, 10 Minutes
  • Harris: Eskenazi perspective, 10 Minutes
  • Shaker: Moderated audience participation, 10 Minutes
  • Priest: Red Cross perspective, 10 Minutes
  • Shaker: Moderated audience participation, 10 Minutes
  • All: Wrap up and final comments, 10 Minutes

The format, of course, will adjust according to circumstances, but the plan is to allow for at least 30 minutes of active audience engagement.  We intend to give each of the four presenters time for uninterrupted comments about their respective projects and the issues they are facing in working across so many different institutions while maintaining coherence and a shared objective—improving the personal, social, economic, and educational health of Martindale-Brightwood.  Assuming the streaming platform will permit a “chat” function, audience participants will be invited to make comments or ask questions via chat with Shaker, as moderator, calling up individuals to address the panel.  However, we ask permission to record the full presentation session, including the chat entries, and to use chat as well as online participation to ask participants to suggest ideas, make references to other resources, or offer advice that can be captured and considered later as part of future planning.

All four of the presenters have strong academic backgrounds in higher education and represent organizations with community engagement explicitly as a part of their missions.  All are acknowledged leaders in their respective fields with exemplary records of community engagement.  As panel organizer, Shaker has written for public audiences on the duty of colleges and universities to the common good. Her projects include several policy papers commissioned by the TIAA Institute on how to define and assess this duty, an edited book on faculty work as a public good, and two recent articles for Trusteeship, the Association of Governing Boards’ publication, on trustees’ duty to maintain and advance the common good.  A veteran of online teaching, The Fund Raising School webinars, and virtual conferences, Shaker has experience in managing video interactions and is well-prepared to moderate audience participation.”