Indianapolis ranks in the top 10 cities for young professionals, and we’ll take this as a strong sign for the future. As talent rises through the ranks of corporate, civic and not-for-profit communities, more young professionals are taking their seat at the table to address complex issues in our city and region—issues like poverty. If you haven’t joined yet, we invite you to get to know the issues and take action to help families and children in need.
A new study from United Way of Central Indiana shows more than one in three Hoosier households with employed adults cannot afford the basics of housing, food, health care, child care and transportation. In Central Indiana alone, more than 230,000 families are living in poverty or are one crisis away, right this very minute.
Ending poverty must be a collective effort at scale. Our community’s struggles aren’t solved one issue at a time. You fight poverty by harnessing the power of what philanthropists, advocates, volunteers and organizations can do together to make an impact. With ELEVATE, United Way’s new, signature fundraising gala we harness the collective power of the next generation.
Beyond recognizing and celebrating the impact and accomplishment of our fifteen ELEVATE Award finalists, ELEVATE attendees will be our first philanthropists to seed United Way’s Basic Needs Fund – a specific fund to help struggling families and children gain access to healthy food, safe and affordable housing, healthcare services and transportation aid. At the heart of United Way’s mission is identifying and evaluating the community-based organizations doing the best work on the ground and connecting passionate donors to the cause to make the biggest impact possible.
When we start by considering the impact on the smallest members of our community, statistics show that the odds are against children born in poverty ever rising out of poverty as adults. In Marion County alone, 28% of children under the age of 18 live in poverty. Poverty determines a child’s access to quality education, healthcare, nutrition and even life expectancy. Just imagine the child who struggles with hunger on a regular basis. We know too many children living in poverty go home from school on a Friday with no guarantee that a healthy meal – or any kind of meal – will be on the table until school starts again on Monday.
When you’re hungry how do you feel? Unfocused? Tired? Light-headed? Hangry? Now, imagine you can’t simply swing by the grocery store or whip up something delicious at home. Imagine you’re not sure when you will have your next meal.
During ELEVATE, attendees will help us pack 500 weekend sacks filled with healthy snacks and hygiene items to be distributed to children in the afterschool program at Edna Martin Christian Center. This effort will provide important nourishment for kids when they can’t depend on weekday meals at school. And who doesn’t want to see a bunch of “do-gooders” in cocktail attire getting hands on with a volunteer project? A special thanks ELEVATE’s Impact sponsor, Katz, Sapper and Miller for making these weekend packs possible. Their generosity will be magnified by ELEVATE attendees – and we hope you’ll be among them. There are less than 100 spots left, so get tickets while you can.
When children aren’t distracted by how hungry they are, they can focus on their homework, they can better listen and comprehend, and they can concentrate on making strong, lasting and meaningful friendships. If we can make a collective impact in childhood hunger, think about the greater chance for more children to rise out of poverty as adults.
We must start now to break the cycle of poverty. Let’s take our seat at the table. The next generation is counting on us.