ROI awards $1.86 million in Ready Communities implementation grants

Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) has announced that 12 quality of place implementation grants have been awarded in seven counties in the Indiana Uplands as part of its Ready Communities program.

The Ready Communities competitive grant program empowers counties and communities to strategically plan for, develop, and implement projects and programs that build quality of place, grow regional capacity for workforce development and attraction, and improve the attributes and amenities that make the Indiana Uplands a desirable place to live, work, and play.

“At Regional Opportunity Initiatives, we are inspired and humbled by the innovative and transformative projects that are occurring across the Uplands in response to the Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction planning process,” said President and CEO Tina Peterson.  “The grants we are funding through the Ready Communities initiative will set in motion strategies that will catalyze progress in our region and speak to the determination of our communities to ensure a prosperous future for all who call this region home.”

Grants were awarded in amounts ranging from $100,000 to $250,000 per project for a total of $1,863,781.

Boys and Girls Club of Lawrence County to renovate the teen building and create The Launching Center, a multi-use STEM space featuring robotics, a makerspace, and tech shop for elementary school children and teens in after-school programming. – The Launching Center will introduce students to regionally relevant in-demand skills and jobs through project-based learning, soft-skills training, career awareness, and pathway activities.

Brown County Regional Sewer District for a wastewater strategic management plan. – This grant will fund an engineering evaluation of existing septic treatment systems and study the technical and economic feasibility of regional wastewater collection and treatment options in Brown County.

CDFI Friendly Bloomington for seed funding to support this new nonprofit. – Funding will be used to grow its capacity to bring creative capital to communities across the region for attainable housing, community facilities, and small business growth.

City of Bedford, IN, to establish the Avoca Fish Hatchery as Lawrence County’s first public park. – This grant will fund renovations to a historic two-story shelter house, improvements to the walking trail with compact stone, mile markers and directional signage, and preparations for an auxiliary volunteer fire station on the property. The Lawrence County Park Foundation will also be created to provide a new unifying entity, providing opportunities to support, preservation, and maintenance for the county’s new parks system.

Bloomington Parks Foundation to enhance the Banneker Community Center. –  Grant funds will be used for renovations, equipment, and technology to grow the Center’s capacity to server as a cultural center. Funds will be used to purchase new furniture, counters, cabinets and work stations; renovate a commercial kitchen; install video projectors, screens and speakers; incorporate iPads and interactive toys, and partially fund a 14-passenger bus to provide transportation for field trips programs.

Daviess County Economic Development Foundation to fund a portion of construction costs for the Commons of Daviess County Downtown Plaza and Event Pavilion. –Grant funds will be used to help convert vacant and underutilized properties in downtown Washington into a multi-use community gathering space with a performance arts pavilion, central lawn, public restrooms, concessions serving area, and covered parking lot.

Jasper Public Library to create, equip, and staff a mobile makerspace. – This grant will fund a mobile van to bring hands-on STEM, library, and creative programming to community events and locations throughout Dubois County.

Monroe County Board of Commissioners to help fund site safety and accessibility upgrades for phase one of the Quarries in the Uplands project–Developed in phases, this new park and regional destination will showcase quarries and honor our region’s limestone heritage through interpretive exhibits, gardens and walking paths, and spaces for a variety of community, educational, and performing arts events.

Owen County Community Foundation for the MYPath Trail System, a series of connecting trails through Owen County that stretch from McCormick’s Creek State Park (2 miles east of Spencer), through the town of Spencer, and to the YMCA (2 miles west of Spencer). – This grant will fund new sidewalks, decorative landscaping, ADA approved crosswalks, tree replacement, decorative streetlights, signage, and interpretive displays.

Pride in the Park Inc to renovate and add exercise, health, and wellness amenities at Humphreys Park in Linton, IN – This grant will fund two pickleball courts, a sand volleyball court, exercise stations, and signage along the walking trail.

Summit Hill Community Development Corporation to fund a portion of construction and operation costs for a high-quality early Head Start center in the Bloomington Crestmont neighborhood. –In addition to caring for and educating infants and toddlers, the Summit Hill Childcare Center will feature a Bloomington Housing Authority resident cohort of childcare educators and include three rental apartments for low-income families.

White River Valley School District for the Precision Machining Program, a dual credit pathway in partnership with Purdue and Vincennes Universities. – This grant will fund a CNC machine and computer software to expand the school’s advanced manufacturing pathway program.

Ready Communities Grant Process

Counties began the Ready Communities planning process in the fall of 2018. Each Indiana Uplands county received a $50,000 planning grant to develop a Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plan. To date, nine of the 11 Uplands counties have completed plans, with two plans nearing completion. Completed Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plans can be viewed on the ROI website (

ROI has a committed a total of $3 million in Ready Communities implementation grant funding for organizations in counties with completed Quality of Place and Workforce Attraction Plans.

Funding categories for implementation grants include Aesthetics and Beautification Enhancements, Connectivity Infrastructure Development, and/or Community Cohesion & Support initiatives.

The next round of grant funding will be available in spring 2020.

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives

The mission of Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is to advance economic and community prosperity in the 11 counties of the Indiana Uplands (Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties). ROI is implementing education and workforce initiatives and regional engagement initiatives for quality of place development.