Implementation Highlight: Indiana University and Heading Home

December 1, 2023 / 5 mins read

In the spring of 2023, the Kelley Institute for Social Impact (KISI) at Indiana University hosted its 5th annual Kelley Impact Competition in partnership with a local nonprofit partner, Heading Home of South-Central Indiana (HHSCI).

Indiana University is the first school that the Impact Competition (IC) partnered with, and the program there has gained strength and popularity each year, thanks in large part to the IC Coordinator there, Shawna Meyer-Nidermen, the Associate Director of the Kelley Institute for Social Impact.

In January of 2023,104(!) students applied to participate in the 5th annual Kelley Impact Competition, and on Competition Day in March, forty-eight students comprising twelve teams competed in the presentation rounds.

The winning team, called "TM Consulting," recommended a bus campaign, a local mural, and community engagement events, including a Homeless and Hunger Awareness Week, and membership to the area Chamber of Commerce to build connections with local businesses.

According to the team, “We were interested in the ability to have a positive impact through this challenge. We enjoyed getting to know Heading Home and their cause, which was something that we were not familiar with before.”

According to survey data after the competition, IU learned that 90% of students were motivated to participate in the Kelley Impact Competition due to their interest in having the “ability to make a difference." Time and again, we are amazed to learn that students are motivated more by helping their community than they are by the cash prize offered to the winners.

Since the competition, KISI staff, HHSCI staff, and the four students from the winning team met monthly to implement their ideas as part of an anti-stigma campaign towards poverty and promotion of National Hunger & Homelessness awareness week. All of this work has been funded by the Impact Competition.

One of the events that students helped design was a Poverty Simulation, an open event held in early November 2023 that encouraged attendees to learn more about the complexities of poverty by partaking in a facilitated simulation. This event was created to raise awareness of the experience of poverty and explore its myriad challenges. 10 community members served as volunteers for 26 participants that went through a poverty simulation led by Ron Duncan.

Later on in November, Heading Home hosted another event in partnership with students, titled "The Path Home." This event provided an opportunity for attendees to hear neighbors share their stories of housing insecurity and discuss ways the community can address the housing crisis. The Path Home hosted approximately 30 individuals and aired on local access television to help elevate the stories of individuals with lived experience.

Additionally, the students presented a High School Reading Challenge at the local public high schools that was curated in partnership with the local library. Students that read and participate in discussion regarding the topic of homelessness are eligible for prizes through the program.

These innovative educational offerings were a co-creation of IU students and Heading Home staff, and are inspiring examples of how the Impact Competition strengthens relationships and builds lasting change in communities.