In preparation for their next strategic plan, CICF set out to better understand the communities and population groups that make up the areas they serve within Marion and Hamilton counties. The idea was simple in theory, yet complex in application – convene a group of community advocates before moving forward with a plan to guide the work of the upcoming years.
Building new community relationships and strengthening current ones is vital for CICF to understand what is most important and relevant to the various neighborhoods and populations in and around Indianapolis.
– RYAN BRADY
Once a formal ambassador description was sent out through multiple channels, the response was overwhelming, nearly doubling the initial goal of twenty. Thirty-six ambassadors completed the training and research within a one month period between July 22 and August 22, 2017. These individuals were trained by SmallBox on several direct and indirect design research methods – rooted in empathizing with others – in order to collect stories and information from people within their designated areas and/or population groups. Each ambassador was required to present findings from a minimum of five interviews, as well as through comment boxes, graffiti walls, surveys, observations, and journals.
The qualitative data recorded by the ambassadors focused on capturing the perspectives, opinions, and needs of people in their own words. Data was given to SmallBox to review, synthesize, and frame for CICF to apply to their new vision of work.
Through this engagement, CICF was able to better understand the needs of the communities and population groups that make up Central Indiana. The most important part of the process was the meaningful observation, interaction, and reflection of people and places in their natural environments.
There were many valuable insights that emerged through this process – presented in a 65-page field report. The feedback made the foundation aware of staffing needs to continue the program, grow the base of ambassadors, and reinforce their commitment to the newly-established vision of equity.