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Building Socially Connected Communities Program

  • OCRA
  • Current: Building Socially Connected Communities Program

Building Socially Connected Communities

Program Development

In light of concerning public health statistics regarding loneliness throughout the country, OCRA is uniquely positioned to address these challenges in Indiana through a community and economic development lens with the creation of a new grant program. According to the U.S. Surgeon General's “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community” advisory report, experiencing loneliness is associated with a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke, depression, anxiety and premature death. The report also states the mortality impact of being socially disconnected is similar to that caused by smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, and even greater than that associated with obesity and physical inactivity.

Drawing inspiration from the advisory report, the proposed grant program encourages communities to proactively address loneliness by increasing and enhancing opportunities for social connection. The following reasons underscore the urgency of this community-focused approach:

  1. Community Well-Being and Social Capital: Public health statistics in Indiana reveal a concerning trend in individual health outcomes and in the overall well-being of communities. Social isolation and loneliness impact the social fabric and cohesion of neighborhoods, diminishing social capital. This grant program seeks to strategically invest in initiatives that build social connections, strengthen community bonds and enhance the overall quality of life for all Hoosiers.
  2. Economic Vibrancy and Local Businesses: Social isolation has economic implications as well, which affects local businesses and community vitality. Those experiencing loneliness may be less engaged in community and economic activities. The Building Socially Connected Communities grant program seeks to foster community engagement and indirectly supports local businesses, enhances economic vibrancy and contributes to the overall economic health of Indiana's communities.
  3. Alignment with Statewide Development Goals: Indiana is actively pursuing statewide development initiatives aimed at enhancing community resilience and fostering economic growth. Addressing social isolation and loneliness aligns with these goals by contributing to the creation of strong, connected communities. This program provides a platform for collaborative efforts between local government, community organizations, local businesses and residents to develop and implement initiatives that enhance the social fabric of our cities and towns.

In conclusion, this grant program is crucial for mitigating the challenges faced by residents across Indiana. By strategically investing in community well-being and economic vibrancy, and aligning with statewide development goals, OCRA can help foster resilient communities where all Hoosiers thrive socially, economically and culturally.

Program Overview

In response to the findings outlined in the U.S. Surgeon General's “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community” advisory report, the Building Socially Connected Communities program seeks to address the issue of loneliness across rural and mid-size cities in Indiana. The program is designed to align with the recommendations and insights provided in the advisory, focusing on strategies that enhance social connections and well-being for all Hoosiers.

Applicants must view the Building Socially Connected Communities program overview video before applying. To download the presentation slides, click here.

There is $200,000 in total funding available. Applicants can apply for either type, but not both.

  • Quick Action projects:
    • Maximum award $5,000
    • Minimum $1,000
    • 1:1 match, 30% of match can be in-kind
  • Large Impact projects:
    • Maximum $50,000
    • Minimum award $5,001
    • 1:1 cash match

    *State Funds (e.g. READI, CreatINg Places, etc.) may not be used as matching funds.

    Click here for a PDF version of the graphic above.

  • Eligible Applicants
    • Local government
    • Non-profit organizations
    • Community groups

    *A community must have a population under 50,000 to be eligible.*

    *Projects must include other community partners.*

  • Ineligible Activities
    • Plants, greenery, shrubs or anything of that nature
    • Wi-Fi
    • One-time use activities or products
    • Permanent public restrooms
    • Taxes
    • Food, drink or alcohol
    • Gaming and gambling activities
    • Illegal, political or unsanctioned activities
    • Demolition
    • Salaries
    • Administration fees, including grant writing or administration
    • Spaces that are not open to the public
    • Expenses that were incurred pre-award
  • Application Timeline
    • June 3 – Application opens
    • June-July – Speakers on Mental Health (dates TBD)
    • Aug. 29  - Last day to meet with the regional community liaison about proposed project
    • Sept. 12 – Applications due at Noon ET
    • Oct. 10 – Award announcement (World Mental Health Day)

Application Documents