An organization focused on empowering black residents of Indianapolis received a major boost as one of the first to receive funding through the Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative .

A $2 million grant awarded in August adds jet fuel to the Kheprw Institute, which had a total budget of just $800,000 two years ago.

The group will use the funds to expand Alchemy’s Entrepreneurial Development Incubator and strengthen initiatives related to housing and access to food.

Aguila Nadaraj

Aghilah Nadaraj, Head of Grants Business at Kheprw, said: “I think that’s what we’re really aiming for.”

Indianapolis nonprofits are an eclectic group with broad goals, including tackling climate change, housing inequality, and access to food. We host conferences, trainings and conversations to help educate entrepreneurs and young people.

Kheprw founder Imhotep Adisa started the organization 12 years ago as an after-school program for his son Diop Adisa and four classmates. It has grown into a multi-faceted group focused on the city’s black community and prioritizing building community wealth.

That makes it a frontrunner for the first round of grants from partnerships between the African American Quality of Life Initiative of Indianapolis, the National Urban League, the Indianapolis Urban League, and the African American Union of Indianapolis. rice field. The Alliance was formed in 2020 to support programs, policies and projects that significantly improve the daily lives of African Americans.

The initiative was launched with $100 million donated by the Indianapolis-based Lilly Foundation to the National Urban League. In August, the Urban League awarded 52 grants totaling $21 million for this initiative.

Kheprw has received three grants. $500,000 for Alkhemy, $300,000 for health and wellness programs, and $1 million for housing and home ownership.

Improving entrepreneurship

Jazmyn Perry

Alkhemy is Kheprw’s effort to increase the number of startups launched by black founders like Jazmyn Perry, who grew up near East 16th Street and College Avenue.

Perry grew up cooking a lot of his own meals with his sister because his mother worked long hours. Greenwood Central Her Nine I was. Perry’s grandmother helped her create the recipe.

As she got older she continued to cook, occasionally taking leftovers to relatives. Her cousin suggested she turn her hobby of cooking into a business.

That’s why Perry created 1610 Eats, which includes catering, cooking classes, and a personal chef service offering dishes that reflect Perry’s culture and roots.

Through her sister, Perry learned about the Kheprw Institute’s Alchemy Program, which offers a free 12-week training program for budding entrepreneurs.

The incubator program provided Perry networking and one-on-one mentoring opportunities. She said she likes the community-based approach.

“I think everyone in this world feels like they have to go it alone,” Perry told IBJ. and like capitalism.”

Kheprw leaders want to use a $500,000 grant from the African American Quality of Life Initiative to further strengthen Alkhemy. The group would like to add a 9-month business his accelerator and his 1-3 year fellowship program.

Diop Adisa

The accelerator is unlikely to launch until 2023 or 2024, said Diop Adisa, program director at Alkhemy.

“I’m not going to start it this year because I have more work to do… First and foremost, I need to work out the incubator kinks and best approach,” he told IBJ.

Like the accelerator program, the fellowship program is still in development. But he said Adisa will target people who have participated in Kheprw’s incubator and accelerator program.

But the program will be more than business creation. According to Kheprw’s website, fellows work together to support or develop social justice movements on a local and global scale.

Fellows are also eligible for support from the Kheprw Integrated Fund for startups.

“It’s really like, ‘Hey, this is how many dollars. It doesn’t matter if the interest rate is 0% or 1%. Here are some dollars. These will not only support you through training, but some capital, resources. , to provide technical assistance and help streamline the business model,” Adisa said.

Kheprw is supported by its lending program by participating in the Boston Impact Initiative’s Fund Building Cohort, an 18-month program aimed at developing programs that serve people of color.

Boston Impact, a Massachusetts-based impact investment fund, describes the program as an organization that “develops financial rigor and multi-stakeholder engagement processes for building, raising, and managing mixed capital funds.” It explains that it is an initiative to support

Kheprw is one of 12 participating community organizations.

Perry said the future loan program could help many startups.

“Many young business owners, especially those of color, are taking predatory loans or failing to fund their businesses at all,” Perry said. “And I feel like how much it
their failures.

beyond alchemy

Over the years, Kheprw has dabbled in many programs and has a huge list of products on its website. But Adisa told his IBJ the organization is in a phase of refocusing after a period of extreme growth.

Over the next year, the institute may “lock in” certain programs and let go of others.

For now, the organization’s main efforts include Alchemy, creating community land trusts, developing community-managed food initiatives, and working on data creation.
more accessible.

$1 million grant for racial equality and housing development from the African American Quality of Life Initiative is part of a national campaign to protect and expand housing for low-income individuals and families Support Kheprw’s work through Homes for All Indy.

Alvin Sanswangle

Homes for All Indy seeks to establish a Community Land Trust. This allows you to buy properties and make homes available at below market rental and purchase prices.

Kheprw project manager Alvin Sangsuwangul said the Community Land Trust’s goal is to keep housing affordable in perpetuity.

Homes for All Indy received $1.5 million last year from the city’s American Rescue Plan to support the land trust’s three-year start-up process. Sangsuwangul said the African-American Quality of Life Grant was founded by Intend Indiana, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that provides innovative financing and financing options for affordable housing. In partnership with, said the group will likely help establish affordable mortgage options.

Kheprw also works on food projects on its 17-acre property near South Capitol Avenue and York Street. The goal is to grow food and host a market, creating a kind of “food hub” for those who need it.

Mistry Davis

Mystrie Davis, Kheprw’s head of food initiatives, said the group will work with the community to develop the program.

“We want to unearth community conversations and share a vision with our immediate neighbors because the land has been a family farm for over 100 years,” says Davis. “So the place is rooted in the culture of the past.”

She said Food Hub is in its early stages, but the project could evolve to allow community members to have plots and sell their own produce.

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