Special Project Grants Dashboard


Special Project Grants

Grantee:  Oaklawn
Project:  Capital Campaign for the Future of Mental Health in St. Joseph County
Amount:  $250,000
Date Approved:  11/15/2022
Final Report Submitted:  10/3/2023

Oaklawn Psychiatric Center embarked on a $5 million capital project that transforms the way they provide mental health and substance use services to St. Joseph County Residents. Oaklawn is now the home of open access, crisis mobile response, a pharmacy, a primary care clinic, and over 240 staff members at their South Bend campus. Their current building is 170 years old, and has been retrofitted many times. This grant helped Oaklawn create a more renovated and functional space to meet the growing demand for, and expansion of, their services.

Oaklawn’s new building allows for a space that provides dignity to those in service and assures their professionals that they have come to the right place to work. In addition, it allows for a more integrated dynamic with a pharmacy and primary care space, as well as the ability to run a walk-in clinic and crisis care center. This building, and expansions, allowed Oaklawn to move to a more efficient and caring service model for those in St. Joseph County who need access to mental health and substance abuse services. Oaklawn continues to see an increase in services through their Open Access Center and finished with a 30% increase in completed intakes at the time of report submission. Oaklawn also indicates that with the new building came the opportunity for more group spaces, so individuals can get a second appointment within 14 days, and they have seen a 44% increase in those coming back for second appointments at the time of report submission.

The biggest challenge that Oaklawn presented was getting their elevators approved which pushed back the opening of the building by four months. On September 29, 2023, Oaklawn held their ribbon cutting which was widely supported by patients and staff.

Personal Story:

“Since May 1, 2022, we have served 4,188 St. Joseph County residents through our walk-in program, which is just one of our programs. They are all new clients. The ability to have a building that can handle that capacity and give our staff the space they need to do treatment is immeasurable. And the ability to get people on the same day or the next day is saving lives!”


Grantee:  Transformation Ministries
Project:  Deeper Campaign
Amount:  $125,000
Date Approved:  11/15/2022
Final Report Submitted:  12/22/2023

Transformation Ministries received $125,000 toward the Deeper Campaign, the renovation of a new facility at 1101 King Street in South Bend, to enable the pursuit of generational change through deeper community engagement. The goals for the new building were to strengthen and grow existing programs, start new programs, and have sufficient space for all programs to operate simultaneously.

Within three months of entering the new space, they were able to expand capacity from 15 to 36 students in City Light Kids (grades K-5), 65 to 75 students in Iron Sharpens Iron (middle & high school students), and from 100 to approximately 250 people at the last family dinner. At the time of report submission, they are providing 111 students with leadership training, mentorship, academic support, nightly meals, and a safe environment to thrive. The renovated building has designated space for academic enrichment and some open spaces to expand programming in the future. A full-size gym provides ample space for students to play year-round but can also seat over 400 people for quarterly family dinners and other community events.

Transformation Ministries was able to raise the initial $4.5 million required for the project, plus nearly $1.5 million in additional funds to pay for changes in the building design and unexpected construction costs due to increasing inflation. A significant number of community organizations have expressed interest in partnering with Transformation Ministries, including the Notre Dame Trio Program, La Casa De Amistad, Girls on the Run, Gear Up South Bend, Goodwill, Triple P Parenting, and Bethel University Exchange.

One of the greatest challenges during the building process was deciding how to design a building that would meet current programming needs while also taking into account the needs for the next 10-20 years.


Grantee:  Camp Millhouse, Inc.
Project:  Camp Lodge Campaign
Amount:  $100,000
Date Approved:  4/19/2022
Final Report Submitted:  7/17/2022

Camp Millhouse received $100,000 to rebuild their lodge, which was 82 years old and had been deteriorating and needed urgent repairs to remain functional. The lodge is the heart of the camp, where meals are cooked and served, staff have their lounge, and campers and staff gather for group activities on rainy days. As an organization that serves 300-330 individuals with disabilities annually and 500-100 additional campers through other programming, having a functional lodge is imperative. Without the lodge, the camp would struggle to carry out its mission effectively.

During the rebuilding project of Camp Millhouse’s lodge, several challenges were encountered. Construction delays became a significant hurdle as small omissions in the state submission and changes requested by the local building department pushed the construction start date from the planned beginning of September 2022 to the end of November 2022. This had implications for the overall timeline of the project, causing some concerns about meeting the targeted completion date. Additionally, unforeseen plumbing and structural issues surfaced during the course of the construction.

Despite these obstacles, the project eventually succeeded, largely due to the dedication and hard work of the contractor and their staff. The challenges underscored the complexities of managing a construction project, particularly when dealing with an older building and the need to ensure accessibility for individuals with disabilities. The new facility was completed in six months instead of the originally planned nine and opened for summer 2023 campers. The lodge’s improved amenities, especially the spacious and well-equipped bathrooms, had a life-changing impact on campers and staff, significantly enhancing their experience at the camp for many years to come.


Grantee:  LOGAN
Project: SLP & BCBA in UWSJC Southeast Community Center’s Early Learning Center
Amount:  $60,000
Date Approved:  4/19/2022
Final Report Submitted:  6/30/2023

LOGAN received $60,000 to implement the SLP (Speech-Language Pathologist) and BCBA (Board-Certified Behavior Analyst) program at the United Way of St. Joseph County Southeast Community Center’s Early Learning Center. This partnership aimed to address the lack of access to high-quality therapy services for families and children in the community, particularly those facing speech, language, and behavior disabilities. The program provided licensed therapy services directly to the clients in the targeted areas, including southeast South Bend, northwest South Bend, Mishawaka, and Walkerton, ensuring early-intervention education, childcare, health, and youth programs were readily available where the clients reside.

The organization faced several significant challenges during the implementation of the program. One of the primary hurdles was the difficult hiring climate in the SLP field, making it challenging to find qualified and suitable candidates to fill the crucial positions of SLP and BCBA. This resulted in significant delays in staffing the program with the required specialists. Additionally, the project encountered changes in partnerships with key organizations, most notably with Head Start, which moved out of the Neighborhood Center due to rental cost issues. This unexpected change necessitated adjustments to the program’s plans and collaborations. Furthermore, the organization faced shifts in leadership at the United Way, with the resignations of key personnel, affecting the coordination and support for the program. Despite these obstacles, the organization remained determined to fulfill its mission of providing high-quality therapy services to underserved children and families in the community.

Despite the challenges faced, LOGAN achieved several major successes. The program made significant progress in bringing much-needed therapy services to underserved children and families directly in their community. The program also supported early childhood education teachers in the community, providing them with much-needed support and improved work environments. This impact is especially significant in a challenging landscape for the profession, characterized by high turnover rates due to underpayment and inadequate support for teachers in childcare centers. Another notable success was the program’s ability to adapt to the changing circumstances and form new partnerships. Despite the changes with Head Start, the organization continued its services at their new location and prepared to work with El Campito upon their move into the Southeast Community Center at the time of report submission.


Grantee:  FaithIN (Faith in Indiana)
Project: Building Black Organizing Power in St. Joseph County
Amount:  $50,000
Date Approved:  11/15/2022
Final Report Submitted:  11/28/2023

The St. Joseph County chapter of Faith in Indiana received the first of two installments of their $50,000 grant to deepen their investment in Black grassroots organizing power by building new relationships and cultivating Black faith-based institutions. By working with partners, Faith in Indiana leaders sought to strengthen the public mandate to ensure that individuals in crisis receive help and housing, not handcuffs.

St. Joseph County’s Faith in Indiana led an unprecedented coalition to secure $100 million in mental health crisis response funding for a new mental health crisis system across Indiana, which includes helping support the initial efforts to bring the Oaklawn Crisis Response Center in St. Joseph County. These funds allow communities in St. Joseph County and across the state to focus on harm reduction and improve their responses to the opioid epidemic. Similarly, Faith in Indiana, along with partners at Notre Dame and the Catholic Worker Center, secured more than $2.5 million to invest into programs meant to alleviate mental health and homelessness, including $1.5 million to keep the Motels4Now program running through 2024 and $1 million to renovate South Bend’s upcoming weather amnesty site in the winter months.

Faith in Indiana trained 190 people through 33 events and 3 public actions and media events that grew their list of supporters to 1,502 people. Two leaders attended their week-long organizer intensive to learn the skills of grassroots organizing as part of their “Organize the Midwest” training program, and one went on to become the first Black Female City Counselor in South Bend’s 5th district. Six Black institutions formed a new Black Church Coalition to deepen leadership of Black congregations and organizations in their collective efforts. Their first step is to launch a community listening campaign that aims to engage 250 leaders in launch training. Faith in Indiana employs a Race Class Narrative, a research-backed communications strategy meant to dampen racial polarization and bring people together by naming shared values. These communications promote a preventive rather than punitive approach to crime and dampen the partisan polarization often heard in conversations about public safety. This year their chapter generated 87 earned media stories that reached a viewing audience of over 24 million.

St. Joseph County’s Faith in Indiana reports that their biggest challenge in 2023 was the collaboration with various legislators who have differing viewpoints on the services that they are trying to promote. However, despite this challenge, Faith in Indiana is inspired in their work to build organizing infrastructure needed to achieve racial justice in Indiana, through criminal justice reform, voter engagement, and beyond.


Grantee:  Near Northwest Neighborhood, Inc.
Project:  Community Center Building Upgrades
Amount:  $25,000
Date Approved:  4/19/2022
Final Report Submitted:  4/10/2023

The Near Northwest Neighborhood (NNN) received $25,000 to be used on building repairs for the neighborhood’s Community Center. The building has served the NNN and community since the organization moved in in 1997, offering needed meeting space, event space, and residential and commercial tenant and partner space. The Community Center hosts an average of over 800 meetings and events yearly. The building needed important repairs and upgrades, including a flat roof, parking lot repaving, exterior tuck-pointing and painting, security and AV upgrades, as well as HVAC efficiency upgrades.

The biggest challenge NNN faced during the project was securing funding to fully complete the project. The Leighton Foundation supported the project with a $30,000 and the organization was able to secure an additional $75,000 elsewhere and continued to look for more opportunities. Another significant challenge was completing the project on time. Because NNN had to secure other funding sources and found it preferable to work with the warm weather, the timeline was extended.

Success of the project was measured through each of the goals that NNN was able to reach during the renovation. The organization was able to complete the roof replacement where needed, and schedule masonry repair and building repainting for spring/summer 2023. Wireless internet was also secured as well as security improvements. Additionally, NNN completed the expansion of solar array on the community center but was not able to identify adequate funding to increase the efficiency of HVAC systems.

Personal Story:

When a community member approached us and asked if our community center was available for the Saturday after Thanksgiving as well as Christmas Eve, we responded that it was, and as usual, asked what his hopes were. He said simply, “I want to create a community space on those days to celebrate for those that feel left out, or new, or may not have a lot of plans.”  And that was that. We handed Ned a set of keys, and he reached out and sought both volunteer cooks, and sent out invitations. He asked neighbors to play some music. And as “simple” as that – for two special days, a true community free offer was held and given.  We believe that having a community center as a shared resource to our community can be a hard thing to “quantify”, but a very easy thing to understand the value of.


Grantee:  Broadway Christian Parish United Methodist Church
Project:  Hospitality Project
Amount:  $24,000
Date Approved:  4/19/2022
Final Report Submitted:  4/27/2023

Broadway Christian Parish United Methodist Church sought to improve its facilities for its hospitality program for homeless and low-income people by adding men’s and women’s handicapped accessible bathrooms that include additional shower and grooming stations. This constitutes Phase 2 of improvements planned and made to their hospitality environment several years ago before the pandemic. In their work with the homeless over the years, they have found that a place to take care of personal hygiene is one of the most useful kinds of assistance to provide, along with food, emergency clothing, mail service, transportation, and help with paperwork needed to get other kinds of assistance.

During 2022, their one existing shower saw an average usage of 102 people a month during their hospitality hours. Breakfasts served during this time averaged 906 participants a month. Given the number of visitors to their hospitality room each month, there is an increase in shower participants with the two additional showers/grooming stations.

Originally, the organization did not anticipate doing much with the existing bathroom/shower facility. Upon closer examination, they decided that it merited new fixtures and shower stalls as well, giving them three new bathroom/shower facilities. Also, the original architect was unavailable, and they enlisted a new architect, Brendan Crumlich. Accordingly, there was some delay in bringing the new architect up to speed and applying for the necessary permits. There was also some delay in waiting for warmer weather in the spring to turn off the boiler so the old radiators could be taken out. The project has successfully been completed and will better serve Broadway’s clients for years to come.


Grantee:  enFocus, Inc.
Project:  Carbon Sustainability Pilot Program
Amount:  $20,000
Date Approved:  4/19/2022
Final Report Submitted:  6/30/2023

EnFocus received $20,000 to carry out the Carbon Sustainability Pilot Program, a project aimed at addressing climate change and carbon sustainability at the local level in South Bend. Guided by Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s Carbon Neutral 2050 (CN2050) Plan, the initiative focused on promoting housing sustainability and empowering residents to make energy-efficient home upgrades. The program’s main objectives were to define the current state of carbon emissions in the area and develop and implement pilot-level projects that align with the CN2050 Plan, making it urgent, innovative, actionable, and accessible for the community.

The Carbon Sustainability Pilot Program achieved several notable successes throughout its implementation. One key accomplishment was the development of a comprehensive current state analysis and strategic planning effort, filling the gap of a detailed plan with actionable pilots for energy-efficient home upgrades. This initiative empowered residents of South Bend to actively participate in reducing their carbon footprint and promoting sustainability. The project also succeeded in establishing strong community buy-in and support from a wide range of stakeholders. Positive reception was received from sectors including home builders, City officials, homeowners, renters, real estate agents, and contractors. This enthusiastic response demonstrated the project’s potential for long-term sustainability and impact within the community. Furthermore, the program forged a valuable partnership with Inclusive Prosperity Capital, a nonprofit investment fund designing loan programming for the Indiana green bank. This collaboration provided a head start in designing programming around low-interest loans for green home improvements, which would contribute to making energy-efficient upgrades more accessible and affordable for South Bend residents. enFocus will be able to request that Inclusive Prosperity sets South Bend up with a local lender in time for its “Smart E” loan program to roll out in early 2024.

The project faced several significant challenges throughout its duration. The foremost obstacle was related to funding and timing. The project relied on federal funding from the Inflation Reduction Act, specifically point-of-sale rebates aimed at empowering homeowners to make energy-efficient upgrades. However, the ever-changing timeline for the rebate rollout created complexities in coordinating funding, program partnerships, and marketing efforts, leading to uncertainties in planning. The initial launch date of Fall 2023 was later postponed to Spring 2024, causing further challenges in aligning resources effectively. Another major challenge arose from policy restrictions during Phase 1. The project’s efforts to introduce a more stringent energy code within the enforced residential building code faced limitations imposed by the State of Indiana. Consequently, the recommended strategies for influencing new construction mainly relied on non-mandated policy changes, affecting the scope and impact of certain pilot projects. While the program also achieved successes in the discovery and design processes, ensuring smooth execution and securing buy-in and funding for follow-on projects proved challenging. Effective coordination and resource allocation were essential to realize the planned initiatives fully.

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