Quality of Place – Pathways to Progress: Improving Access to Public Spaces and Amenities

origin park tour
Scott Martin, former executive director with River Heritage Conservancy, shows the CFSI Board of Directors the future site of Origin Park.

To residents, it will come as no surprise that Southern Indiana’s amenities and great quality of life are attracting new growth and opportunities as more businesses and families are calling Clark and Floyd Counties home.

To capitalize on this momentum, the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana will designate a portion of its annual grantmaking funds to Quality of Place – Pathways to Progress Grants. This annual support will provide for initiatives aimed at improving our region’s quality of place.

Pathways to Progress Grants will focus on projects designed to serve people with the least access to safe, high-quality public spaces and amenities, typically those who have barriers of some sort to full enjoyment of our public parks, venues, and amenities – whether that barrier is low income; transportation or mobility challenges; or physical and/or mental differences. When our public spaces, venues and amenities are more open and welcoming to even our most vulnerable citizens, our communities are more welcoming and attractive to all residents, tourists, and employers, which attracts business and economic development.

For these most vulnerable populations, the Foundation will fund nonprofit initiatives designed to improve:

  • Both real and perceived safety of existing amenities (greenspaces, parks, playgrounds, etc.)
  • Safe and affordable access to the amenities (trails, public/shared transit, etc.)
  • Environmental quality and sustainability of those amenities
  • Use of the areas to increase physical activity – which will improve health outcomes, such as obesity and other health risks

In May 2021, the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, in partnership with River Heritage Conservancy, announced its first major quality of place grant to move the needle on community access. A $100,000 grant was awarded to start their first project as part of the new Origin Park – the Silver Creek Blueway.

Located at Blackiston Mill, the updated area will allow paddlers to launch canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards into Silver Creek. Paddlers of all experience levels will soon be able to travel from Blackiston Mill Road all the way to the Ohio River, a beautiful 4.5-mile stretch that will eventually access Origin Park’s Quarry Pond.

Scott Martin, former executive director with River Heritage Conservancy said, “The spectacular natural places found in Southern Indiana defines our home community. We are so appreciative of the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana for investing in ways to make these special places more accessible and enjoyable for all.”

A regular, annual grant cycle for Quality of Place grants, which awards grants up to $150,000, opened July 1, 2021.

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