In the spring of 2011, the IUPUI Solution Center was given the opportunity to partner with the Super Bowl Legacy Project, resulting in IUPUI launching a cross-discipline program of targeted engagement. Aimed at increasing student and faculty involvement in the Near Eastside of Indianapolis, Visual Communication Design graduate students were the first group to begin working on the project.
Work on the Near Eastside Legacy Initiative (NELI) began last fall, when first year Visual Communication Design graduate students began working to better understand the Near Eastside. Using specific people-centered design research methods, we began reaching out to community members in order to identify and define specific problem areas. Combining our passion for design with the passion of those people working diligently to improve the Near Eastside, we have been able to gather information and pinpoint categories for improvement.
After having worked for several months collecting and analyzing information about the Near Eastside, we are now beginning the process of defining and selecting specific problem areas. At this point in the design process, we have identified problem categories and are focusing our attention on issues of communication and engagement within the community.
With our work serving as the primary example of student participation and involvement in the project, NELI was recently awarded a grant of $75,000 from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. In addition, the IUPUI Solution Center has agreed to match support of $75,000 from its Community Venture Fund, bringing the impact of the initiative over $250,000.
Throughout the process, design students have gained not only insight into the Near Eastside, its history, and its residents, we have also developed awareness as designers. To showcase what we have learned so far, VC Design Graduate Students have been invited to present our work at the 23rd Annual Joseph Taylor Symposium on February 29 at the IUPUI Campus Center. Presented by the IU School of Liberal Arts, in association with the Department of History, the Taylor Symposium focuses on how IUPUI students are working to shape Indianapolis.