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The CareSource Foundation has awarded $10,000 to Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) for a lead pilot program. The grant will fund the outreach and analysis of a pilot project at a new Far Eastside Orchard Green Space under development in Indianapolis.

“CareSource is well aware of the devastating effects lead poisoning has on a child’s development, resulting in life-changing neurological, cognitive and behavioral problems,” said Steve Smitherman, president of CareSource Indiana. “We are proud to eliminate these risks by supporting environmental equity, improving life for current residents and future generations that will reside in these neighborhoods.”

The goals of this program are to measure the lead content in the soil of a previously abandoned lot and transform that lot into green space. Over time, measurements will be taken to track the decrease in lead levels within the soil, thus reducing neighborhood lead risk exposure for the community.

“Exposure to environmental contaminants severely impacts brain development of children in many neighborhoods, and this impact is seen disproportionately in lower income communities of color,” said Dr. Gabe Filippelli, executive director of Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute. “By engaging with community members in the process of collecting and interpreting environmental data, we can help to activate communities for positive change—including supporting the expansion of urban green spaces, which improve community health and counteract negative effects from climate change.”

With a population of more than 38,000 residents, the Far Eastside is the largest population among Indianapolis neighborhoods with a median household income that is 42% below the city average. KIB has partnered with The Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE) to lead the creation of a green space. The two organizations are working with IUPUI thanks to funding from the CareSource Foundation to understand long-term health benefits through green infrastructure.

“Our pilot will be testing the hypothesis that the intentional creation of urban green spaces in formerly abandoned or vacant lots will reduce the amount of available lead in the environment,” said Jeremy Kranowitz, president & CEO at KIB. “Should this pilot project show a demonstrable positive impact, future additional sites will be selected based on priority sites for KIB interventional work.”

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