Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance fosters meaningful partnerships with many Indiana-based charitable organizations. By supporting these organizations through donations, contributions or volunteerism, we’re helping the underserved of the very communities we live and work in.
The Urban League of Northwest Indiana (Urban League of NWI) was founded more than 75 years ago with the purpose of providing equal housing, employment and educational opportunities for all citizens in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties. Their mission is to improve the quality of life of students, families and businesses in the community. The Urban League of NWI is one of approximately 100 Urban League chapters in the U.S., all of which are under the umbrella of the National Urban League.
Dr. Vanessa Allen McCloud, affectionately referred to as “Dr. V,” was named the Urban League of NWI’s president and CEO in 2010. She’s earned multiple degrees including a master’s in education and a doctorate in educational leadership and has parlayed her knowledge and experience into serving as a keynote speaker, professional development trainer and workshop facilitator as the president and CEO of the chapter.
There are two additional Urban League chapters within the state of Indiana, including the Urban League of Indianapolis and the Urban League of Fort Wayne. Due to unique community demographics, the chapters don’t collaborate, but “we all hold true to the focus areas of the National Urban League, which include education, economic empowerment, health, wellness and social justice. We all assist, just in different ways,” says Dr. McCloud.
“The goal for each of us is still the same. Our primary mission for all urban leagues is to provide services to people who are disenfranchised, people who need assistance. That premise always stays at the top,” she adds.
It may be surprising to learn that the National Urban League, which now includes more than 100 chapters in the United States, was founded in 1910 by a black man, Edmund Haynes, and a Caucasian woman, Ruth Standish Baldwin. “Many people don’t know this. It was so important to them that they teamed up more than 100 years ago to focus on social injustice,” says Dr. McCloud.
Today, the mission of The Urban League of Northwest Indiana is to “promote, encourage and enhance services to improve social, educational, and economic conditions of African Americans and other minority groups in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties.”
The Urban League is behind the scenes helping people become qualified for a home loan, a job and other targeted services such as rental or food assistance during hard times.
“The urban league is action oriented in providing the services that people need in order to improve their quality of life. Whether you’re looking for a job or training, need resume help, housing or rental assistance, you can contact us,” says Dr. McCloud.
The Urban League of NWI provides multiple services to the community and hosts multiple annual events in their core areas of education, financial stability and diversity and inclusion awareness.
Diversity and Inclusion Symposium at Valparaiso University on May 17, 2022
“It’s a great opportunity to have multiple workshops in a day where people from various sectors gather and have courageous conversations about important issues, like racial stereotyping and implicit bias,” shares Dr. McCloud.
The event brings together groups, such as administrators, teachers and police, to make positive changes within their organizations and learn how to increase diversity in the workplace. Expected attendance at the event is approximately 400 people, including up to 200 students who’ll be bussed in to be included in these important conversations. For registration information, please call 219-887-9621.
“I commend the leadership, the organizations that have taken the lead in acknowledging the need to increase diversity, and we start these conversations in a safe space,” adds Dr. McCloud.
Later in the year on October 19, the Urban League of NWI will hold the Diversity and Inclusion Awards luncheon which is the annual recognition of peer nominated individuals and organizations who embody diversity and inclusion in the community.
Scholarship Fair on October 18, 2022
More than 1,200 students have been offered full or partial scholarships and onsite admission to colleges and universities nationwide during the Urban League of Northwest Indiana’s Scholarship Fair which helps reduce the financial burden of college tuition. Many students are admitted on the spot based on their SAT or ACT scores. Additionally, universities and colleges from all over the U.S. offer full or partial scholarships in a one-stop shop environment, allowing students and parents to visit with multiple schools in one location.
The Urban League of NWI is also offering up to $80,000 in scholarships this year from donors alone. Part of those funds will be used to assist adults who have left education and are returning to school, whether that be for college or earning a certificate.
Scholastic Achievement Awards Luncheon on May 25, 2022
Scholarship fair recipients receive their scholarship checks and are recognized for their academic achievements before school administrators and student peers. Additionally, the Urban League of NWI invites any students with a 3.0 GPA or higher to attend the Scholastic Achievement Awards event and acknowledges their academic accomplishments with a certificate of excellence.
The Urban League of NWI, like other non-profits, faced many challenges during the last two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While they are excited to be getting back to their annual in-person events in 2022, they continue to meet their community members where they are.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were mailing out grocery gift cards because everything had been shut down. We couldn’t see anyone in person, but people were losing their jobs on the spot and were in need. Or we were providing rental assistance for those people. So many are living paycheck to paycheck, their month being longer than their money. At the Urban League, we want to help those who have a need. That’s what we do.”
While Dr. McCloud acknowledges the challenges that COVID brought to the world, she shares that there is a continuing need for more assistance.
“I’d really like to encourage people to support non-profit organizations—whether it be an Urban League, a food bank, a domestic violence shelter, or the Boys and Girls Club. There are so many good organizations out there doing the work that can sometimes be invisible,” says Dr. McCloud, “and there are so many people who need help.”