Giving grants: City committee aids nonprofits


Nickel Plate Arts Director Aili McGill pauses near art displays in Meyer Najem. (Photos by Sadie Hunter)

Nickel Plate Arts Director Aili McGill has a goal to bring together arts in the area and make them more available for the public. The City of Fishers is helping her do so.

Fishers recently awarded grants to Nickel Plate Arts and 12 other nonprofits through its new  Nonprofit Grant Committee, consisting of council members Brad DeReamer, Pete Peterson and Cecilia Coble.

Nickel Plate Arts received a $45,000 grant for its multi-fold proposal.

“Our proposal to them was that we help consolidate and bring together some of the arts resources that exist in the city and help apply some of the knowledge we’ve accumulated the past five years about community development through the arts in Fishers initiatives, overall,” McGill said.

This year, Nickel Plate Arts also will use the grant to establish a better system for community-wide exhibits.

The Nonprofit Grant Committee chose not to fund Fishers Freedom Festival this year in order to allow for more funding for other community initiatives. Mayor Scott Fadness participates in a past Fishers Freedom Festival with his wife Aunna and son Lincoln. (File photo)

“We will pull in inputs from area restaurants and businesses that display art as well as integrate art in City Hall and schedule for exhibits at Meyer Najem,” McGill said. “We want to help everybody interested in displaying art to share resources, get good artists in there, have a diversity of visual art going into public spaces and really be able to communicate to the public about where to go to see visual art.”

Another goal for Nickel Plate Arts is to collaborate with Fishers Music Works and Fishers Arts Council quarterly on new projects they can invest in.

“We are still trying to figure out how to best use that money to really enrich the lives of Fishers citizens,” McGill said. “This is brand new. It had been part of our plan to expand our relationship with the City of Fishers, so we had planned to ask (for help) this year, and we were actually excited to see the new application process made it easier for us to structure and ask what matched what the city is looking for. The city took the first step in articulating what they want from nonprofits, so we were able to take action on this goal of ours, anyway. It has led to what I think is going to be a really cool collaboration for us.”

Grants weren’t limited to just Fishers nonprofits. Noblesville-based Janus Developmental Services received a $10,000 grant.

In 2016, Janus initiated the Companion Connections Program, which provides high school students in special education classes opportunities to come to Janus and participate in its life skills programs. Debbie Laird, senior vice president of development at Janus, said the Fishers grant will provide funding for a new program regarding Companion Connections.

“This grant will provide funding for a new program giving current Janus participants an opportunity to mentor and create friendships with high school students who will soon be transitioning from school to day services and/or community employment,” Laird wrote in an email to Current. “The project coordinates the expertise of high school teachers, aides, Janus staff, participants, the high school student and their families as they explore and implement a transition plan for the student.” 

Laird said with government budget cuts, nonprofits might lose funding and force them to look for funding elsewhere, and that the Nonprofit Grant Committee can aid nonprofits in that way.

“Without this type of financial support, nonprofits will be forced to limit the number of programs and participants we are able to serve,” Laird wrote. 

Other grant recipients include Ascent 121; Cherish; Conner Prairie Museum; Geist Half Marathon; Hamilton County Leadership Academy; Hamilton County Youth Assistance for Fishers Youth Assistance Program; Hamilton Southeastern School Foundation; Spaceport Exploration; Youth Mentoring Initiative; City of Fishers Neighborhood Matching Grant; and City of Fishers Tree Matching Grant.

For more, visit

Eliminating Freedom Fest funds allows for more nonprofit benefit 

In a previous story by Current in Fishers, Brad DeReamer, one of the council members on the Nonprofit Grant Committee, said the committee chose to eliminate funding the Fishers Freedom Festival so that it could support other nonprofits directly affecting the community. The festival typically received half of the nonprofit grant budget and in-kind services.

“Some of the thinking comes from that if you can grant money to more individuals that help more people in the city, that’s what I think we should be doing,” DeReamer said.

Fishers Parks and Recreation Dept. is planning to host an annual Fourth of July festival. For more on the Fishers Freedom Festival’s discontinuation, visit


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