A nonprofit community center could be coming to Shelbyville in the next few years after community leaders met at Echo Effect on Tuesday.

Representatives from numerous local nonprofit organizations met to discuss and learn more about the idea with Major Health Partners Director of Behavioral Health and Social Determinants of Health Stephen Black, and representatives from The Nonprofit Centers, a consulting organization based out of Denver.

Black, who joined MHP to develop a behavioral health service line, learned of The Clearinghouse, an organization in Madison that helps low-income families make sustainable changes in their lives, through Blue River Community Foundation Executive Director Jennifer Jones.

Jones attended a conference at the Clearinghouse a year ago and after Black learned of the facility, he too, went there to learn more.

Black recently led a community survey that enlightened the challenges within the community. The Shelby County Community Health Needs Assessment survey found that 50 percent of Shelbyville households and 38 percent of households in the county cannot pay for basic needs such as transportation, utilities and health care.

“When you think about those families being in such need, and even though we have the resources all over the place, how do we make it easier for them to get those resources?” Black said Tuesday morning following the discussion. “How do we make it easier for (nonprofit organizations) to work together?”

A nonprofit community center could be the answer.

The center would house multiple local nonprofit organizations, making it easier for residents in need of services to have better access.

(The Community Health Needs Assessment) tells the story of this community that would be well-supported by this,” Black said. “The CHNA shows us the need is without question there. We’ve had anecdotal information but now we have actual data behind it.”

One perk to creating the center is the potential for overhead reduction for those organizations that move into the facility.

Twenty-five percent of a nonprofit’s budget goes to overhead, and by sharing space, that would allow more money to go toward the residents being served, he said.

“Then you have collaboration around solving some of the really difficult problems we have, whether it’s transportation, housing, really complicated and challenging issues if we’re co-located and collaborating under one roof, we can take a step further in getting upstream from those challenges.”

As part of the center, Black would also like to see the community create a more centralized, robust food pantry.

Tuesday’s meeting at Echo Effect allowed nonprofit leaders to collaborate ideas on what the goals should be, and how success should be defined in the next five years.

Based on the community survey, Black said his goal was to promote awareness of what is already available.

The survey found that residents do not always know where to go or how to receive those resources, he said.

“We actually have a significant amount of resources within the county,” he said. “It’s just getting people in contact with those resources. If we can create a center with a navigator capability where there are people there that are ready and able to walk with the family and help them get those resources and coordinate that, I think that’s a major win for our community.”

The goal is to help families and individuals reach a place in their lives where they no longer need assistance.

“The last few years, we’ve seen it doesn’t take a whole lot for us to get to that place where any of us need extra help,” he said. “If we can help a family get through a season and then they aren’t in need of that, and then they’re able to help another family, then that’s a flywheel effect and it’s a real community improvement, is what starts happening.”

Non-profit organization representatives who attended Tuesday’s meeting will be receiving another survey on Wednesday.

This survey will gauge the interest level of each organization in being involved – whether as being one housed in the community center or being affiliated to it.

The Clearinghouse has eight agencies housed inside the facility, but around 100 partner with it. Shelbyville could create a similar setup.

The Nonprofit Centers’ consulting process is expected to be completed this Fall. From there, Black said he hopes to establish 501c3 status, create a board of directors, provide financial information on what it will take to make the center a possibility and find investment partners.

He estimated that the center could become operational in two years.

Black told those in attendance that he considered the gathering “a really encouraging morning.”

“More than anything, what I want to get across is if this is going to do anything well, it’s going to be serving the people who need it,” he said “Not serving my vision, not serving anybody else’s vision. We’re going to look to the community to say what are the needs of the community? Let’s make sure it’s oriented to the community that needs it.”