Make Change Indy Rewards Community Members For Doing Sustainable Activities


By rewarding citizens in the form of Community Currency for engaging in sustainable activites, Make Change Indy is creating a sustainable ripple effect of positive change in Indianapolis on both the individual and community level. This program was developed to target community members who are on the cusp of action with the incentive they need to take progressive action in their community. Make Change Indy Rewards Community Members For Doing Sustainable ActivitiesCommunity members can record their sustainable actions by taking a picture and posting it to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #makechangeindy and filling out a simple form. Once the action is recorded, Make Change Indy will send out the physical metal Community Currency, which is free of expiration dates (pictured).

The list of sustainable opportunities are valued at three levels: 15 minutes = $2.50, 1 hour = $10, and 2 hours = $20 increasing in difficultly and time devotion. The levels are set up so one can start with the smaller manageable actins and progress to the higher valued, more time-consuming options. For example, at the lowest level someone can bike on a trail or greenway in Indianapolis, at the medium level they can use the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare, and at the highest currency level they can bike to work.

The currency can currently be redeemed at 11 local businesses ranging from The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis to The CUE Farm on Bulter’s campus, to Broad Ripple Brew Pub. The participating businesses are chosen to reflect the interests of the community, must have a sustainable component, and must make redemption easy by accepting the currency just as they would cash. There is no cost for businesses to participate and businesses are fully reimbursed by the program for all Community Currency that they redeem.

Since 2013, Make Change Indy has been crediting community members of the Mid-North neighborhood for their sustainable activities with Community Currency that can in return be spent and put back into their local community. Initially the program solely focused on sustainable water practices (and went by a different name) but has since expanded and grown in scope to reward a broad range of sustainable activities.

So far the program has exceeded all goals set. “Approximately 250 people have logged 500 hours of activities”, said Rachel Skelton, Butler University student intern at Make Change Indy. This comes out to an average of $20, or 2 hours, of Community Currency for each participant. On average a third of the distributed coins are redeemed at local businesses.

On September 16th, 2014 Make Change Indy received a $10,000 SustainIndy Community Grant, which will be used to continue and expand the program to the Near East Side and Fountain Square neighborhoods of Indianapolis beginning January 2015.

Take Action! Sign up to participate in the program as an individual or business at


Submitted by: Marisa Heiling SI2016 Intern

Marisa Heiling is a political science and biology double major at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana and plans to attend law school after graduation to study environmental law. Contact her at: to talk more about what you are doing to live a more sustainable life.