Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB)

  • Health
  • Corporate Citizenship
  • Third Places
  • Resident Involvement
  • Neighborhoods
  • Greenways, Bikeways & Waterways
  • Design
  • Project-based Learning
  • Talent Development


Primary Contact
David Forsell
Contact via email

Mission statement

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is a 501c(3), private, not-for-profit organization, and an award-winning affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, Inc. (KAB), the national organization dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and environment in American communities. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. envisions a vibrant city, with every neighborhood landscape thriving and well, and its people empowered, mobilized, and devoted toward that vision. The result: a city defined by strong neighborhoods; inspired places; and a clean, flourishing environment.

Affiliate Projects

Affiliate projects are independent projects that are significantly aligned with the strategies of The Bicentennial Plan, and while not derived directly from the Plan 2020 planning process, have been accepted as mutually reinforcing activities.

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) is working on the following projects:

KIB Clubs

Each year, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful (KIB) engages approximately 200 students at five elementary schools through the KIB Clubs program, helping schools create outdoor classrooms and environmental clubs, working to build the next generation of environmental stewards. The program aims for participants to: have a place to experience, connect with, and better understand nature; feel a stronger connection to and desire to care for nature; adopt behaviors to care for the environment; understand the benefits of a native landscape; and understand the benefits of healthy eating and fitness and adopt healthier behaviors.

The program is a three-year partnership between KIB and local Indianapolis schools. The outdoor classrooms consist of three main components that are each supplemented with environmental education programming: a native plant garden, fruit tree orchard, and nature play area. Each space serves its own function to help improve the environment and connect children to nature so that they may enjoy its many proven benefits, while fostering an appreciation of the physical, social, and psychological value of the natural environment when they are first forming critical life values. KIB creates curricula for the teachers to utilize in the environmental clubs, even after the three-year engagement with KIB is completed. KIB is working with five local elementary schools in 2016: Eleanor Skillen #34; Center For Inquiry 2; Skiles Test Elementary; Spring Mill Elementary; and School 91.

Community Forestry

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s goal is to plant 100,000 large, one-inch caliper trees in strategic locations throughout Marion County. With your help, we can grow our city’s tree canopy and make Indy a better place to live, work, and play. KIB’s Community Forestry program gives neighbors the opportunity to plant, collaboratively raise support and care for trees in the neighborhood.

Trees create a beautiful, healthy, and safe environment for Indy residents. They improve the natural environment with their aesthetics, and they help produce clean air and water. Research also shows that trees help to reduce crime and foster more sociable neighborhoods. In inner-city neighborhoods, the greener the residence, the lower the crime rate. If your neighborhood is located within Marion County, you can apply for 20+ trees to plant in your community. With your commitment to caring for the trees, KIB will help you with the entire process–the tools, the permits, the training, and more!

Tree Tenders

Tree Tenders are volunteers who feel personally invested in KIB’s effort to plant 100,000 trees in Indianapolis and meet like-minded philanthropists and volunteers. Tree Tenders serve as urban forestry advocates and provide knowledgeable, committed volunteer support for the KIB Community Forestry team at planting projects, workshops, and on pruning days. Tree Tenders are committed to planting trees in their communities, helping KIB Community Forestry with projects across the city, and leading small groups of volunteers. Among other things, their support is vital to the success of KIB’s events and mission.

KIB provides a Tree Tender certification that includes tree basic training, planting and watering field training and pruning field training. Each Tree Tender volunteers at a minimum of three Community Forestry tree planting projects over the course of a calendar year.

KIB’s Wild Pollinator Count

In mid-July each year, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful will present the Indianapolis Wild Pollinator Count. This week-long event will engage citizen scientists in the important work of not only count pollinators–birds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects–but educate Hoosiers on the need to plant native to help people and nature thrive. Through specific events, disseminated kits, engaging talks and a city wide goal to increase wild pollinators, and in turn increase biodiversity in our neighborhoods and communities, this program will serve as a measuring tool to encourage a healthy and thriving Indianapolis.

KIB’s THRIVE 365 Corporate Engagement Suite

Through the Thrive365 program, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful has a range of opportunities for corporate groups to volunteer through special Days of Service. Companies can help create community greenspaces, create outdoor classrooms at local elementary schools, plant trees, restore native habitat along Indianapolis waterways, and more. Partnering with KIB through the Thrive365 program provides local companies wonderful opportunities to: engage with and demonstrate commitment to the local community; create team-building opportunities for employees; and allow employees and clients to serve and make a difference in the Indianapolis community, impacting local neighborhoods and residents, as well as the environment.

KIB’s IPL Project Greenspace Program

Connecting people to nature, creating vibrant places rooted in community and building lasting value by working together. Committed to creating vibrant places and communities, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s IPL Project GreenSpace is a grassroots effort that transforms vacant lots and underused spaces into natural, beautiful, and functional pocket parks and greenspaces for neighborhoods.

In the Hawthorne neighborhood, a restored 1964 Pontiac Bonneville has been planted in the ground as an important cultural symbol and centerpiece for a community-owned pocket park, called Purpose Park. Located just north of West Washington Street and Holmes Avenue, neighbors use the space for informal gathering, youth development, artistic performance, and food distributions to neighbors. In Fletcher Place, a once underutilized lot on the Cultural Trail is now Merrill Street Pocket Park, a native garden highlighted by an artful bench designed and constructed by a local artist using salvaged wood. In Ransom Place, a new pocket park uses art and nature to welcome people to learn more about the neighborhood’s rich African-American history. Community-based organizations apply to KIB for assistance to transform blighted or underutilized places into functional, beautiful, distinctive and resilient assets. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s mission is to engage diverse communities to create vibrant places that help people and nature thrive.


Established in 2002, Adopt-A-Block engages thousands of neighbors to reduce litter, combat graffiti, tackle high weeds and grass, and build community at the smallest city unit–the block! The Adopt-A-Block program energizes new neighborhood volunteers to participate in community activities. Street by street, neighbors inspire each other by setting an example of environmental and community stewardship, dramatically improving their quality of life.

Neighborhoods with high Adopt-A-Block participation are leaders in developing pocket parks, community tree plantings, and vibrant greenspace projects throughout the city. This program empowers neighbors to bring beautification and neighborhood revitalization down to the smallest unit, the block. Neighbors keep their block clean of litter on an on-going basis, and Keep Indianapolis Beautiful provides them with tools and resources to help in their efforts. Individuals volunteer as block coordinators to lead in their block’s beautification. KIB provides the tools, trees, and flowers, and neighbors beautify our city together, block by block.

The Great Indy Cleanup

Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s Great Indy Cleanup is an anti-litter program in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, and part of a national Keep America Beautiful initiative, designed to assist individuals and community groups combat heavy litter and debris that has accumulated in public spaces such as streets, alleys, greenspaces and waterways. The Great Indy Cleanup program also brings together Indianapolis residents, building community while cleaning up local neighborhoods.

From April through October, residents were able to request resources to clean up their neighborhoods, including a dumpster, trash bags, and gloves.

Habitat Restoration/Invasive Species Removal

A leader in community-based invasive plant removal and restorative native plantings, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful oversees large-scale habitat restoration efforts along Indianapolis waterways, including Pleasant Run, Fall Creek, and Little Eagle Creek. Habitat restoration projects involve removing invasive plant species such as honeysuckle and grapevine, then later replanting with native trees and plants.

With the overall goal of improving the quality of life for the Indianapolis communities surrounding these waterways, KIB’s habitat restoration work aims to positively impact both the environment, by improving water quality and reestablishing life-sustaining landscape for urban wildlife, as well as Indianapolis residents, by increasing access to the waterways and engaging multiple generations of Indianapolis residents in community-based environmental stewardship and education regarding the importance of waterways and native planting. In 2015, KIB led several invasive removal projects along Indianapolis waterways, covering approximately ten acres.

Vibrant Corridors

A civic-led, public art initiative to beautify the downtown environment and help create exciting neighborhoods and travel corridors. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, the Arts Council of Indianapolis and Downtown Indy have partnered to fund and create painted mural artwork in gateway underpasses around downtown, in a civic-led initiative called Vibrant Corridors. Vibrant Corridors transforms underpasses into beautiful community assets, employs artists, engages local businesses as suppliers, and motivates community volunteers to improve the city.

Urban Naturalists

From March through October each year, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful’s Urban Naturalists program hires up to six college students in the sciences field to plant and maintain native species in green infrastructure, including stormwater planters and rain gardens, and connects them directly to work experience and relationships with local companies and utilities that could be future employers.

To connect the team to potential future employers and “green-collar” professional experiences, KIB provides enrichment opportunities such as: a native plant seminar; a wetland restoration project led by Civil Site Group; job shadowing an Eagle Creek Naturalist and a Horticulturalist at the Indianapolis Zoo; a financial literacy session led by First Financial; and a tour of the Indiana Statehouse led by the Hoosier Environmental Council to learn about environmental policy advocacy.

Youth Tree Team (YTT)

Through the Youth Tree Team (YTT) program, Keep Indianapolis Beautiful hires more than 85 Indianapolis-area, high school-aged youth, as well as college-aged youth leaders, to water and maintain thousands of trees planted by KIB over a seven-week period each summer. The YTT program not only helps KIB with its tree maintenance needs, but also provides this diverse group of local Indianapolis youth with meaningful opportunities for summer employment, enrichment, and education–teaching them life and leadership skills, about the environment, caring for their community, and the potential and benefits of urban greenspaces. A competitive application process allows KIB to provide this opportunity to a diverse group of talented Indianapolis youth each year, about half of whom are eligible for the free/reduced-price lunch program at school.

Eight teams each work together to water, mulch, stake, weed, and collect litter at recent KIB tree planting sites. A dedicated pruning team of four youth learn more specialized tree pruning skills. Each day, youth receive daily exercise, learn how to identify tree species and care for trees, learn leadership skills, make friendships, gain teamwork experience, and spend their summer doing meaningful, fun activities.

Along with daily work activities throughout the summer, the youth participate in weekly enrichment activities including networking with green-collar professionals, learning financial management skills, and a college campus tour. Special group opportunities throughout the summer include a rafting trip on the White River, a high ropes course, and a mid-summer wilderness camping trip, which all contribute to youth development and relationship building. Though Youth Tree Team is about maintaining trees, it focuses on developing the potential of Indianapolis youth, providing them with safe, reliable, and important employment, while playing a part to protect the local environment.