Cheria Caldwell is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana where she attended the Indianapolis Public School system. She later went to Indiana State University and obtained her Bachelors in criminology.
With the goal of working with communities to create positive changes in blighted neighborhoods, Cheria enrolled in graduate school at Ball State University to study urban and regional planning. Through her course studies, Cheria had the opportunity to gain extensive experience working with residents, community stakeholders, local government, non-profits and grassroots organizations.
Cheria is an avid bicyclist and led the local launch of Red Bike Green, a cycling organization that focuses on bicycle advocacy within the African American community. As the program manager for Love to Ride Indy, Cheria coordinates a four-week bike challenge sponsored by the Knozone initiative.
Cheria’s desire to evoke positive change through redevelopment and revitalization within communities has led her to Groundwork Indy!, where she is currently working alongside youth, residents and stakeholders in the city’s Northwest area.
What is your name?
How long have you lived in Indy?
I was born and raised in Indianapolis, however, I studied abroad in Costa Rica for four months.
Why have you focused your career on the nonprofit sector?
I have focused my career in the nonprofit sector because I prefer to see the direct impact of programs and projects that I work on. People and community are important to me.
What would you say to another young professional considering a nonprofit job?
I would say to make sure you have a passion and drive for the community or cause you're considering working for. The nonprofit sector is multifaceted. Always listen before taking any sort of action. Relationship building is imperative. Empowering the people you will serve is key.
If you could learn a brand new skill, what would it be?
I would love to become fluent in Spanish and French. I would also like to become proficient in geographic information systems software and videography.
If you were an inanimate object, which would you be and why?
I would be a bicycle. Cycling has transformed my life in the last few years. I helped launch the Red Bike Green chapter here in Indy and I'm currently the Program Manager for Love to Ride Indy
What do you hope to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
I hope to create a foundation that provides scholarships and funding to inner city youth for education and programming. I would also like to start an urban planning firm that works directly with residents and community leaders on strategies to empower, revitalize and transform their communities and local economy.
Want to support Cheria's work?
Take the Love to Ride Indy challenge! Register for free and get on that bike! The challenge ends Oct. 25, but don’t let that put the brakes on your fun. Biking is a fun, healthy and sustainable way to get to know your city. Keep pedaling!