NEXT Farm Initiative

Women's Fund addresses overlooked population

The NEXT Farm Initiative is a comprehensive solution that will provide holistic support to give emerging adult women the opportunity to achieve economic independence. Within the microcosm of a small, residential urban farm, participants will experience a living learning lab as they work together to run a small business enterprise, gain key life skills, and build personal resilience.


The target population for the NEXT Farm Initiative is emerging adult women, ages 18 to 24, who are coming home from prison and/or who are currently on supervision within the criminal justice system.


The program will consist of three phases. Each year, the program will intake four cohorts of five women each to live on the farm for the initial phase of multiyear program.

During the intensive phase (1 year), participants will live and work at The Farm while engaging in intense work on their mental health. Ninety-eight percent of women who have been incarcerated have experienced trauma prior to incarceration, and trauma is often at the root of challenges (substance abuse, unhealthy relationships, etc.) that build barriers between participants and future success. The focus of the intensive phase will be creating a stable routine, easing participants into programming, and working intensively with mental health professionals to build a solid foundation for future success.  During the transitional phase (1 year), participants will develop a plan for furthering their education and pursuing a career while receiving extensive coaching on life skills, finances, career planning and employment. They will use job shadowing and internships as a means to explore career pathways and formal education. By the end of the transitional phase, participants will move from The Farm residence to transitional satellite housing, though they will return for continued programming and coaching on-site.

In the independence-building phase (4-6 years) participants will continue to take part in coaching and programming on-site, but will be largely self-sufficient in their day-to-day lives.  During this phase, they will work to complete either a four-year academic degree or a vocational certification while maintaining steady part- or full-time employment. By the end of this phase, we expect to see participants moving to independent housing, completing their chosen educational program, transitioning to full-time employment in their chosen career path, and graduating to become a program alumnae.

The NEXT Initiative

The NEXT Initiative is a ten-year initiative of Women's Fund of Central Indiana, working to engage social entrepreneurs in creating holistic solutions to help emerging adult women move from poverty to a lifetime of economic security. Women's Fund is providing the same holistic support to the NEXT Fellows that it asks the Fellows to design for the NEXT population.  Nekoma Burcham and Alena Jones, named the first NEXT Fellows in 2016 have two years to incubate The NEXT Farm Initiative and plan to open the doors of the farm to its first cohort in2018.

If you are interested in making a contribution to the NEXT Investment Fund, please contact Jennifer Pope Baker at or 317.634.2423.


Meet the NEXT Fellows