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Lilly Endowment Inc. was founded in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. for the “promotion and support of religious, educational or charitable purposes.” Throughout its history, the Endowment has sought to nurture the human spirit, intellect and character. When once asked what the main purpose of the Endowment should be, Eli Lilly said, “I hope we could help improve the character of the American people.”

Our founders viewed character and human development in the context of community and encouraged unselfish concern for the welfare of others. The value they placed on philanthropy, which was in large part motivated by their religious faith, was expressed by Eli Lilly when he said: “Owing everything we are to the past and present generations, each of us must be willing to give unstinted help to others.”

Special Announcements

$100 million grant to National Urban League will help improve the lives of African Americans in Indianapolis
With support from a $100 million grant from Lilly Endowment, the National Urban League has announced the newly created Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative, a place-based effort that will provide unique funding opportunities to address challenges facing Indianapolis’ African American community. The initiative is a collaboration between the National Urban League, the Indianapolis Urban League and the African American Coalition of Indianapolis. Learn More

Lilly Endowment COVID-19 Updates
As the challenges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic evolve, updates about our grantmaking and how the pandemic may affect our initiatives will be posted here.

Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis Initiative

Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis Initiative

Grants are being awarded to 28 Indianapolis-based organizations collaborating with a wide variety of community partners and local employers through Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis, an Endowment initiative designed to improve the livelihoods of individuals and families facing complex and varied challenges associated with poverty and financial insecurity.

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Charting the Future for Indiana's Colleges and Universities

Charting the Future for Indiana's Colleges and Universities

Through its three-phase initiative, Charting the Future For Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, Lilly Endowment has awarded grants totaling more than $138 million to help the state’s 38 colleges and universities  advance strategic planning and implementation efforts to address key challenges and opportunities.

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Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative

Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative

Through the Religion and Cultural Institutions Initiative, Lilly Endowment has awarded grants totaling more than $43 million to museums and other cultural institutions across the United States to develop exhibitions and educational programs that fairly and accurately portray the role of religion in the U.S and around the world.

View Grantee List