During the past extraordinarily challenging year for the nation and the world, Lilly Endowment sought to help meet as quickly as possible compelling needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to further important causes in its three areas of grantmaking: community development, education and religion. Its 2020 annual report, entitled Now and for the Future, portrays a few of the significant efforts the Endowment supported throughout the year.

“In reflecting on 2020, it would have been easy to be overwhelmed by the challenges it presented for individuals, communities, our state and country and the world at large,” writes N. Clay Robbins, the Endowment’s chairman, president and CEO, in the report’s executive message. “My colleagues and I, however, are blessed by the privilege we have to learn about and help support the multitude of individuals and organizations of good will – like those featured in this annual report – that passionately and thoughtfully mobilize to help others in need and foster a more just and equitable future for all.”

The report, which includes a complete list of grants approved in 2020, is available here. In addition, the Endowment is issuing a supplemental report, COVID-19: Helping the Helpers, which highlights the nearly $208 million in grants awarded in 2020 to respond to urgent pandemic-related needs.

Read the Executive Message

There’s such a hopefulness to this work as a result of the contributions that the Endowment has made to help support it. It’s really spurred and catalyzed not just our work but a tremendous amount of work across the state among individuals, foundations, United Ways, and others who weren’t really in the conversation prior to the Endowment’s substantial investment in making early learning a priority.

Maureen Weber
Early Learning Indiana
Community Development

Enhancing quality of life in Indianapolis and Indiana and funding compelling causes nationwide

Featured Story

They Came. They Saw. They Stayed.

Lilly Endowment made a $2,792,930 grant to the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce Foundation to support Indy Chamber’s Project Amplify — the first coordinated effort to provide a single source of information about life in Indianapolis – from neighborhoods and nightlife to cost of living and quality of life.

Featured Story

Initiative Strengthens Leadership and Addresses Communities’ Most Pressing Needs

Through the seventh phase of the Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow initiative (GIFT VII), the Endowment provided $125.6 million in grants through multiple funding opportunities, including community leadership grants and board engagement grants. GIFT VII was designed to help community foundations strengthen their leadership competencies and their financial conditions.

Featured Story

Initiative Focuses on Quality of Life in Indianapolis’ Black Community

With support from a $100 million Endowment grant, the National Urban League announced the creation of the Indianapolis African American Quality of Life Initiative, a place-based effort to address decades of disparities in education, employment, housing, health outcomes and economic wellbeing that have affected African Americans in Indianapolis.

Featured Story

Memorial Salutes Those Who Served in the ‘Great War’

The World War I Centennial Commission weathered pandemic-related construction delays in 2020 to make significant progress on the first national memorial located in Washington D.C. that will honor U.S. soldiers who served in the Great War. The $50 million project, being funded largely by private donations, is supported by a $5 million Lilly Endowment grant approved in 2019.


Increasing educational attainment and helping young people reach their full potential

Featured Story

Making Early Learning a Priority in Indiana

With more families gaining access to high-quality child care, Early Learning Indiana gets closer to its vision. In 2020, Early Learning Indiana made grants to 13 organizations across the state to help their local communities increase child care capacity.

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Ascend plays matchmaker between job openings and available talent

Ascend Indiana’s high-tech, high-touch network of employers and colleges and universities is connecting job openings with available talent.


Enhancing congregational leadership and vitality and public understanding of religion

Featured Story

‘The Times They Are A-Changin”

Shifting demographics and social disruptions move congregations to explore how to remain relevant and better serve their communities. In this fluid context, Lilly Endowment launched the Thriving Congregations Initiative to strengthen Christian congregations and help them thrive on into the future.

Featured Story

Mission Critical Work for the Future of Theological Education

Since 1999, Lilly Endowment has supported dissertation-year fellowships for students of African descent under FTE’s Doctoral Fellowships Program for Students of Color, which also provides fellowships for doctoral students of Latino, Asian, Pacific Islands or First Nations descent.

2020 Grant Guidelines and Approvals

Lilly Endowment’s grant guidelines and 2020 grant approvals for community development, education and religion.

For a printed edition of Lilly Endowment’s 2020 Annual Report, please email