What is Lilly Endowment?

Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr., and his two sons – Eli and J.K. Jr. – through gifts of stock in Eli Lilly and Company, the pharmaceutical business started by J.K. Sr.’s father, Col. Eli Lilly.

Is the Endowment part of Eli Lilly and Company?

No. Although the founders’ gifts of stock in Eli Lilly and Company remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the Company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. The Endowment also should not be confused with the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, which is a private foundation established by the Company in 1968. Learn More

What are the principal causes the Endowment supports?

In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment concentrates its support on the causes of community development, education and religion. The Endowment affords special emphasis to projects that benefit young people and that strengthen financial self-sufficiency in the nonprofit, charitable sector. Learn More

Where does the Endowment seek to make impact?

In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment gives priority to efforts that improve the quality of life in Indianapolis and throughout Indiana. This priority applies especially to grants for community development and elementary/secondary education. Exceptions include occasional funding on an invitational basis for national programs that complement or relate to our work in Indiana or further a compelling cause aligned with our founders’ interests.

The Endowment’s interest in higher education extends to Indiana colleges and universities, and nationwide to historically black colleges and universities, Native American colleges and programs that increase access to college for Latino Americans. Grants to institutions of higher learning outside Indiana are restricted to programs offered by the Endowment on an invitational basis.

Our grantmaking in religion is national in scope, as is support relating to philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, which is provided on an invitational basis. Grants for international purposes are limited to a few United States-based economics and public policy programs affecting North and South American countries.

What is the focus of the Endowment’s work in religion?

In keeping with the interests of Endowment’s founders, our grantmaking in religion focuses primarily on supporting efforts to deepen and enrich the religious lives of American Christians, principally by funding efforts to support and enhance the vitality and leadership of faith communities where Christians gather regularly to worship, share their lives and participate in God’s mission in the world. In addition, the Endowment’s grantmaking in religion aims to increase the public’s understanding of religion and the role it plays in shaping American life. Learn More

How do I apply for a grant for my organization from the Endowment?

If you believe your charitable organization has a request that fits within our guidelines, we suggest that you send us a preliminary letter of no more than two pages by regular mail. The letter should tell us about your organization, the project you have in mind, the issue or need you seek to address and the amount of support you will need. We respond in writing to all preliminary inquiries. In cases that warrant further consideration, we may ask you to compose a full proposal. Emailed or faxed requests will not be considered.

What is the approval process for a grant proposal?

A program director generally reviews grant proposals. Those that meet the criteria for consideration proceed to the appropriate division for review, then to the Endowment’s officers and finally to the Endowment’s Board of Directors. The Board of Directors considers grants in March, June, September, November and December. The grant review process generally takes three to six months. All grantseekers receive written notification of our decisions.

Please direct correspondence to:
Program Office
Lilly Endowment Inc.
2801 N. Meridian St.
P. O. Box 88068
Indianapolis, IN 46208-0068
(317) 924-5471

How can I learn more about the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program?

This fellowship invites Indiana’s K-12 teachers, principals, assistant principals, librarians/media specialists and guidance counselors to dream big and create renewal experiences that will strengthen their commitment to education. Learn More

How can I learn more about Lilly Endowment Clergy Renewal Programs at Christian Theological Seminary?

The National Clergy Renewal Program and the Indiana Clergy Renewal Programs provide opportunities for pastors to step away from the persistent obligations of daily parish life and engage in a period of renewal and reflection. Learn More

How does the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program work?

Indiana high school students may be eligible to apply for scholarships to attend accredited colleges or universities in Indiana through the community foundations that serve their home counties. The program is administered by Independent of Colleges Indiana. Learn More

How does the Summer Youth Program Fund work?

The Summer Youth Program Fund is a collaborative funding effort that was initiated by Lilly Endowment and others that now includes multiple funding organizations that support summer enrichment programs for children and teenagers in Marion County. Learn MOre

What kinds of grants does Lilly Endowment NOT make?

The Endowment generally does not support the following:

  • Loans or cash grants to private individuals. Most grant money is awarded to charitable entities. We do not assist individuals with personal or business-related finances.

  • Requests to discharge pre-existing debts of individuals or organizations.

  • Healthcare projects.

  • Mass media projects. The Endowment does not typically fund mass media projects and limits consideration to projects that fall squarely within our specific program areas.

  • Endowments or endowed chairs. The Endowment targets its grants for specific purposes, except in unusual cases involving longstanding grantees or special initiatives.

  • Libraries. Except for special initiatives, the Endowment regularly declines grants to public libraries outside Marion County, Ind.

  • Outside Indianapolis. Requests usually are declined for building campaigns, elementary/secondary education, arts and culture, human service projects, general operating funds and neighborhood projects (except as part of invitational grant programs).

How can I find financial information about the Endowment?

The Endowment’s annual report includes audited financial statements for the year and a financial report. The most recent annual report can be viewed here. In addition, as a tax-exempt private foundation, the Endowment each year files an IRS tax return (Form 990-PF) that contains information about finances, grantmaking, operations and compliance with tax requirements. You may access Forms 990-PF through GuideStar.  

What is the value of the Endowment’s assets?

As of December 31, 2021, the Endowment’s total assets were $32.8 billion.

How much money does the Endowment distribute each year?

According to federal law, private foundations like the Endowment are required to make eligible charitable expenditures that equal or exceed approximately five percent of the value of the foundation’s investment assets. Although this amount varies each year based on the value of its investment assets, the Endowment always satisfies its required distribution amount.

Where is the Endowment located?

Lilly Endowment is located at 2801 N. Meridian St. in Indianapolis.