December 14, 2023
Contact: Judith Cebula
317.916.7327 |

Grants to Colleges and Universities Will Support Collaborative Efforts to Strengthen Quality of Life and Place


INDIANAPOLIS – Lilly Endowment Inc. has approved grants to six colleges and universities in Indiana totaling $145.8 million to support community development projects jointly envisioned by the institutions and local stakeholders to improve quality of life and place in their communities.

The Endowment is making the five-year implementation grants, which range from $5.8 million to $35 million each, through its College and Community Collaboration initiative —a competitive initiative designed to encourage Indiana’s colleges and universities to work closely with community stakeholders to envision and jointly undertake significant community development efforts to create more vibrant places in which to live, learn, work and play. As expressed by many college and university leaders, a vibrant local community is increasingly important to these institutions in their efforts to attract and retain faculty, staff and students.

The Endowment launched the initiative in February, allocating up to $300 million in funding to be approved in multiple phases. In the first phase, eligible Indiana colleges and universities could apply for and receive planning grants to help them identify, assess and address compelling needs and promising opportunities in their communities. Building upon their collaborative planning work, colleges and universities could opt to submit implementation grant proposals to the Endowment for the competitive phase of the initiative this year or in 2024. Learn more about the initiative here.

These six implementation grants will provide partial support for a variety of projects that the colleges and universities and their community collaborators hope will enhance the quality of life and place on campuses and their surrounding communities. Some of the project activities proposed by the six colleges and universities are described below:

  • Ball State University in Muncie will use a $35 million grant to partially fund its collaborative efforts to revitalize The Village, a commercial district adjacent to campus. The revitalization efforts include a performing arts center; owner-occupied residences; new market-rate apartments; a hotel; restaurants and other retail outlets in The Village. The grant will be used to partially fund the performing arts center; an innovation center that will connect university academic programs with local entrepreneurs and business professionals; an events plaza; and an arts and culture trail.
  • Earlham College in Richmond will use a $25 million grant to support an initiative to revitalize downtown Richmond and better connect it with the Earlham campus. The grant will provide partial support to restore historic buildings for commercial and residential uses; develop a multimodal pathway to connect downtown Richmond and the campus; and make improvements to Whitewater Gorge Park.
  • Indiana State University in Terre Haute will use a $5.8 million grant to support early childhood education and child care in six counties in west central Indiana. In addition to helping enhance a regional strategic plan to increase access to high-quality early childhood education and child care for every family, the grant will partially fund the redevelopment and expansion of the university’s existing child care center; provide wraparound services for families; and help college students prepare for careers in early childhood education and child care.
  • Purdue University in West Lafayette will use a $25 million grant to enhance quality of life in several counties by improving early childhood education and child care as well as transportation access in a seven-county region. The grant will partially fund investments in five local child care centers to provide high-quality services to an additional 500 children in the region while deploying resources from the university’s county extension offices to support regional child care providers as they improve their services. Looking to improve access to various modes of transportation, the grant funds will help expand a rideshare program; make improvements to the White River trail; and expand and enhance Purdue University Airport.
  • Taylor University in Upland will use a $30 million grant to partially support a comprehensive strategy to build or improve assets along a one-mile corridor connecting the campus to downtown Upland. Efforts will include the development of a campus inn; residential properties adjacent to campus and mixed-use retail spaces; renovations to the Upland Public Library; and development of an entrepreneurship program that will enable university staff to support emerging entrepreneurs and small-and medium-sized businesses in Upland.
  • Wabash College in Crawfordsville will use a $25 million grant to help support strategic engagement with nonprofit organizations in Montgomery County and capital projects to improve quality of life in the community, especially for its growing Latino population. The grant will partially fund capital projects including the development of a new campus and community center to serve as a convening space for campus and community programs and activities; a new Latino community center to facilitate engagement with Latino residents and provide improved services and support to Latino students at Wabash; and a new early learning center that will provide 124 high-quality child care seats for infants and children up to age five.

“In designing their proposed projects, it was evident that these colleges and universities engaged a wide-ranging group of community stakeholders to imagine and develop creative solutions to pressing campus and community needs,” said Jennett M. Hill, president of the Endowment. “The institutions submitted proposals that revealed robust collaborative efforts reflective of the institutions’ willingness to learn from not only campus colleagues but from local residents and businesses to help shape projects with promising potential to enhance the quality of life on their campuses and in their local communities.”

In the first phase of the initiative, all 35 eligible Indiana colleges and universities submitted planning proposals and received planning grants. The grants, which totaled $9,660,381, provided time and resources for colleges and universities to conduct comprehensive assessment and planning activities in close collaboration with organizations in their local communities. Many convened meetings with a diverse cross section of community stakeholders, conducted market assessments, identified prospective sites for redevelopment, researched national best practices, visited other campuses and explored financing options for potential projects, among other planning activities.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly and his sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion, and it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.