Dec. 2, 2020
Contact: Judith Cebula
317.916.7327 |

Lilly Endowment funds large-scale leadership grants

to community foundations in Indiana


Indianapolis – Lilly Endowment is making grants to support 11 community foundations in Indiana as they embark on large-scale leadership efforts to strengthen the towns, cities and counties they serve. The grants – totaling more than $33 million – are being made through the competitive component of the seventh phase of the Endowment’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow initiative for Indiana’s community foundations, known as GIFT VII.

Grants for these large-scale efforts are the latest in a series of grants made through GIFT VII. Since the Endowment launched this phase of GIFT in late 2018, it has made additional grants to all of Indiana’s 94 community foundations and affiliate funds to support planning efforts, fundraising to increase unrestricted endowments, and other leadership projects.  Read the list of large-scale leadership grants here

The large-scale community leadership grants range from $250,000 to $5 million. They cap a two-year process through which the Endowment invited Indiana’s community foundations to deepen their understanding of the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing their communities and develop collaborative plans to address those challenges and opportunities that they deemed to be the highest priorities. The large-scale grants are in addition to leadership grants to address high priorities the Endowment approved earlier for 87 community foundations serving 89 Indiana counties.

Through outreach to stakeholders and through research, community foundations prioritized a variety of projects to improve the lives of Hoosiers. The large-scale grants will fund a range of efforts designed under the leadership of the community foundations that will among other things:

  • address mental health and addiction treatment needs
  • revitalize a comprehensive community resource center dedicated to helping individuals and families
  • establish an educational initiative designed to help families break the cycle of multi-generational poverty
  • strengthen and advance community-wide cultural heritage preservation work and enhance recreational amenities
  • expand social services programs for low-income workers and their families that include education support and recreation opportunities
  • improve access to affordable housing, childcare options, workforce development and strengthen talent attraction and retention.

“We believe these 11 grants hold the promise of helping community foundations further establish and enhance  the leadership roles they uniquely play in improving  the quality of life for their communities’ residents, which is a central aim of the GIFT initiative,” said Ronni Kloth, the Endowment’s vice president for community development. “We are pleased with the collaborations that have been created and developed by the community foundations throughout this highly competitive process and look forward to seeing the impact of their efforts on these very compelling needs in the years to come.”

When the GIFT initiative was launched in 1990, the Endowment recognized, as it does now, that community foundations have the local knowledge, expertise and relationships to lead communities in developing local approaches and solutions to significant local challenges and opportunities they help prioritize.  At the beginning of GIFT, there were fewer than a dozen community foundations in the state. Today, there are 94 community foundations and affiliate funds making grants to support local charitable organizations in all of Indiana’s 92 counties. The combined assets of community foundations that have regularly participated in GIFT have grown from $100 million in 1990 to nearly $3.2 billion at the end of 2019.

With these large-scale leadership grants, the Endowment is drawing to a close its GIFT VII grantmaking. In total, the Endowment has made grants totaling $125.6 million to support all of Indiana’s community foundations and affiliate funds. In addition to these 11 large-scale leadership grants, the Endowment has made the following grants through GIFT VII:

  • Leadership planning grants to 75 community foundations and affiliate funds serving 90 counties totaling $5.6 million. The grants helped community foundations conduct research, convene stakeholders for conversation and inquiry, and set priorities.
  • Leadership implementation grants to 87 community foundations representing 89 counties to fund a variety of local leadership projects. Grant amounts, which are based on county population, ranging from $75,000 to $500,000, totaled $11.25 million.
  • Matching funds grants to all 94 community foundations and affiliate funds totaling $66.9 million. These grants matched donations to the foundations to help build their unrestricted endowments and otherwise support their philanthropic work.

Board giving incentive grants to 83 community foundations. The grants of $100,000 each were made to foundations that secured qualifying donations from 100 percent of their board members. Additional board incentive grants may be made in early 2021.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community developmenteducation and religion. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.