November 21, 2019
Contact: Judith Cebula
317.916.7327 |

New Initiative to Focus on Economic Self-Sufficiency in Indianapolis


INDIANAPOLIS – Lilly Endowment Inc. is launching a new grant initiative to encourage the creation and expansion of promising, collaborative strategies to help people in Indianapolis living in or near poverty make progress toward lasting economic self-sufficiency. Through Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis, the Endowment will provide a total of up to $50 million in grants in 2020.

“In recent years, an average of 180,000 Indianapolis residents annually have experienced the challenges of poverty, with many struggling to meet even their basic needs,” said Rob Smith, the Endowment’s senior vice president for collaborative strategies. “A sustained, community-wide response is needed to help them overcome these challenges. Fortunately, our city has a history of coming together to address challenges and pursue opportunities, and we hope that this initiative can tap into that community spirit.”

The Endowment is inviting a wide variety of charitable organizations, including human services agencies, congregations and other faith-based organizations, schools, colleges and universities, hospitals, neighborhood organizations, arts and culture organizations and other public charities to apply for funding under this competitive initiative. The Endowment encourages these charitable organizations to work with each other and/or other groups, businesses and governmental agencies to imagine and develop new strategies and collaborations or enhance and expand existing efforts with the aim of helping a significant number of people make progress toward lasting self-sufficiency.

The Endowment recognizes that the causes of and the issues and conditions related to poverty and financial insecurity are extremely complex and varied. It is open to considering, therefore, a wide range of ideas, programs and strategies that hold promise for helping people in meaningful ways make progress toward economic self-sufficiency. The Endowment will be especially interested in collaborative proposals that involve high-touch, personal approaches and that have been developed with significant input from the people applicants seek to help.

The initiative will have two stages. In the first stage, interested applicants will submit brief concept papers describing their ideas, programs or strategies that address the aim of the initiative. Organizations can request from $50,000 to $10 million in funding to be used for a grant period of up to five years. Interested organizations have until Friday, March 27, 2020, to submit concept papers.

In the second stage, the Endowment will review the concepts and invite organizations that have submitted the most compelling ideas to submit full proposals. The deadline for these proposals is August 31, 2020. The Endowment expects to make grant announcements by December 31, 2020.

This initiative is in addition to the Endowment’s longstanding and ongoing grantmaking in Indianapolis that supports the good work of a wide array of organizations that help people in need improve the quality of their lives.

“From its beginning more than 80 years ago, the Endowment has consistently supported organizations that are committed to helping people make progress toward self-sufficiency. We hope that this new initiative will help these organizations and others build on their existing programs and imagine new approaches in collaboration with others to help many more individuals reach their full potential,” Smith said.

More information about the initiative’s rationale, proposal requirements and selection criteria can be found in the initiative’s Request for Proposals and by attending one of the information sessions the Endowment will offer in December and January for representatives of eligible organizations and potential collaborating organizations. Individuals must register for these sessions through the Endowment’s website. Space is limited for each session.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family — J.K. Lilly Sr. and 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 the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.