We support, on an invitational basis, regional strategic initiatives in Indiana that build on the work of community foundations, educational institutions, business organizations and other local and regional community organizations and partnerships to plan for and foster greater community and regional prosperity. Our community development and education divisions collaborate on these initiatives to better connect and build on distinctive regional assets in ways that increase opportunity and economic impact in the regions. These initiatives are helping communities align education and job training with employer needs and make their communities and regions more attractive places to live and invest.

Since 2007, the Endowment has approved grants totaling more than $210 million to help launch six strategic community advancement initiatives. The first was an initiative called Economic Opportunities 2015 (EcO15).  Spearheaded by Heritage Fund–The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, EcO15 addressed, among other things, critical education and workforce development issues in a 10-county region of southeastern Indiana focused on the region’s advanced manufacturing sector. In 2009 the Endowment worked with the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne to create the Talent Opportunity Success 2015 (TOpS) initiative to expand the availability of high-skilled workers for an 11-county northeast Indiana region, with an emphasis on the region’s defense and aerospace industry. That same year, the Endowment helped the Kosciusko County Community Foundation establish the OrthoWorx initiative focused on maximizing orthopedics-related opportunities in the Warsaw community, which is home to several prominent orthopedic industry leaders.

Other collaborative efforts among the Endowment’s grantmaking divisions are designed to help build the intellectual capital needed to promote for a broad range of constituents the prosperity of Indiana and its communities. This work currently includes the College and Community Collaboration Initiative, launched in 2023, to encourage Indiana’s institutions of higher education to collaborate 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. LEARN MORE

Related Grants

Indiana Uplands is focusing on research, workforce and education development, and projects that enhance the quality of life in an 11-county area: Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties. The Regional Opportunity Initiative and the Center for Rural Engagement at Indiana University Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division, and the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County play key roles in this regional effort.LEARN MORE

Wabash Heartland Innovation Network (WHIN) is the regional initiative devoted to increasing global economic competitiveness and quality of life in a 10-county area: Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tippecanoe, Warren and White counties. WHIN is promoting synergistic collaborations among Purdue University, local businesses, and educational organizations and area community foundations, including the Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette, to strengthen the development of Internet of Things (IoT) technology in agriculture and advanced manufacturing sectors. It also will work to build IoT technology skills among workers in the region. LEARN MORE

Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network is an initiative to enhance and link expertise, technologies, workforce development programs and innovation-based facilities throughout the broader South Bend-Elkhart region. Launched in 2019, University of Notre Dame and the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership (SBERP) along with the community foundations in St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marshall counties and other key regional stakeholders are working to accelerate the region’s shared vision, described in SBERP’s Ensuring Prosperity Plan, to create an environment that attracts, trains and retains top talent for tomorrow’s jobs. The LIFT Network also builds on the momentum created by an Indiana Regional Cities Initiative grant awarded to the region in 2015.