Community Foundation of St. Joseph County

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Community Foundation Receives $200,000 Lilly Endowment Inc. Grant

GIFT VII Funding Will Support 21st Century Scholars Success Coalition

Lilly Endowment Inc.

The Community Foundation of St. Joseph County has received a Community Leadership Grant of $200,000 as part of the seventh phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII) initiative. This grant will support the implementation of the Community Foundation’s 21st Century Scholar Success Initiative.

The Community Foundation is one of 84 foundations in Indiana receiving grants through this round of GIFT VII grantmaking. Lilly Endowment created GIFT in 1990 to help local communities in Indiana develop the philanthropic capacity to identify local needs and challenges. It launched GIFT VII in 2018 and made available a total of $125 million to help foundations strengthen their leadership capacities in the towns, cities and counties they serve. Lilly Endowment Inc. expects to make additional GIFT VII grants in the coming months.

As part of GIFT VII, the Community Foundation was awarded a planning grant of $100,000 in 2019 to convene local stakeholders to identify, prioritize, and assess opportunities and challenges in St. Joseph County.  In March 2020, the Community Foundation was invited to apply for a GIFT VII Community Leadership Grant to implement strategies and activities identified during the planning period.

In the planning process, the Community Foundation focused on St. Joseph County’s high rates of generational poverty and below-average median household income.

“We know that improving educational attainment is the only reliable path out of poverty,” says Rose Meissner, president of the Community Foundation. “The 21st Century Scholar Success Initiative will create greater prosperity for those individuals who participate and, in turn, for our community as a whole.”

Through the 21st Century Scholar Success Coalition, the Community Foundation is leading a team of more than 20 key partners in K-12 education, higher education, economic development, and social services in a coordinated effort to increase the number of low-income students who achieve a well-paying job in the region by completing post-secondary degrees through Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program. Grant funding will support events and convenings, the creation and implementation of a unified communications plan, and a full-time position at the Community Foundation that will be dedicated to the initiative’s success.

“We appreciate the opportunities that Lilly Endowment has provided to us over the years to bring about meaningful and lasting change in our community,” says Meissner. “Twenty years ago, a major grant from Lilly Endowment helped create our Early Years Count Education Initiative, which continues to flourish today. This new grant allows us to focus on the next stage of students’ educational journeys.”

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 development, education 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.