Founded in 1937 by three members of the Lilly Family (J.K. Lilly Sr. and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr.), Lilly Endowment is one of the largest private philanthropic organizations in the United States. Based in Indianapolis, it derives the bulk of its funding from gifts of stock in the family pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company.
Lilly Endowment focuses its activities on education, religion and community development. The founders of the endowment had a burning desire to help the people of Indiana; thus, the bulk of charitable initiatives and grants offered by the organization are geared towards activities in Indiana.
Since its inception, various programs have been developed under each of the endowment’s principal focus areas. These are programs that the organization funds on a regular basis.
Lilly Endowment recognizes the importance of education as an instrument of change and development. The organization gives grants to educational institutions and programs that seek to improve the quality of education across Indiana. Emphasis is placed on supporting higher learning institutions in order to increase the number of people with a bachelor’s degree. This is in response to Indiana’s ranking as one of the states with the highest number of people over 25 without a bachelor’s degree.
The three major programs in the education division are the Community Scholarship Program, the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program and the Summer Youth Program Fund.
Established in 1987, the Teacher Creativity Fellowship Program was developed with the aim of renewing the commitment of educators across Indiana to delivering quality education. During the program, school media specialists, teachers, guidance counselors and principals are given financial backing and time to tend to their personal development and growth.
The Community Scholarship Program was founded in 1998 and seeks to improve the level of higher education attainment in Indiana. The program offers four-year, full tuition scholarships with an additional 900 dollars per year for educational materials. Community foundations in Indiana play an integral role in the administration of the scholarships.
The most recent program that was added to the education section is the Summer Youth Program Fund. Through this program, Lilly Endowment provides grants to organizations that provide constructive and safe activities for children from 4-19 years of age to engage in during the summer. Organizations that receive funding include tutoring centers, churches, community and sports centers, art centers, overnight camps, parks and theaters.
Eli Lilly once mentioned in Madison Magazine that the cause closest to his heart was character education. In order to bring about the development of individuals with moral fibre and upright character, Eli Lilly supported numerous religious causes leading to the establishment of the religious arm of the endowment.
The religious branch of Lilly Endowment seeks to enrich the lives of Christians and congregations across America by improving the capacity of pastors already engaged in the work of ministry and educating a new crop of pastors. They do this through supporting theological institutions and providing opportunities for established ministers to renew their commitment to ministry.
The Indiana and National clergy renewal programs are long-standing initiatives that Lilly Endowment supports as part of its religion arm. Founded in the years 1999 and 2000, respectively, the programs seek to provide pastors with time they can use to recharge their spiritual batteries in order to better serve in ministry. Congregations also use the programs as opportunities to grow the capacities of lay pastors.
The programs both offer grants of up to $50,000 to churches for renewal of their pastors.
Community development is the third major division of Lilly Endowment. Under this section, the organization funds programs that improve the quality of life in Indiana. These are programs that create the kind of economy that can attract lucrative, developmental businesses to the state. Projects and organizations that have received funding in the past include low-income housing projects, neighborhood revitalization projects and arts and culture organizations.
An initiative under community development is the Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) program.
Established in 1990, the endowment uses GIFT to support the establishment, growth and success of community foundations in Indiana’s 92 counties. The community foundations, in turn, provide Lilly Endowment with an avenue to improve the quality of life throughout Indiana. The GIFT program has undergone five phases and is currently in its sixth phase.
The continuous growth and expansion of these programs will enable Lilly Endowment to fulfill its overall objective of creating change and fostering development in Indiana.
— June Samo