Community Foundation of St. Joseph County

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CFSJC Receives $4,066,025 Lilly Endowment Inc. Grant

Funding Will Support 21st Century Scholar Success Initiative

K-12 and higher ed partners, with Rose Meissner

The Community Foundation of St. Joseph County has received a Large-Scale Community Leadership Grant of $4,066,025 through the seventh phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII) initiative. The grant will support the 21st Century Scholar Success Initiative, an effort to dramatically increase the number of local low-income students who achieve well-paying jobs in our region by completing post-secondary degrees through Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program.

The Community Foundation of St. Joseph County is one of 11 community foundations in Indiana to receive a Large-Scale Leadership Grant as part of a competitive component of the GIFT VII initiative. Through GIFT VII, Lilly Endowment encouraged Indiana’s community foundations to deepen their understanding of the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing their local communities, prioritize them and develop plans to address the challenges and opportunities. The Large-Scale Leadership Grants are in addition to non-competitive GIFT VII Community Leadership Grants that Lilly Endowment made earlier this year to 87 of Indiana’s community foundations. The Community Foundation of St. Joseph County received a $200,000 leadership grant in September.

St. Joseph County continues to struggle with high rates of generational poverty. Its median household income significantly trails state and national averages. The pandemic and resulting recession make the work of the 21st Century Scholar Success Initiative more urgent than ever, since improving educational attainment creates the most reliable path out of poverty. State data shows that students who complete the 21st Century Scholars program are on track to close the achievement gap between them and their more affluent peers by 2025.

“The Community Foundation has convened an outstanding coalition of school corporations, higher education, and workforce development and mentoring organizations who are committed to helping local students and families imagine a brighter, more prosperous future for themselves and, in turn, for our community as a whole,” said Rose Meissner, president of the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. “This large-scale grant will allow us to change the futures of thousands of local students in the years to come.”

The 21st Century Scholar Success Coalition includes teams from local public school corporations, Indiana University South Bend, South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce, United Way of St. Joseph County, and numerous local mentoring organizations, among others. These partners will work to provide local students with comprehensive support and encouragement as they enroll in the 21st Century  Scholars program, achieve scholarships, complete their degrees and advance to well-paying careers.

 “The 11 grants Lilly Endowment is funding through the highly-competitive component of GIFT VII hold great promise of helping community foundations strengthen the leadership roles they play in improving  the quality of life for their communities’ residents” said Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for community development. “We are truly impressed by the collaborative projects these community foundations have developed to address the compelling needs they have prioritized and look forward to seeing the impact of their efforts in the years to come.”

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.