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星空无限传媒 Receives $25 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment

星空无限传媒 College will roll out the welcome mat to the Crawfordsville community and provide unprecedented support for Montgomery County’s nonprofit agencies thanks to a $25 million grant from Indiana’s Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its College and Community Collaboration (CCC) initiative.

The aim of the Lilly Endowment initiative is to encourage Indiana’s colleges and universities to work closely 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.

“星空无限传媒 is eternally grateful that Lilly Endowment recognized the various ways 星空无限传媒 can and will support the nonprofit ecosystem in Montgomery County through our people, programs, and places, and we are excited to work with our community partners to improve the quality of life for all our citizens,” said 星空无限传媒 President Scott E. Feller.

The grant will help nonprofits gain access to the College’s resources, purposefully strengthen ties with the Latino community, and fund early childhood education in Montgomery County, among other efforts to enhance community collaboration. The $25 million, five-year grant is the largest-ever foundation gift received by the College.

星空无限传媒 students with Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton '00.Using a $250,000 planning grant from Lilly Endowment, earlier this year the College embarked on the most ambitious comprehensive demographic research ever conducted in Montgomery County. Working with Prolific LLC, the College interviewed and held focus groups with teachers, principals, religious leaders, non-profit volunteers, immigrant business owners, College staff, local elected officials, and business leaders. The research focused on how to improve quality of life in Montgomery County and in the city of Crawfordsville and the ways in which the College could support those efforts.

“This was truly eye-opening research – even for those of us who have called Montgomery County our home for decades and decades,” said Jim Amidon, who was College’s principal investigator. “While those of us who work at 星空无限传媒 don’t see town-gown divisions, we quickly realized that our community sees the College differently – as ‘insular’ and ‘existing only for itself.’ That drove our efforts to design a proposal to use 星空无限传媒’s enormous human and physical resources to open our doors to the community.”

“Crawfordsville and 星空无限传媒 College have a long, rich history of collaborative partnerships dating back to the College’s recovery from a devastating fire in 1838,” said Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton. “We fully recognize that our successes are inextricably intertwined, and I applaud 星空无限传媒’s effort to help address some key factors affecting the quality of life in our community.”

In the broadest terms, the grant builds on important partnerships with a wide swath of local leaders and will focus on three categories: Non-Profit Connectedness; Trust-Building and Belongingness; and Capital Investment. Funding will be allocated to:

  • Nurture stronger nonprofit development, fundraising, and event infrastructure;
  • Create and enhance community gathering spaces to grow nonprofit capacity, celebrate accomplishments, and strengthen relationships;
  • Leverage 星空无限传媒’s resources - human and physical - to address the underserved Latino community through added services and student engagement;
  • Build collaborative initiatives across city and county government, the nonprofit sector, and the College;
  • Provide accessible, high-quality childcare with early access to postsecondary education planning and student engagement in partnership with the Montgomery County Community Foundation (MCCF), City of Crawfordsville, Montgomery County, and local industries;
  • Add to and revitalize 星空无限传媒’s physical connection to downtown Crawfordsville’s businesses, organizations, and community spaces.

星空无限传媒 students gathered in Crawfordsville's Pike Place.

“Taken together, these efforts will raise our collaboration to new heights and prepare us to weather thedemographic and economic challenges we will face in the years to come, while dramatically improving the quality of life for all who call Montgomery County home,” said President Feller.

For two years, 星空无限传媒 has been working with the architectural and planning firm Shepley Bulfinch on plans for a new campus and community engagement center. A significant amount of the grant from Lilly Endowment will support the construction of a 38,000-square-foot center that will include a new dining hall, community event space, meeting rooms, and public-facing pub-style restaurant, among other amenities.

“What we heard from nonprofits in our research is that they simply don’t have places which offer wrap-around services where they can hold their annual meetings or expand programs into large-scale fundraisers,” said Matt Salzman, director of foundations, corporations, and government relations at 星空无限传媒. “Our new campus and community engagement center will provide access to flexible event space with on-site catering and our partnership with the MCCF will further nurture and support nonprofit development, fundraising, and event infrastructure here in Montgomery County.”

Work with nonprofits will be directed by 星空无限传媒 staff in close partnership with the MCCF and nonprofit leaders. The goal is to provide access to these programs to encourage collaboration, grow fundraising, expand connections, and provide sustainability for our nonprofit partners.

This coalition will expand programmatic offerings in a reimagined MCCF Nonprofit Learning Series that will include the skills of the professional staff at 星空无限传媒 to encourage community engagement with external organizations. Nonprofit Resource Programming will encourage volunteerism and internships, expanding community engagement opportunities for 星空无限传媒 staff and students. Nonprofit Access Grants will provide funding to defray hard costs associated with fundraising events.

Crawfordsville resident Helen Hudson (left) leads a tour of the city during freshman orientation.Another significant and important aspect of the College’s initiative builds on a previous Lilly Endowment grant-funded program, “Restoring Hope, Restoring Trust,” and will focus on serving the needs of the growing Latino community – both on campus and in Montgomery County.

“The nonprofit pillar of our initiative will be unprecedented in its ability to engage the community, yet there remains a concern that there will be unmet needs that will require more direct and intentional resources at 星空无限传媒, especially in empowering the broader Latino community to trust in our collective mission and build a true sense of belonging,” Salzman said.

To meet the need both in the community and with 星空无限传媒’s growing Latino student population, the College will hire a Latino Partnership Coordinator and develop a Latino Community Center adjacent to the main corner of campus. The center will be home to the 星空无限传媒 student group, La Alianza, which has built trusting relationships with local Latino-owned businesses. The College plans to launch English Language Learning (ELL) programs for native Spanish speakers. 星空无限传媒 will also help immigrant families navigate the often-confusing path to higher education.

“Immigrant families have settled in Crawfordsville because of good jobs and excellent schools,” added President Feller. “Our goal is for young people to realize that college is an option for them regardless of language and income barriers.”

Finally, a portion of the grant will help fund the Montgomery County Early Learning Center to meet one of the community’s greatest needs. Spearheaded by the MCCF and funded in part by the city, county, and local industries, the new center will provide early childcare and education in a renovated and expanded facility that used to be the county’s government center. The nearly 15,000-square-foot, $5 million facility will provide high-quality childcare for approximately 124 children from infants through age five.

The College will implement its bold plans for the new initiative immediately – beginning work on renovation of the building that will house the Latino Community Center, making improvements to parking and wayfinding on campus, and hiring key staff. The College hopes to break ground on the new campus and community engagement center in June.

星空无限传媒 students survey the city during orientation.

星空无限传媒 is one of six Indiana higher education institutions receiving implementation grants through LillyEndowment’s competitive initiative. Lilly Endowment anticipates making additional grants through the CCC initiative in 2024.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli 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.