Lilly Endowment is planning to invest up to $50 million in programs and projects that aim to improve the economic situation of low-income Indianapolis residents and move them toward self-sufficiency.

The endowment is soliciting proposals from not-for-profit organizations, including human service agencies, churches and other faith-based organizations, hospitals, schools, neighborhood groups and others—and is encouraging those groups to collaborate with each other or with companies and governmental agencies on their efforts.

“In recent years, an average of 180,000 Indianapolis residents annually have experienced the challenges of poverty, with many struggling to meet even their basic needs,” Rob Smith, the endowment’s senior vice president for collaborative strategies, said in a statement.

“A sustained, community-wide response is needed to help them overcome these challenges,” he said. “Fortunately, our city has a history of coming together to address challenges and pursue opportunities, and we hope that this initiative can tap into that community spirit.”

The endowment said that because issues that cause and sustain poverty are so complex, it is open to a variety of approaches, ideas and strategies and said it is especially interested in “high-touch, personal approaches … that have been developed with significant input from the people applicants seek to help.”

The Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis grants—which will individually range from $50,000 to $10 million—will be in addition to the endowment’s existing programs.

The Lilly Endowment is one of the nation’s largest private charitable foundations, with assets of $15.1 billion as of the end of 2018.

The endowment paid $504.5 million in grants last year to organizations focused on education, religion and community development. Of that total, nearly $348 million, or 69%, went to Indiana-based groups. Out-of-state organizations received $156.7 million, mostly in religious grants.

The Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis grants will have two stages.

In the first stage, applicants will submit brief concept papers by March 27. The endowment will review those proposals and invite organizations with the most compelling ideas to submit full proposals. That deadline will be Aug. 31, with grant announcements expected to be made by the end of next year.

More information is available at the program’s website. The endowment will host several informational sessions in December and January where potential applicants can learn more.
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