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|Founder||J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli|
|Thomas M. Lofton, Chairman|
|Endowment||$7.3 billion (as of 2012)|
Lilly Endowment Inc., headquartered in Indianapolis, is one of the world's largest private philanthropic foundations and among the largest endowments in the United States. It was founded in 1937 by J. K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J. K. Jr., with gifts of stock in the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company.
While stock in the Lilly company is the Endowment's foremost asset, it is separate from the company. It is a private foundation, in a different location, with its own board of directors, and is not linked to the company except by the significant percentage of the company's stock it holds.
The Endowment has historically focused on three primary grant areas: community development, education and Christianity. Lilly Endowment the largest private foundation in the U.S. that funds almost exclusively in its home city and state, and is one of few major foundations to fund religion.
One of the Endowment's most remarkable achievements is its Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) initiative. Since 1987, the initiative has been responsible for starting and growing Indiana community foundations. Today, Indiana has more community foundations than any other state, with combined assets of nearly $1.5 billion.
From its inception, Lilly Endowment has supported numerous religious endeavors. These include Christ Church Cathedral (Indianapolis), with which J. K. Lilly Sr. was involved throughout his life, beginning as a choir boy. Upon Lilly's death, a stipulation of the bequest to the church was that it stay in the heart of downtown Indianapolis. Lilly supported a wide variety of religious endeavors, which he considered an important means of promoting character development.
Institutions and programs funded by Lilly grants have included:
- 1966 – The Youth Ministry project ($50,000)
- 1974 – Readiness for Ministry for the Association of Theological Schools
- 1976–82 – The introduction of the Readiness for Ministry program to Association of Theological Schools seminaries
- 1981 – Study of Early Adolescents and Their Parents ($273,000)
- 1988 – Effective Christian Education: A National Study of Protestant Congregations
- 1999–2002 – Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation. 88 colleges and universities received a total of $136.5 million to establish or strengthen programs that assisted students in examining the relationship between faith and vocational choices, provided opportunities for gifted young people to explore Christian ministry, and enhanced the capacity of school faculty and staff to effectively teach and mentor students.
- 2003 – Emory University's Youth Theological Initiative (under the university's Candler School of Theology), a center for research and theological youth education that has become a model for such programs across the nation ($2,182,200 over four years)
Other Lilly Endowments beneficiaries have included:
- The Rockefeller-funded and ecumenical Association of Theological Schools
- Search Institute, a psychology-based, not-for-profit, ecumenical youth research organization supported by grants and contracts from foundations, corporations and government agencies, proceeds from the sales of products and services, and tax-deductible contributions from individuals and organizations.
- The ecumenical Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations, whose Bethany Project was formed to revitalize congregations by patterning its ministry after Charles E. Fuller, the father of New Evangelicalism.
- The Hudson Institute, a conservative nonprofit think tank
In 2010, Lilly Endowment awarded $35 million to Manchester University (formerly Manchester College) of Fort Wayne, Indiana to establish the Manchester University College of Pharmacy, the state's third such institution. Its inaugural class was enrolled in the fall of 2012 and will graduate in the spring of 2016.
Over the years, the Endowment has acquired a collection of important Indiana paintings that were in danger of leaving the state, including works by William Merritt Chase, John Elwood Bundy and members of the Hoosier Group. They are generally displayed at the Endowment's offices on North Meridian Street in Indianapolis. In 2003-05, a number of the paintings appeared in museums around Indiana as part of a special exhibition.