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Lilly Endowment donates millions to help those affected by pandemic

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The Lilly Endowment has awarded over $100 million to local and statewide nonprofits and community organizations to support areas such as food access, homeless and shelter care, disaster planning and infrastructure support and e-learning.

The United Way of Central Indiana received a total of $19.5 million, of which $15 million was earmarked to create the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund (C-CERF). Indiana United Ways gave the organization the other $4.5 million from a $30 million Endowment grant. 

 “The development of the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund is our way of ensuring our community’s most vulnerable are being served during a global health crisis,” Jennifer Hashem, the public and community relations manager for United Way of Central Indiana, said. “Outside of C-CERF, we will continue to rally our community around areas of greatest need and convene with donors, advocates and volunteers to raise funds that generate true impact for our region.”

The $4.5 million United Way of Central Indiana received from Indiana United Ways will go toward COVID-19 relief in Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties.

“Our coalition of funders has been in daily communication with community leaders across Central Indiana to assess emerging needs and direct service providers to better understand their most pressing challenges,” Ann Murtlow, president and CEO of United Way of Central Indiana, said. “With this information, the founding funders of C-CERF were able to make decisions on grants to organizations that serve in critical service areas that provide flexibility to problem solve in a rapidly changing environment.”

The Endowment also donated $5 million to the state of Indiana to help state leaders respond to the needs of the city’s homeless population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said pandemic homeless individuals are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, as they often aren’t able to practice hygiene recommendations.

Lilly Endowment also set aside funding specifically for e-learning.To help educators and students adapt to online schooling, the Endowment gave a $1 million grant to the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee to create the Indianapolis E-Learning Fund.

A large focus of the grant will be used for technology access for students. Roughly 30% of students in Indianapolis Public Schools don’t have reliable internet access to do their online work.

Claire Fiddian-Green, the president and CEO of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, a funding partner for the program, said the fund is about creating an equal playing field for students. 

“Not all students have access to devices or reliable internet connectivity,” she said in a statement. “The Indianapolis E-Learning Fund will help address acute short-term needs not covered by federal stimulus funds and will also support the development of a longer-term e-learning strategy. The Fairbanks Foundation is pleased to join with other philanthropic, corporate and civic leaders in support of this very important effort.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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