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Wabash College helping Crawfordsville community nonprofits

Wabash College received a $25 million grant from Lilly Endowment to support surrounding communities. This is the largest foundation gift received by the college.

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Wabash College plans to provide support to Montgomery County’s nonprofit agencies thanks to a $25 million grant from Indiana’s Lilly Endowment.

As part of its College and Community Collaboration (CCC) initiative, the institution will help local community organizations gain access to the college’s resources.

They plan to strengthen ties with the Latino community and fund early childhood education in Montgomery County among other efforts to enhance community collaboration.

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“Wabash is eternally grateful that Lilly Endowment recognized the various ways Wabash can and will support the nonprofit ecosystem in Montgomery County through our people, programs, and places,” said Wabash President Scott E. Feller.

“We are excited to work with our community partners to improve the quality of life for all our citizens.”

Wabash College

The aim of the Lilly Endowment grant is to encourage Indiana’s colleges and universities to work closely with community stakeholders to envision and jointly undertake significant community development efforts.

For two years, Wabash 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.

Jim Amidon, Wabash College’s principal investigator, previously said working with Lilly grants for the community resulted in truly eye-opening research.

“Even for those of us who have called Montgomery County our home for decades and decades,” said Amidon.

“While those of us who work at Wabash don’t see town-gown divisions, we quickly realized that our community sees the College differently – as ‘insular’ and ‘existing only for itself.’”

Community engagement

Amidon said that drove their efforts to design a proposal to use Wabash’s enormous human and physical resources to open their doors to the community.

Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton said the city and college have a long, rich history of collaborative partnerships dating back to the college’s recovery from a devastating fire in 1838.

“We fully recognize that our successes are inextricably intertwined, and I applaud Wabash’s effort to help address some key factors affecting the quality of life in our community,” said Barton.

Wabash is one of six Indiana higher education institutions receiving implementation grants through the Lilly Endowment. Lilly Endowment anticipates making additional grants through the CCC initiative in 2024.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON. 

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