Lilly Endowment Grant Announcement

Lilly Endowment Grant Announcement

Felege Hiywot Center Receives $2 Million Enhancing Opportunity Grant from Lilly Endowment in Indianapolis

Contact: Aster Bekele

April 1, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS – Felege Hiywot Center has received a grant of $2 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis. The grant will support Rise, an initiative that will elevate youths’ preparation for and access to high-skill professions. Felege Hiywot Center is one of 28 organizations being supported through Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis, an initiative designed to improve the livelihoods of individuals and families facing complex and varied challenges associated with poverty and financial insecurity.

In Rise, youth will advance in teams through middle school, high school, and onward to college and beyond, ascending to promising careers and becoming civic leaders. They will grow in self-sufficiency as they complete internships in advanced skill areas, manage personal finances, and receive mentorship from business professionals, scientists, and university students and faculty. Nature and agriculture will form a foundation for each youth to build knowledge, think critically, and manage a business. The youth will complete science classes and projects with university and private sector partners, run a farm, enter 4-H competitions, earn Junior Master Gardener certifications, and teach local families how to grow and cook nutritious meals. This year-round initiative will start in fall 2021 with 112 youth and will eventually engage over 300 youth per year. Lilly Endowment’s grant support will cover 2021 through 2026.

Aster Bekele, FHC’s founder and Executive Director, observes, “We are blessed to receive this award. Each Rise youth will earn an income by learning and working on our farm and in agriculture, health, and technology companies and nonprofits. Each youth will lead peers, make friends, and have a voice in the future of our neighborhood and city. Each family will become healthier economically, physically, and spiritually. Each Rise partner will shape lives and be inspired by our youth. As Rise grows, we will enhance opportunities for several thousand people.” Current 8th grade – 12th grade students who want to earn money and engage in Agriculture based STEAM summer camp activities can use this link to register: Students who enroll in this camp may become eligible to join Rise in the fall.

For FHC, leadership oversight will come from Bekele and from Tommy Reddicks, Board President of FHC. Strategic advice and initiative design will come from Bryan Richards of Aspen Impact. Career exploration and guidance will occur at FHC and in companies and nonprofit organizations, including Corteva, Eli Lilly & Company, Financial Center, Fishers AgriPark, Indian Farm Bureau, and Marion County Public Health Department. Postsecondary education will occur at Martin University and Purdue Extension-Marion County in Indianapolis, at Ball State University in Muncie, and at Purdue University in West Lafayette. The students will complete dual-credit high school and college courses as they advance. Impact evaluation, data mapping, and grant management partners will include Indiana University’s Food Systems Science Program, AfterschoolHQ, and Paramount Schools of Excellence.

“We are grateful for the tremendous response we received from the Indianapolis community during a time when organizations were called upon to significantly ramp up their existing programs and services in response to the acute needs brought on by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Rob Smith, Lilly Endowment’s senior vice president for collaborative strategies. “We believe that the projects being funded through this initiative have the potential to improve the lives of a significant number of Indianapolis residents facing the challenges of poverty and financial insecurity.”
Lilly Endowment launched Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis in 2019 because poverty and financial insecurity have been persistent challenges in Marion County. Research has indicated that around 20 percent of residents in the city have been living in poverty and an additional 20 percent have been living close to poverty and struggling to make ends meet.
Through Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis, Lilly Endowment invited eligible organizations to consider how they would work comprehensively with other community partners and employers to help residents make progress toward achieving lasting economic self-sufficiency. Due to the number of high-quality proposals Lilly Endowment received and the compounding challenges COVID-19 brought to bear on already vulnerable individuals and families, Lilly Endowment nearly doubled its initial funding commitment to more than $93 million.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly, Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it 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. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.