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lilly_endowmentThe Unity Foundation of La Porte County is part of a network of Northwest Indiana foundations invited by the Lilly Endowment Inc., to apply for funding under Phase VI of the Endowment’s GIFT initiative.  This generous program allows the Unity Foundation of LaPorte County, Legacy Foundation, Porter County Community Foundation, and Crown Point Community Foundation to collectively apply for up to $4.5 million as a match for new contributions to them through March 31, 2016. Qualified matching awards are determined by county populations. Unity Foundation will qualify for $1 million.  Legacy Foundation’s share is at $1.4 million; and Crown Point Community Foundation’s is $600,000.  Porter County Community Foundation will qualify for $1.5 million.

On July 16, the Endowment announced a sixth phase of its Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT) Initiative for Indiana Community Foundations.  In that announcement, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for community development Ace Yakey said, “The success of Indiana community foundations over the intervening years has far exceeded the Endowment’s expectations when GIFT began.”

Since 1990, the number of community foundations has grown from about a dozen to a total of 94 funds throughout Indiana. Together they make grants to support local charitable organizations in all of Indiana’s 92 counties. During the same period, the aggregate value of the assets of Indiana community foundations that have regularly participated in GIFT has increased from about $30 million to nearly $2 billion, and those community foundations have paid grants totaling more than $915 million.  The total amount the Endowment has provided over this time period for asset building grants has been approximately $258 million.  “These impressive results would not have been achieved without the imagination, generosity, commitment and leadership of thousands of donors, volunteers and foundation staff members throughout the state. We are amazed at the Hoosier philanthropic spirit,” Yakey said.

Community Funds

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Because the Endowment believes it is important for community foundations to have their own endowment funds to strengthen their communities, the matching incentives are more favorable for unrestricted gifts to support each foundation’s community fund.  However, the match is also available for contributions to new or existing endowment funds. Each foundation is determining its specific plans for how best to meet the match taking into consideration the needs of their county and the philanthropic interests of their donors.  The matching program began August 1, 2014 and will run through March 31, 2016 or until the match is met.

Maggi Spartz, Unity Foundation president said; “The Endowment is giving us a series of matching options that need to be evaluated by our board of directors. This is a tremendous opportunity.”

Ed Volk, Co-Chairman of the Unity Foundation said, “We are delighted to be able to apply for $1 million from the Endowment.  The Unity Foundation has participated successfully in every past gift phase Lilly Endowment has offered.  We intend to be successful for GIFT Phase VI.”

Jon Gilmore, also Co-Chairman said; “As a newer member of the Unity board, I look forward to making a lasting impact on La Porte County. Building our Community Fund means more grant dollars ahead for the many critical charitable causes in La Porte County.”

As in past GIFT phases, technical assistance will be provided by the Indiana Philanthropy Alliance (IPA) through a grant from the Endowment.

The GIFT initiative will enhance each community foundation’s ability to build a culture of philanthropy that will positively transform Northwest Indiana.

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