The Lilly Endowment has announced a new $66 million phase of its GIFT initiative for Indiana community foundations

Bill Barnes, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Madison & Jefferson County, said he and the foundation's board will be discussing how to proceed with the grant offering. The local foundation is eligible to apply for a $500,000 grant.

"Past grants from Lilly Endowment are such an important part of our Community Foundation's 23 year story, Barnes said.

"This latest news is another wonderful chapter in that story.  During the first five phases of Lilly Endowment's GIFT Initiative, our staff and board members worked hard with our donors to take advantage of every available matching dollar.  These donations and Lilly's matching funds have grown our foundation to the point where our 2014 grants will total over $600,000," Barnes said.

Begun nearly 25 years ago, the GIFT initiative was designed to help local Indiana communities develop programs to address their own needs and challenges. 

Thomas H. Lake, who was the Endowment's board chair at the time, said: "We believe the best way to assist Indiana communities is to help them generate local solutions to local problems. Our intention is to aid Indiana in developing a perpetual legacy of self-reliance to serve the state's communities for generations to come." 

In Indiana, 94 community foundations and county affiliate funds make grants to support local charitable organizations. The number of community foundations in the state has grown to that number from about a dozen in 1990.

Lilly Endowment grants, which total about $985 million, have been used for endowment building, operating support, college scholarships, special charitable and educational projects and programs, fundraising capacity building, convening and technical assistance.

Eligible community foundations must apply for Phase VI grants by Sept. 11.

GIFT Phase VI will offer two types of grant support, each with incentives for community foundations to raise additional matching dollars from donors - funds to build unrestricted endowments and funds to be used for any charitable purpose chosen by the community foundation. At least one-half of the Endowment's grant must be dedicated to the community foundation's unrestricted endowment.