Lake County Foundations Receive Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc.

By: Legacy Foundation Last Updated: October 6, 2020

$300,000 Awarded for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Programming

Legacy Foundation, in partnership with the Crown Point Community Foundation, has received a Community Leadership Grant of $300,000 as part of the seventh phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII) initiative.  With the grant, the two Lake County based community foundations will create programs that reduce barriers for start-ups and current business owners, broaden access to entrepreneurial resources and deepen the pipeline of future entrepreneurs.

Legacy Foundation, in partnership with the Crown Point Community Foundation, is one of 84 foundations in Indiana receiving grants through this round of GIFT VII grantmaking. Lilly Endowment created GIFT in 1990 to help local communities in Indiana develop the philanthropic capacity to identify local needs and challenges. It launched GIFT VII in 2018 and made available a total of $125 million to help foundations strengthen their leadership capacities in the towns, cities and counties they serve. Lilly Endowment expects to make additional GIFT VII grants in the coming months.

“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for their investment in northwest Indiana. We have been listening and learning from the community about their needs, and we’ve heard time and again from small business owners and budding entrepreneurs who need more support to be successful,” said Legacy Foundation President and CEO Carolyn Saxton.

As part of GIFT VII, the two Lake County community foundations were awarded a planning grant of $124,500in 2019 to convene local stakeholders to identify, prioritize and assess opportunities and challenges in Lake County. In March 2020, the Foundations were invited to apply for a GIFT VII Community Leadership Grant to implement strategies and activities identified during the planning period.

“Throughout the planning process, we learned about opportunities from local stakeholders that reached beyond the county line; opportunities that would strengthen Lake County and the region as a whole. It was important to them to put strategies in place that worked collaboratively with organizations who identified or are working on similar initiatives, to speed up advancements, increase participation, and gain human resource advantages,” said Mary Nielsen, President, Crown Point Community Foundation.

Legacy Foundation and Crown Point Community Foundation will work with Unity Foundation of La Porte County, Center of Workforce Innovations in Porter County, and the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center to extend programming across the region. The website NWI BizHub will launch in November and serve as an online hub for entrepreneurial resources. The Foundations will fund the creation of a mentorship program to assist local entrepreneurs as they grow their business and think through innovations. In order to develop a pipeline of young entrepreneurs that can sustain the future of the small business community, the Foundations are also supporting the implementation of a youth program, which will engage students interested in entrepreneurship and walk them through the process of launching an enterprise.

“We hope this grant will help us create a community culture and network of resources that positions northwest Indiana as a destination for entrepreneurs,” said Saxton.