The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc., one of the largest private foundations in the United States, has awarded grants totaling $44.3 million to seven public school districts in the Indianapolis metropolitan area, including $16.4 million to the Indianapolis Public School District. The schools will use the funds to improve the quality of education for 110,000 students.
In their proposals, school district officials in Marion County reported facing challenges such as high dropout and poverty rates, rapid growth, poor parental involvement, and declining standardized test scores. District officials also outlined their plans to improve academic performance — plans that include forming preschools to better prepare children for school, providing intensive staff development for teachers and administrators, launching literacy initiatives, integrating technology into school curricula, and personalizing education plans for individual students.
"These proposals were the result of intensive discussion and planning in these school districts," said Sara B. Cobb, vice president for education at the Endowment. "We were pleased to see that these discussions and public meetings drew participants from a broad range of perspectives — from teachers to parents, students to civic leaders, businesses to religious and neighborhood organizations. It is obvious that the success of their students is uppermost in their minds and how to achieve that success is their number one concern."
The Endowment's gift to Indiana public schools follows a similar initiative for private schools in Marion County, which resulted in awards of $24.1 million in July to fourteen private schools in the area.