RCCF Awarded $5 Million GIFT VII Large-Scale Leadership Grant

Contact Information: Alisa Winters                                12/1/2020
(765)938-1177 | awinters@rushcountyfoundation.org

The Rush County Community Foundation (RCCF) has received a Large-Scale Community Leadership Grant of $5 million through the seventh phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII) initiative. The grant will support efforts to design, build and operate a multi-purpose community center, the Rush County REC (Recreation, Education, and Collaboration) Center. In addition to recreational and fitness opportunities, the REC Center will be a coordinated hub for social services providers and home to a modern, accessible county library and childcare center. This project is an investment in every aspect of the community.


The Rush County Community Foundation is one of 11 community foundations in Indiana to receive a Large-Scale Leadership Grant as part of a competitive component of the GIFT VII initiative. Through GIFT VII, Lilly Endowment encouraged Indiana’s community foundations to deepen their understanding of the most pressing challenges and opportunities facing their local communities, prioritize them and develop plans to address the challenges and opportunities. The Large-Scale Leadership Grants are in addition to non-competitive GIFT VII Community Leadership Grants that Lilly Endowment made earlier this year to 87 of Indiana’s community foundations. The Rush County Community Foundation received a $100,000 leadership grant in September.


The opportunities available to RCCF and the community by this gift are limited only by imagination. The REC Center will offer experiences for everyone. This project will address many of Rush County’s most pressing issues, including hunger; convenient, comprehensive access to social services; and health outcomes. Offering amenities will help retain and attract residents, stemming population decline. The REC Center will fill a gap for affordable, high-quality childcare. The fitness programs and equipment will improve overall health. While $5 million is a substantial sum, various fundraising efforts will be necessary to complete all phases. Support from the Rush County community will be essential.


Lilly Endowment’s gift to our community has the potential to impact every resident for generations. The REC Center has evolved from the concept of a stand-alone recreational facility into a consolidated, collaborative project that supports the social service, education, health, and recreation needs of all Rush County residents from infants to seniors. The REC Center is visionary. Our partners and community members recognize the need for and the potential of this project, and we are incredibly grateful that Lilly Endowment believes in it and our community, too.  Our gratitude and excitement are difficult to express in words; we are elated,” said Alisa Winters, Executive Director of the Rush County Community Foundation.


As part of a planning grant from Lilly Endowment, in the fall of 2019 RCCF hosted a series of public, in-person listening sessions and published an online survey to solicit feedback from the community. This input was combined with survey responses from the City of Rushville’s comprehensive planning process to determine the needs and desires of the citizens. Phone surveys conducted by a contracted research firm confirmed all findings. The path forward became clear; to improve the overall well-being of Rush County, a multi-purpose community center was needed and broadly supported.


“The 11 grants Lilly Endowment is funding through the highly-competitive component of GIFT VII hold great promise of helping community foundations strengthen the leadership roles they play in improving  the quality of life for their communities’ residents” said Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for community development. “We are truly impressed by the collaborative projects these community foundations have developed to address the compelling needs they have prioritized and look forward to seeing the impact of their efforts in the years to come.”

Meeting the philanthropic needs of Rush County since 1991, the Rush County Community Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit public charity established to serve donors, award grants and scholarships, and provide leadership to enrich and enhance the quality of life in Rush County, Indiana, not only today, but for our future generations.


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.


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