LAWRENCEBURG, Ind., November 12, 2020 – The Dearborn Community Foundation (DCF), Inc. has received a $100,000 Community Leadership Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help establish the poverty-to-self-sufficiency employment program, Rural Works, in Dearborn County.

The Community Leadership Grant is part of the seventh phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VII) initiative. DCF is one of 84 community 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. GIFT VII was launched 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.

“We are very thankful Lilly Endowment has once again provided us with a great opportunity to help tackle a challenge in our community,” said Fred McCarter, DCF Executive Director. “We also are thankful to community members who helped the Foundation identify the need for a program like Rural Works in Dearborn County.”

As part of GIFT VII, Dearborn Community Foundation was awarded a planning grant of $50,000 in 2019 to convene local stakeholders to identify, prioritize and assess opportunities and challenges in Dearborn County.  In March 2020, DCF was invited to apply for a GIFT VII Community Leadership Grant to implement strategies and activities identified during the planning period.

The $100,000 GIFT VII Community Leadership grant will provide funding to River Valley Resources, Inc. (RVR), Madison, Ind., to help establish Rural Works, an employment program based on the highly-successful, nearly 25-year-old Cincinnati Works model. The program will be called Dearborn Works and will work closely with other community partners, like Work One, Ivy Tech Community College, the Southeast Indiana Chamber Foundation, the CARE (Community Action Recovery Effort) Initiative, Jail Chemical Addiction Program (JCAP) and others.

In addition, DCF’s Board of Directors approved matching the $100,000 GIFT VII Community Leadership Grant with a $100,000 grant from the Foundation’s Lawrenceburg Community Grant Program to help sustain Dearborn Works after the initial funding. United Way of Southeast Indiana also has already begun providing funding to establish and sustain the program in Dearborn County.

DCF relied heavily on the United Way’s “Big Ideas” community assessment along with convenings, large and small, to help prioritize challenges and opportunities in Dearborn County. The Foundation and other community leaders also attended community development workshops, planning sessions, and conferences to get community input. The top three needs identified by assessment by United Way and DCF were “A Ready Workforce,” “Leadership Development,” and “Substance Abuse Prevention and Support.”

The leaders of workforce development and substance abuse initiatives, along with the United Way, urged us to consider supporting a program like Rural Works,” McCarter said. “We all agreed Rural Works would compliment the work these initiatives are doing to help individuals in our community.”

The key goal of Dearborn Works is to help people that need support and coaching to become, or get back to being, prideful, economically self-sufficient people, who are productive, tax-paying citizens without the need for public assistance. Dearborn Works will be open to the general public and also will serve justice-involved individuals. In order to graduate from Dearborn Works, a participant must attend and participate in 30 hours of intensive soft skills training taught in a week-long job readiness workshop. Curriculum is taught by professional case management staff, as well as community volunteers, including local employers.

Established in December 1997 during the early phases of the GIFT initiative, members of the community have been turning to Dearborn Community Foundation for more than 20 years now to make their philanthropic dreams come true. DCF, a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt public charity, helps donors’ dreams come true by safeguarding endowments for the community through contributions large and small. DCF recently was reaccredited with the nation’s highest standard for philanthropic excellence from the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations®, which establishes legal, ethical, and effective practices for community foundations everywhere. The Foundation first received this accreditation in January 2009.

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 developmenteducation 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.