LAWRENCEBURG, INDIANA, DECEMBER 9, 2021 – South Dearborn High School senior Rylee Thies learned today that she is the 2022 recipient of the Dearborn County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship (LECS).

Rylee Thies

Each Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship provides for full tuition, required fees and a special allocation of up to $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university. Lilly Endowment Community Scholars may also participate in the Lilly Scholars Network (LSN), which connects scholars with resources and opportunities to be active leaders on their campuses and in their communities. Both the scholarship program and the LSN are supported by grants from Lilly Endowment to Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI).

“Rylee epitomizes what the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship is all about: community involvement, academic achievement, character and leadership,” said Fred McCarter, Executive Director of DCF. “She was selected from among a competitive group of applicants for this high honor and our community should be very proud of Rylee and the other five finalists.” 

Thies of Aurora is the daughter of Angela DeSalvo and Robert Thies Jr. She plans to study Nursing with a specialty in the neonatal field. She is undecided on what college or university she will attend. At South Dearborn, Thies has been active in many clubs and groups, including: National Honor Society; Student Government; Business Professionals of America (state qualifier, placed 16th at Nationals); Gardening Club; Drama Workshop; and STAR Mentors. She also participated in basketball and volleyball. Thies also volunteered: Salvation Army; Dearborn County Clearing House for Emergency Aid, Inc.; South Dearborn Dollars for Scholars; Ohio River Sweep; Moores Hill Alumni Dinner; and in nursing homes as a part of Bunny Towel Gifts. She even found time to work during school and in the summer.

DCF administers the LECS Program in Dearborn County. A five-member scholarship committee and the DCF staff annually review each application during Phase I of the scholarship process. During Phase I, committee members assign scores to each blinded application based on an essay written to address a specific question. DCF assigns additional scores based on financial need, cumulative academic scores, andnumber of family dependents.

Based on the highest totalscores during Phase I of the process, six Lilly finalists are selected to move on to Phase II of the selection process. In October, the finalists complete Phase II, which consists of a personal interview, including a PowerPoint presentation to the scholarship committee andwriting an impromptu essay on a specific topic. 

The scholarship committee then submits the top-scoring applicants to the DCF Board for approval before sending the nominations to the statewide administrator for LECS, Independent Colleges of Indiana, for the selection of scholarship recipients.

Lilly Endowment Inc. created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program for the 1998-1999 school year and has supported the program every year since with tuition grants totaling more than $439 million. More than 5,000 Indiana students have received the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship since the program’s inception. The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are: 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.


The five remaining LECS finalists are recognized as 2022 Dearborn Community Foundation Scholarship recipients. Each student receives a $1,000 scholarship paid directly to the student’s school. The scholarship is renewable for up to four years of secondary education at the college or university of the student’s choice. The Foundation is pleased to award the 2022 DCF scholarships to: Michelle Batta, East Central High School; Katie Engel, East Central High School; Emma Dunn, Lawrenceburg High School; Arynn Kunkel, South Dearborn High School; and Esther Owen, Lawrenceburg High School.

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.

Since 1997, Independent Colleges of Indiana has administered the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program statewide with funding provided by Lilly Endowment. Founded in 1948, ICI serves as the collective voice for the state’s 29 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates.