LAWRENCEBURG, INDIANA, DECEMBER 1, 2022 – Two Dearborn County high school seniors learned today that they are recipients of a prestigious Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship. The Dearborn Community Foundation (DCF) awarded the full-tuition scholarships to East Central High School’s Elizabeth Kirchgassner and South Dearborn High School’s Ava Slayback.

Ava Slayback
Elizabeth Kirchgassner

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).

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

Kirchgassner of Guilford is the daughter of Robyn and Daniel Kirchgassner. She plans to study Nursing at Purdue University. At East Central, Kirchgassner excels as a varsity tennis player. She has been active in many clubs and groups: Dearborn County Youth Ambassadors (DCYA Youth Summit Leader); Recycling Club; Fellowship of Christian Athletes of America (leader); All Saints Parish Youth Group (group leader); and East Central Student Council. She also volunteered: DCYA Care packages for YES Home clients; FCA Operation Christmas boxes; and helped organize the DCYA Youth Summit for 8th graders. Kirchgassner also found the time to during the school year and summertime.

DCF administers the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program (LECSP) 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 LECSP, 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 $486 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 four remaining LECSP finalists are recognized as 2023 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 2023 DCF scholarships to: Caitlyn Dick, East Central High School; Hailey Abdon, Lawrenceburg High School; Abigail Williams, LHS; and Kiersten Dixon, South Dearborn 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 Indianahas 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.