Goshen College students participate outdoors during an Identity, Culture and Community class.

$3 million from Lilly will expand community engaged learning and partnerships in Elkhart County

Goshen College has received a grant of nearly $3 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. through the competitive Phase 3 of its Charting the Future of Indiana’s Colleges and Universities initiative. The grant will support a five-year plan for expanding inclusive education in Elkhart County through community-engaged learning and partnerships.

“As a nationally-ranked baccalaureate college, we are ready to claim that local community engagement will be a hallmark of a Goshen College education,” said Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus.

This Phase 3 grant is in addition to and builds upon a $1 million Phase 2 grant in October 2020, and a $100,000 Phase 1 planning grant in November 2019, from Lilly Endowment Inc. These grants, which were augmented by an additional $522,594 from the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, are building institutional capacity to address the career concerns of both traditional students and those in careers now disrupted.

The overarching goal of Goshen College’s Charting the Future proposals is to increase educational access, engagement and attainment in Elkhart County for all learners, including at Goshen College, through new educational partnerships with and for the local community. This includes outreach to low-income, school-age students and adult learners, particularly in the predominantly Black and Latino communities of south-central Elkhart and north Goshen.

“We recognize that our future is inextricably linked to a thriving and equitable community. Our proposal is innovative in its claim that community engagement will be a hallmark of Goshen College’s inclusive academic excellence as higher education adapts to the new realities of changing demographics and urgent social needs,” Stoltzfus said.

With these grants, the college will develop a new Office for Community Engaged Learning, which will build programs that are educationally rigorous for students, create belonging and inclusion for students historically underserved, and are mutually rewarding for the college’s partners.

This network of partnerships will include educational partnerships such as Elkhart Community Schools and Goshen Community Schools, Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Ivy Tech, Bluffton (Ohio) University, as well as facilitating partnerships with Community Foundation of Elkhart County, Horizon Educational Alliance and South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership.

Goshen College student Megan Gerke helps seventh grader Sam Smith and sixth grader Nayely Arellano with a coding problem in a 2016 coding class.

“Through strong community connections, we will not only recruit students, enhance community engaged education and develop a talented regional workforce, but we will strengthen the capacities of GC and our graduates — many who choose to live in northern Indiana — to adapt to a rapidly changing and highly interdependent world,” Stoltzfus said.

The five-year plan is designed with an ambitious proposal to advance the college and county through programs and partnerships, including:

  • Engaging students and educators at partner schools in Elkhart and Goshen
  • Supporting Goshen College faculty as they develop inclusion and community engagement strategies to reach Elkhart County learners of all ages
  • Creating new internships focused on community engagement and restorative justice with Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart
  • Developing a joint Master of Social Work degree program with Bluffton University, a Mennonite-affiliated school in Ohio, along with other new programs for adult learners, including  for transfer students from Ivy Tech
  • Collecting and disseminating data and impact in partnership with Horizon Education Alliance
  • Forming business and community advisory councils for the college
  • Pursuing the federal designation of Hispanic Serving Institution
  • Hiring an executive director to lead the newly formed Office of Community Engaged Learning on campus

“We crafted this grant as a triple win proposition,” said Stoltzfus. “Innovative and inclusive educational engagement for learners of all ages in Elkhart County, expanded pathways to education leading into and out of Goshen College, and stronger and more inclusive communities and businesses in our county and region.”

Goshen College’s large scale project is one of only nine selected for funding in the state of Indiana, which together involve 16 Indiana colleges and universities that will be supported by funding in the final phase of Charting the Future, an initiative designed to help colleges and universities in Indiana assess and prioritize the most significant challenges and opportunities they face as higher education institutions and develop strategies to address them.

“Indiana’s colleges and universities face myriad challenges as they work to fulfill their educational missions while adapting to growing financial pressures, rapid demographic and technological changes, and evolving needs and demands of students,” said Ted Maple, the endowment’s vice president for education. “We are pleased with the creative and collaborative approaches the colleges and universities are taking to address these challenges and seize opportunities to better serve their students, institutions, communities and the state of Indiana.”

Lilly Endowment launched the three-phased Charting the Future initiative in 2019 to help leaders of the state’s 38 colleges and universities engage in thoughtful discernment about the future of their institutions and to advance strategic planning and implementation efforts to address key challenges and opportunities. Collaboration was encouraged, especially in the third phase of Charting the Future, and several schools proposed collaborative programs and strategies. Through three phases of grantmaking, Lilly Endowment awarded more than $138 million to the schools.

Through earlier rounds of the initiative, all 38 schools received planning grants, which were approved in December 2019, and implementation grants approved in June and September 2020. The implementation grants funded strategies to improve efforts to prepare students for successful futures and strengthen the schools’ long-term institutional vitality.


About Lilly Endowment Inc.

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.