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Lilly Endowment gives $10M to improve charities' facilities

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Lilly Endowment will give United Way of Central Indiana $10 million to replenish its capital improvement program, which helps not-for-profit agencies repair and upgrade their buildings.

With previous grants from Lilly Endowment, UWCI has distributed $90.8 million since 2000. United Way CEO Ellen Annala said in today's announcement that the extension "could not have come at a better time," as the organization has learned of more than 20 potential projects in the planning stages.

United Way will distribute the money over the next four years to member agencies in its six-county area. The capital improvement grants typically do not exceed 50 percent of project costs.

Most of the $10 million will be directed toward United Way member agencies for their projects. United Way will also allocate $2.5 million for "community" projects in which it collaborates with other entities, said Bob Rush, United Way's director of capital funds. He said United Way is hoping to see some proposals for a community center or other projects on the east side of Indianapolis, especially near 38th Street and Keystone.

United Way's capital improvement program began in 2000 with a $60 million grant from Lilly Endowment. That was renewed in 2003 and 2006, each time with $20 million.

"We have been very pleased with United Way's administration of the funds," Lilly Endowment President N. Clay Robbins said in a prepared statement. He noted that a committee of volunteers with expertise in architecture, engineering and finance reviews each project that's proposed, ensuring that specifications, designs and plants are "solidly conceived and well thought out."

"The committee's conscientious engagement in the allocation of these funds has significantly enhanced their impact on the delivery of human services in our community," Robbins said.

Since its inception, the capital improvement program has helped fund 116 projects for 69 agencies. Annala said the Lilly Endowment grant spurred other donations, resulting in more than $250 million spent over the nine-year period.  United Way has also used the investment earnings to help its member agencies and others offset rising heating and gasoline costs and upgrade technology.

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