Lilly: $6.1M from businesses raised for preschool plan

The Indianapolis business community, led by Eli Lilly and Co., has already netted more than half of its goal to support the city’s recently approved preschool program to provide low-income families with early-education programs.

Lilly, which pledged to raise $10 million to support the public-private program from corporate donors, has raised more than $6.1 million so far. Major gifts include $2 million from Lilly, and $1 million each from Indiana University Health, Cummins Inc. and Anthem Inc., the company said.

“This is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to strengthen the fabric of our community,” Rob Smith, president of Lilly’s corporate foundation, said in a written statement.  “We want to thank our elected officials for their bold leadership and look forward to working closely with them early next year to ensure full funding of the first year of the program. We are gratified that many in the business community have made financial pledges and want to thank them for their strong support. We will be engaging other businesses in the months ahead to raise the full $10 million.”

Other donations include $500,000 from PNC Bank, $250,000 from Indianapolis Power and Light, $200,000 from Community Health and $150,000 from Emmis Communications.

Mayor Greg Ballard is scheduled to sign the city’s preschool ordinance Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Warren Township Schools’ Early Childhood Center after a contentious debate over his plan was finally resolved earlier this month.

The Republican mayor encountered resistance from the Democrat-led City-County Council soon after he announced his plan for preschool in July.

When political pressure mounted to find a solution to Democrats’ concerns about funding for the plan, Lilly hosted about 50 CEOs, executives and community leaders at their downtown campus to urge support for Ballard’s plan.

The companies said their investments were contingent on Ballard and the Democrat-controlled council working out a deal on preschool.

Chalkbeat Indiana is a not-for-profit -profit news site covering educational change in public schools.

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