Families First awarded $7.5 million Lilly Endowment grant

Published: January 13, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS—Families First, a social service organization helping build strong families in Central Indiana for nearly two centuries, has been awarded a grant of $7.5 million from the Lilly Endowment for the sole purpose of ensuring the organization’s long-term financial sustainability. Unlike other grant awards that are often directed at starting new programs or expanding services, this gift is intended to position Families First to be viable for many years to come.

Of the $7.5 million grant, $6.35 million will go directly into the Families First endowment; the earnings from the endowment will be used to cover many administrative costs so that a greater portion of donations to the agency can be used for direct client service. The remaining $1.15 million will be applied toward current strategic priorities to increase revenue and control costs; focus areas include recruiting and retaining a top-quality workforce, making critical IT infrastructure improvements, developing future leaders, and increasing volunteer and corporate engagement.

Families First was selected to receive a grant award as part of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s commitment to supporting human service organizations that strive to improve the lives of low-income individuals and families and strengthen their communities by building social capital. The grant to Families First is part of a $100 million grant initiative supporting 15 human service organizations serving Indiana as they strengthen their long-term financial sustainability.

Families First serves more than 8,000 clients annually in central Indiana to address the challenges of parenting, family conflict, trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, mental health issues, and the needs of older and challenged adults. A sliding-fee scale is used to ensure services are affordable. Charitable gifts are essential to underwrite the difference between what families can afford to pay and what it actually costs to provide the services. By using the Lilly Endowment grant to invest in critical infrastructure and long-term sustainability, Families First will be able to focus individual and corporate donations directly on the services provided to the community’s most vulnerable citizens.

“We are absolutely thrilled and profoundly grateful to Lilly Endowment for this unprecedented investment in our vision of a community of healthy, capable and loving families,” said David Siler, President/CEO of Families First. “Since our founding in 1835, Families First has worked every day to prevent family deterioration and help individuals realize their full potential. To be successful in this vital mission, we must continue to attract and retain top mental health professionals, use data to inform our service delivery and public policy advocacy, serve as a community resource on mental and behavioral health issues, leverage partnerships, and meaningfully engage the community in our work.”

“The size and breadth of this grant clearly demonstrates that the Lilly Endowment believes very strongly in the positive impact of Families First and wants to ensure our work into the future,” said Chris York, board chair. “Having served central Indiana families for more than 180 years, our organization is now positioned to continue its mission for generations to come. We could not be more excited about the opportunities created by this generous gift.”

About Families First

Founded in 1835, Families First is the oldest not-for-profit social service organization in our community. Guided by the belief that healthy families are the building blocks of a strong community, Families First works to create healthier communities by strengthening families and individuals during life challenges and changes. Each year more than 8,000 individuals turn to Families First for hope and healing. A broad array of services are offered to address the challenges of parenting, family conflict, trauma, substance abuse, domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, mental health issues, and the needs of older and challenged adults. An affiliate member of Mental Health America, Families First is accredited by the national Council on Accreditation (COA), attesting that it meets the highest standards of professional performance. Services are provided in the homes of clients, at various community sites, and through offices in Indianapolis and Greenfield.

About the Lilly Endowment

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family - J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli - through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly & Company. The Endowment is primarily committed to the causes of community development, education and religion and has a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state, Indiana.