2023 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar Announced

The Community Foundation of Whitley County is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2023 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship for Whitley County – Grace Schaekel, a senior at Columbia City High School.                                    

Lilly Endowment Community Scholars are known for their community involvement, academic achievement, character, and leadership. In her recommendation letter for Grace, math facilitator Joni Smith wrote “This young lady is well-organized and highly self-motivated, who has achieved great awards while maintaining a very rigorous schedule. Her leadership ability, work ethic and communication skills are qualities she not only exhibits at school, but also at her job and in all aspects of her life.”

Smith went on to write “She is also very active in athletics. She is a swimmer for Columbia City High School and Whitley County Rapids Team. She also plays soccer for the high school team. She has won numerous awards voted on by her teammates and coaches. Some of the awards she has won are; coaches award, honesty award, responsibility award and leadership award. She is very active in the community, volunteering for church volunteer work, cleaning up in the community. She also volunteers for the Youth Swim camps and Youth Soccer camps. She is at First Friday’s volunteering to sell food and refreshments for the Columbia City Soccer Team.” 

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. The scholarship is for undergraduate students studying 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 both current scholars and alumni with resources and opportunities to be active leaders on their campuses and in their communities. Both the scholarship program and LSN are supported by grants from Lilly Endowment to Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) and Indiana Humanities.

Schaekel intends to further her education by pursuing a major in communications, and double minor in political science and criminology, with the intent to become a lawyer.

In determining Whitley County’s Lilly Endowment Community Scholar nominee, consideration was given to criteria that included scholarship, financial need, work history, community service, school activities, and interview performance.  After the field of applicants was narrowed down, nominees were submitted to ICI, the statewide administrator of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program, which approves the final selection of scholarship recipients.

“This year, 20 highly qualified applicants participated in Whitley County’s Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship selection process,” said September McConnell, Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation.

Other finalists, in alphabetical order:

  • Vicky Li, Churubusco High School
  • Isaac Rentschler, Columbia City High School
  • Madison Straub, Columbia City High School
  • Anne Wolfe, Columbia City High School

The runners up will each receive a scholarship made possible by the Community Foundation of Whitley County. 

Lilly Endowment created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program for the 1998-99 school year and has supported the program every year since with grants totaling in excess of $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.

Since 1998, the Community Foundation of Whitley County has awarded a total of 41 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships. The total amount awarded to local Whitley County students through this opportunity exceeds $3 million.

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 Indiana has 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.

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