Letter: Conner Prairie receives ‘extraordinary’ grant



We had an extra reason to be thankful in the days before Thanksgiving as we received some extraordinary news.

Lilly Endowment, the largest philanthropic organization in Indiana, awarded a $7.5 million grant to Conner Prairie, part of $100 million in grants to 14 cultural organizations in the central Indiana arts community.

Founded in 1934 by Eli Lilly and independent since 2006, Conner Prairie has transformed in the past decade into an immersive, family-friendly history park with hands-on learning about science, the arts, nature and life in Indiana. The gift will ensure that Conner Prairie will be a viable and progressive institution for the next 100 years – and beyond.

Conner Prairie will welcome nearly 400,000 visitors this year, including about 65,000 students. We plan to use $6 million of the grant to bolster the endowment that Mr. Lilly created as it supports all that we do, especially the expense of reduced or free admission for students, veterans and visitors on public assistance. The remaining $1.5 million will be used to help raise future financial support and ensure our long-term sustainability, specifically to fund a renovation of our historic Chinese House, used for receptions, corporate retreats, weddings and parties; partial funding for an enhanced facility for summer camp programs; and the hiring of additional fundraising professionals to share the story of the new Conner Prairie and its exponentially increased impact on the community.

This grant from Lilly Endowment helps us begin our second decade as an independent organization. We are excited about our future and grateful to the endowment for its foresight and generosity.

Ellen M. Rosenthal

President and CEO

Conner Prairie


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