Indiana State University Newsroom

Networks Financial Institute receives new grant from Lilly Endowment

September 28, 2007

$3 million keeps 'Money Bus,' Scholars program, and important research rolling

A new gift from Lilly Endowment Inc. will ensure continued success and progress in financial literacy outreach, student programs, and research as Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University continues to build and expand.

In announcing the $3 million grant Friday (Sept. 28), university leaders said the funding will allow Networks to continue its innovative work in three critical areas: national leadership in financial services policy, development of innovative student leadership, and addressing the national crisis in financial literacy.

"Lilly Endowment is pleased with the momentum of the Networks program. Its highly acclaimed financial literacy projects and work in financial services and insurance in Washington and Indiana are adding distinction to the university," said Sara B. Cobb, Endowment vice president for education.

Since its launch in 2003, thanks to funding from the Endowment, Networks has provided scholarships to more than 90 ISU business students, conducted a number of state and national forums on regulatory reform and other issues, and worked with the National Council of State Legislatures to train state lawmakers who serve on financial services committees. It also has formed a research unit and provided financial literacy education via the popular "Kids Count on the Money Bus" and accompanying classroom curriculum.

"Networks Financial Institute has become one of the most successful projects in the history of Indiana State University. From the 'Money Bus,' which just this week visited Capitol Hill, to its annual insurance reform summits in Washington and its think tank that not only examines critical issues but offers viable solutions, Networks has emerged as a national - even an international - leader in the financial services industry and in education. We are exceedingly proud of the work Networks has accomplished," said ISU President Lloyd W. Benjamin III.

Noting Indiana State has designated financial services as one of only two university Programs of National Distinction, Benjamin said ISU will accept financial responsibility for up to one-half of all Networks Scholarships by 2010 and for additional initiatives Networks has developed during its start-up phase. In addition, the ISU Foundation will work during its upcoming comprehensive campaign to provide new sources of funding.

"In the meantime, this generous new gift from Lilly Endowment will not only guarantee that this very vital work will continue, it will enable it to be expanded. We are grateful to the Endowment not only for this latest gift but for the many other ways it supports education at Indiana State University and elsewhere," Benjamin said.

The gift also will allow Networks to continue progress towards achieving its long-term vision, including support to increase fundraising capacity, Elizabeth Coit, Networks executive director, said. With the first class of 16 Networks Scholars having graduated from Indiana State this year, alumni will soon be investing their own energies and experience into developing future classes, she noted.

"In addition, Networks must increase its impact on the national debate and take its influence to a higher level. Toward that end, we plan to establish an advisory board of nationally recognized leaders; work to more effectively connect NFI research to user needs in both the public and private sectors; continue to develop and present research on a select agenda of topics; and facilitate effective collaboration among industry leaders, academics, advisors and policymakers," Coit said.

"The College of Business faculty and staff extend appreciation to the Lilly Endowment for its continued support of Indiana State University's Networks Financial Institute," Nancy J. Merritt, newly named dean of the ISU College of Business, said.

"Through its aggressive program of education, research and outreach, NFI has emerged as a national leader and is a significant component of ISU's Financial Services Program of National Distinction. The Lilly Endowment gift continues to support advancement in student programs, research and curriculum and has enabled faculty and senior research fellows to reach national and international audiences with research publications and presentations," Merritt said.

The $3 million Endowment gift will provide funding for Networks Financial Institute through Dec. 31, 2009. The grant includes $912,000 for financial literacy programs; $864,000 for research; and $504,000 for student programs, including funding for two additional classes of Networks Scholars and re-packaging the Kids Count educational model so it can be adapted and replicated in various forms throughout the United States.

Contacts: Liz Coit, executive director, Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University, (317) 536-0281, ext. 701 or or Nancy J. Merritt, dean, College of Business, Indiana State University, (812) 237-2000 or 

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Indiana State University, (812) 237-3743 or