Indiana State University Newsroom

Lilly Endowment awards new $6M gift for Networks Financial Institute

January 25, 2010

On the heels of a global financial crisis, the Indiana State University Foundation has received a $6 million gift from Lilly Endowment to advance financial services public policy, research, and education.

The gift will benefit Networks Financial Institute (NFI) and the Donald W. Scott College of Business. It comes as the nation continues to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression and amid proposed national reforms of insurance and other industry operations.

The latest gift brings the total amount invested in NFI by Lilly Endowment to $29 million since 2003 and supports three areas: public policy and research in insurance and other financial services sectors, financial literacy, and professional development for top financial services students in the Scott College of Business.

In public policy, NFI has become known for its annual insurance reform summits in Washington, D.C., its in-depth financial services research, and its outreach to industry policymakers and business leaders in Indiana and nationwide, said Elizabeth Coit, executive director of NFI.

"Based on the work to date, the university and NFI are in a great position to inform financial services policy and structure. As a higher education institution we can be objective," Coit said.

"ISU and Networks Financial Institute will strengthen programming in Washington and Indianapolis to play an even greater role in informing public policy about financial services," said Jack Maynard, ISU's provost and vice president for academic affairs.

Financial education is also being expanded by the university, which designated financial services as one of two ISU programs of national distinction.

NFI research reveals that only one in four Americans feels well-informed about managing household finances. Studies also show millions of Americans are without bank accounts, and personal savings rates fell while debt rates soared during the past 20 years.

NFI's financial literacy programs are best known through the Money Bus and the Kids Count curriculum for elementary students. Since 2006, more than 10,000 Indiana elementary students have completed study of basic financial concepts, such as earning income, developing budgets, saving and spending.

To provide greater state and national access to the Kids Count program, NFI continues to develop online, interactive learning tools and is partnering with the Scott College to expand programs for older students and young adults.

"These programs are aimed at increasing knowledge and confidence in financial concepts and skills for informed and responsible financial decision making," said Nancy Merritt, dean of the Scott College of Business. ISU recently approved a personal finance course as part of its general education curriculum in quantitative literacy.

The new gift also extends student professional development at ISU. Currently NFI provides four-year, full -tuition scholarships and delivers an intensive professional development program for 40 Networks Scholars each year, as well as the university's Gongaware and President's Scholars who are business majors seeking careers in financial services. ISU will extend professional development activities to students in the university's Honors Program and to other students in business fields.

"ISU and NFI already do much to serve the state of Indiana and the nation," said ISU President Dan Bradley. This gift will help to further develop this important niche. We owe a great deal of thanks to Lilly Endowment for its tremendous support which has already meant so much in advancing financial education and research in the Scott College of Business and in support of our students."

The $6 million gift from Lilly Endowment is one of the largest philanthropic gifts in ISU's history. It comes just months after the October launch of "March On! The Campaign for Indiana State University," the ISU Foundation's first comprehensive fundraising campaign, and the naming of the Scott College of Business. The campaign thus far has raised $55 million toward its goal of $85 million for student support, teaching and faculty development, program support, and facilities.

"We are very grateful to Lilly Endowment for its continued vote of confidence in NFI, which has truly been a leading edge initiative for the university and the Scott College of Business," said Mike Alley, vice president of the university's board of trustees and national chair of the foundation's "March On!" campaign.

Alley, who also is chairman and CEO of Integra Bank and an alumnus of the ISU College of Business, said the university is excited about the continued evolution of NFI and the financial services program.

Photos: - Networks Scholars at Indiana State University pose for a group photo. Professional development programs for the scholars will be expanded to other students in the Donald W. Scott College of Business thanks to a new $6 million gift from Lilly Endowment. - The Money Bus, part of Networks Financial Institute at Indiana State University, provides a mobile financial literacy classroom for elementary school students.


Contact: Nancy Merritt, dean, Donald W. Scott College of Business, Indiana State University, 812-237-2000 or