Scott County Community Foundation (“SCCF”) has received a $50,000 planning grant as part of the eighth phase of Lilly Endowment Inc.’s initiative, Giving Indiana Funds for Tomorrow (GIFT VIII).  With the grant, the community foundation will partner with Indiana University Southeast to create a Strategic Action Plan for early care and education in Scott County.

Scott County Community Foundation is one of 92 community foundations and affiliate funds in Indiana receiving planning grants through GIFT VIII. These grants are designed to help community foundations collaborate with local partners to engage broad and diverse stakeholders in their communities and deepen their understanding of their communities’ highest-priority challenges and opportunities. In 2024, SCCF will have the opportunity request funding to implement strategic initiatives and activities developed during the planning period that address especially compelling needs in Scott County

“We are excited to continue our early childhood care and education efforts in Scott County through this planning grant,” said SCCF Executive Director Jaime Toppe. “Our community has made great strides in early care and education, to include having preschool in every elementary school in the county, providing free books through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, creating three new StoryWalk installations to encourage literacy and interaction with nature, and more. Our Early Childhood Committee has collaborated within the county as well as our region, and we are ready to take the next steps to build on this progress.”

Dr. Melissa Fry with Indiana University Southeast’s Applied Research and Education Center will provide an up-to-date assessment of access, affordability, and quality of early care and education, as well as a plan for advancing the community toward high quality birth-to-five care for every child. There will be listening sessions and focus groups that the community is encouraged to attend. More information on dates will be provided after the new year.

“The Early Childhood Committee is thankful for this opportunity by Lilly Endowment,” said SCCF Early Childhood Committee Chairperson Emily Jordan. “This planning project will aid our committee to learn more about early care and education. Our plan is to not only learn leading practices from our Scott County providers, including in-home, ministries and daycare facilities, but also from other trailblazing providers throughout our state and nation. Being able to go, learn and visit other communities, we would like to bring more knowledge of early care and education back to Scott County and boost the availability of high quality early care and education in our community.”

Lilly Endowment created the GIFT initiative in 1990 to help local communities in Indiana develop the philanthropic capacity to identify local needs and challenges and work with other organizations to help their communities thrive.  Through GIFT VIII, Lilly Endowment has allocated up to $210 million to support Indiana’s community foundations in growing their financial resources and further strengthening their ability to address their community’s highest-priority challenges and opportunities.

Scott County Community Foundation has been in existence since December 1996. Since awarding its first community grants totaling $50,000 in 1997, SCCF has been Scott County’s partner for positive change. Scholarships and grants totaling more than $6 million have made it possible for local students to attend college and for the diverse needs of our residents to be served. In addition, more than $13 million has been funneled to Scott County through the Community Foundation due to the generosity of Lilly Endowment. Projects that have been possible due to this funding include the CAPE educational initiatives, Lifelong Learning Center, Scott County Family YMCA, Scott County Clearinghouse, Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program, recreational areas in Austin, Lexington, Scottsburg, and more. For more information, please call 812-752-2057, email or stop in the office at 60 N. Main St., Scottsburg. You may also visit

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private 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 developmenteducation 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.