INDIANAPOLIS -- The philanthropic arm of drugmaker Eli Lilly is increasing its public backing of the United Way. The Lilly Foundation is partnering with the United Way on domestic and international efforts, including to increase pre-Kindergarten education in Indiana and childhood health.
Lilly is already a big contributor to the United Way in Central Indiana, but the collaboration announced Thursday will expand that in the United States and to six countries. Lilly Foundation president Rob Smith says the United Way is uniquely positioned to tackle the complex problems of early childhood education.
"For example, what we did locally with United Way last year to pass a pre-K program in Indianapolis I think is the ideal illustration of how we want to collaborate with United Way and others to drive measurable impact," he said.
Lilly and the United Way will lobby for a $20 million preschool scholarship program, the organizations said. And they’ll advocate funding a statewide pre-K program.
Within Indiana, Smith says they’ll work to expand pre-kindergarten opportunities and the United Way’s 2-1-1 phone hotline service.
"Given the needs in our community, the demand on 2-1-1 is quite high," he said. "And it will go beyond just the ability of just private philanthropy to support."
Smith says they hope to be able to increase the donations going to United Way both through Lilly employees and the foundation, but also outside sources.
Internationally, they will work to improve treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis and diabetes.