Community Foundation names 2024 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars and Guy D. Gundlach Memorial Scholars

Eight local students awarded substantial scholarships

December 15, 2023

The Community Foundation of Elkhart County is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2024 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships for Elkhart County.

The three students who will receive full-tuition scholarships at any Indiana college or university are:
●    Jenna Harlan of Fairfield High School
●    Kennedy J. Troyer of Northridge High School
●    Cesar Vela of Goshen High School

Each Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship provides for full tuition, required fees and a special allocation of up to $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years. The scholarship is for full-time undergraduate students leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university. Lilly Endowment Community Scholars may also participate in the Lilly Scholars Network (LSN), which connects both current scholars and alumni with resources and opportunities to be active leaders on their campuses and in their communities. Both the scholarship program and LSN are supported by grants from Lilly Endowment to Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) and Indiana Humanities.

Each eligible Elkhart County high school nominates one senior student based on academic performance (including grades and course load), extra-curricular and civic involvement, work experience, career goals, special circumstances, an interview, and an essay. After the field of applicants was narrowed down, nominees were submitted to ICI, the statewide administrator of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program, which approves the final selection of scholarship recipients.
Five additional students who participated in the process are receiving the Guy David Gundlach Memorial Scholarship:
●    Nathaly Araujo Vera, Jimtown High School
●    Sage Borkholder, Concord High School
●    Ethan Henriquez, Northwood High School
●    Jayden Schlabach, Bethany Christian School
●    Ella Troyer, Elkhart High School

Each of these students will receive $5,000 per year for four years to any accredited Indiana college or university.  This memorial scholarship is only one of the many positive initiatives established due to Mr. Gundlach’s gift in 2011. Since the inception of the scholarship, 58 Elkhart County students have received this $20,000 award.

“These first-generation college students are some of Elkhart County’s brightest and we look forward to seeing how they make the most of this opportunity and enhance our community,” said Candy Yoder, chief program officer for the Community Foundation.

Jenna Harlan, the Lilly Endowment Community Scholar from Fairfield, said, “‘This scholarship really opens up a lot of opportunities for me. I had been struggling knowing how I was going to fund college, how I was going to get there. I have been applying for other scholarships, but now I can go to my dream school. I feel like all of the work that I put in was all leading up to this and it was really rewarding.”

Lilly Endowment created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program for the 1998-99 school year and has supported the program every year since with grants totaling in excess of $505 million. More than 5,200 Indiana students have received the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship since the program’s inception, including 97 in Elkhart County.

The primary purposes of the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program are: 1) to help raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana; 2) to increase awareness of the beneficial roles Indiana community foundations can play in their communities; and 3) to encourage and support the efforts of current and past Lilly Endowment Community Scholars to engage with each other and with Indiana business, governmental, educational, nonprofit and civic leaders to improve the quality of life in Indiana generally and in local communities throughout the state.

James Rieckhoff, a member of the Career Pathways Committee that helps guide the scholarship program for the Community Foundation, added, “These scholarships are an important investment in our young people and our community. They are truly impressive and we are so pleased to award these scholarships, in partnership with Lilly Endowment.”

The Community Foundation awards more than $2.5 million in scholarships annually. Its Universal Application for high school and adult students unlocks consideration for more than 30 different scholarships. That application opens January 1 and is due by March 1.

The Community Foundation of Elkhart County partners with donors to leverage their philanthropy in ways that transform lives. Since 1989, the Community Foundation has helped generous donors to meet community needs, provide scholarship opportunities to local students, and make grants to nonprofit organizations working to improve Elkhart County. The Community Foundation strives to be a local entity known for inspiring good and impacting success.

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 development, education and religion. Although the Endowment funds programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

Since 1997, Independent Colleges of Indiana has administered the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program statewide with funding provided by Lilly Endowment. Founded in 1948, ICI serves as the collective voice for the state’s 29 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates.