College Awarded $1 Million Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to Increase Digital Fluency
Campus News

Franklin College announced today it has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of its initiative, Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities.  

The grant will support efforts to increase digital fluency for Franklin College students and faculty. Digital fluency is defined as the ability to leverage technology to create new knowledge, address new challenges and new problems and respond with critical thinking, complex problem-solving and social intelligence.

“We are enormously grateful to Lilly Endowment for supporting our digital fluency initiative and this generous investment to ignite it,” said Franklin College President Kerry N. Prather. “This initiative merges the applications of technology in each academic discipline with the content knowledge and the liberal arts foundation that together form our distinctive academic experience. The digital fluency initiative is the next logical step in providing cutting-edge tools for our students across the curriculum, preparing them for the high-tech world they will encounter upon graduation. We are confident that digitally fluent, liberally educated graduates will have the comprehensive skill set to be leaders in the exploding tech sector of the economy.”

The initiative, announced by Lilly Endowment in October 2019, is intended to help leaders of Indiana’s 38 colleges and universities address their key challenges and take advantage of promising opportunities to enhance their relevance and sustainability. Lilly Endowment is encouraging higher education leaders to explore collaborative strategies among colleges and universities in Indiana or around the country and with business, governmental or charitable organizations.

“Digitally fluent students who have a liberal arts education are in demand for employment in Indiana’s technological sector, as well as in other high-demand areas such as education and health care,” said Kristin Flora, Ph.D., acting vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college. “High-touch, immersive-learning experiences will always be the hallmark of the Franklin College experience.  We recognize this opportunity to expand the expertise and preparation of our students to meet 21st century challenges for jobs yet to be created, for crises yet to arise, and for problems yet to be solved.”

The Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities initiative has three phases of grantmaking: A planning phase, through which the college was awarded $100,000 in December 2019, this phase two or implementation phase, and an invitational phase 3 for large-scale proposals. The college has submitted a concept paper for phase 3 grant consideration.   

“These are challenging times for colleges and universities, made more so because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “Higher education leaders recognize that they have to adapt to the changing demographics of undergraduate students, the importance of technology in education and the ever-growing need for students to be career-ready upon graduation. Leaders here in Indiana are responding to these and other challenges with thoughtful, strategic and collaborative approaches that we believe can improve the financial sustainability of the institutions and the educational experiences of their students.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic 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. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment 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 and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

To learn more about the Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities initiative, visit

POSTED Sep 21, 2020