The Krannert Charitable Trust was established in 1960 by a million-dollar gift from Indianapolis philanthropists Ellnora and Herman Krannert. The Krannerts’ aim was to fund major projects, creating centers of excellence in the fields of education, medicine, youth services, and the performing arts. The fund was a trust rather than a charitable foundation, therefore, the Krannert Charitable Trust was designed to dissolve within 15 years after the deaths of Mr. and Mrs. Krannert. He died in 1972; she died two years later. The trust gave its last grant and was legally dissolved in 1987.

Herman C. Krannert, September 16, 1955 Credit: The Bretzman Collection, Indiana Historical Society View Source

During its 27-year existence, it received $62 million from the Krannerts and paid out $200 million in grants.

Herman Krannert (1887-1972) was born in Chicago and moved to Indiana in 1917, where he managed a paperboard facility in Anderson. In 1925, Krannert and his wife, Ellnora, moved to Indianapolis to found Inland Container Corporation, a manufacturer of corrugated packaging. During the four decades of his leadership, the firm grew to a worldwide operation encompassing 25 factories.

The Krannert Charitable Trust supported numerous institutions of higher education, most of them in the Midwest. Recipients include Indiana University, Purdue University, University of Illinois, University of Evansville, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Anderson College (now University), Indiana Central College (now University Of Indianapolis), and Harvard Business School.

Medicine was another important focus of the Krannert Trust. Gifts funded buildings at Methodist Hospital and at the Indiana University School of Medicine. The trust also established the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at Wishard Memorial Hospital, one of the nation’s top cardiac research and teaching facilities.

Ellnora Decker Krannert, ca. 1960s Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

In the area of community and youth development, the trust made generous gifts to Junior Achievement, the Krannert YMCA, and The Children’S Museum, as well as to the Hoosier Dome, Pan American Plaza, and the University Place Conference Center. In the arts, the trust contributed substantially to the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and to the renovation of the Indiana Theatre and the Circle Theatre. Its contributions to the Indianapolis Museum Of Art, where Herman Krannert served as chairman of the board of trustees, included the major gift for the Krannert Pavilion.

Revised February 2021

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