Americans give generously to education, second only to religion, reaching a national all-time high of $64 billion in 2019. Individuals, corporations, and foundations give to a wide variety of education institutions: K-12 public school foundations, independent schools, higher education, and individual scholarships. In 2019, high net worth donors made significant gifts in order to increase higher education access for all demographics. Indianapolis has approximately 50 foundations, representing a variety of types and sizes, which sponsor programs for schools.

Aerial View of Butler University, 2019

Two of the state’s largest private, nonprofit universities are headquartered in Indianapolis: Butler University and Marian University. Approximately 10 percent of Butler’s annual revenue comes from individuals and grants. The Butler Foundation provides an additional 2.5 percent of revenue from investment income. Marian University derives approximately 15 percent of annual revenue from individuals and grants. Indianapolis also is home to many Indiana University and Purdue University alumni who support their alma maters’ foundations.

Twenty-four private, nonprofit secondary schools operate in the Indianapolis area. The Roman Catholic denomination operates the six largest, and eight of the twelve largest. Non-denominational Christian, Lutheran, Baptist, and Seventh-Day Adventists operate other private secondary schools. Park Tudor School is the largest private secondary school with no religious affiliation, dating back to 1902 (Tudor Hall School for Girls) and 1914 with Park School (The Brooks School for Boys). The Park Tudor Trust, Park Tudor Foundation, and Parents Association all support the school financially.

Marian University Homecoming, 2018

Religious denominations operate the largest Indianapolis-area private, nonprofit primary schools. The largest enrolling private primary school, the Oaks Academy, which began with leadership from Tabernacle Presbyterian Church, relies heavily on private contributions and grants, which provide approximately 20 percent of its annual revenue.

Public school foundations are a relatively recent phenomenon. Many began as parents’ associations or teacher grant programs. The Indianapolis Public School Foundation began in 1985. All of Indianapolis’ townships operate school foundations that support the school systems’ educational missions.

Park Tudor School, 2009

Private grant-making foundations in Indianapolis regularly award grants to this array of higher education, secondary, and primary schools. Notable individual scholarship programs include the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program, Central Indiana Community Foundation, and 21st Century Scholars.

Special purpose nonprofits located in Indianapolis support educational missions. The nonprofit organization, The Mind Trust, formed in 1996 under Mayor Bart Peterson to develop high-quality charter schools in Indianapolis as a way to address the city’s education needs. Through fellowships and incubators, the Mind Trust has helped support the launch of 38 schools in Indianapolis. The Mind Trust is supported entirely by individual contributions and grants.

Lumina Foundation, established in 2000 and ranked among the 50 largest foundations in the U.S., is the largest national grant-making foundation devoted to education policy.

Revised July 2021
 

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