The University of Notre Dame has received a $3-million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support enFocus, a program that aims to implement bold, innovative solutions to improve the fabric of the South Bend region.
The grant is part of the Endowment’s Initiative to Promote Opportunities Through Educational Collaborations, through which Indiana’s 39 accredited colleges and universities have received a combined $62.7 million to improve employment opportunities in Indiana for the state’s college graduates.
Notre Dame will use the grant to continue and expand the enFocus fellowship program. enFocus fellows are graduates of Notre Dame’s ESTEEM (Engineering, Science, Technology and Entrepreneurship Excellence Master’s) program who are hired in to one- or two-year paid fellowship positions with local businesses, nonprofits and the public sector.
“On behalf of the Colleges of Engineering and Science and the Mendoza College of Business, which have done so much to support the creation and on-going operations of enFocus through the ESTEEM Program, I want to thank Lilly Endowment for this significant investment in the University of Notre Dame and in our broader community,” said David Murphy, associate dean for entrepreneurship for the Colleges of Science and Engineering and director of the ESTEEM Program. “enFocus fellows are highly talented STEM graduates focused on innovation and entrepreneurship, and they have the potential to fundamentally change the long-term trajectory of economic and community development in South Bend and across the state of Indiana."
The enFocus program, launched last year by the ESTEEM Program in collaboration with South Bend area business and community leaders, creates pathways for ESTEEM graduates to help local employers create and deploy innovative economic development initiatives. In their first year, enFocus fellows helped identify and implement savings of $3.2 million for the City of South Bend, which will now be used to support schools, emergency services and healthcare clinics around the city. The enFocus program was highlighted this year in Notre Dame’s “What Would You Fight For?” video series that airs nationally on NBC during Fighting Irish home football broadcasts.
Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., with gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical company. 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.