Wheeler Mission receives $3 million from Lilly Endowment supporting expansion of Center for Women & Children


Wheeler Mission announced on August 7, 2019 it has raised more than $7.4 million toward its $12 million Building for Change capital campaign, including $3 million from Lilly Endowment.  The Building for Change capital campaign supports Wheeler Mission’s multimillion-dollar expansion of the Center for Women & Children.


The Center for Women & Children provides short-term emergency housing for women and children and services to help build stability in their lives and find secure, long-term housing.


Wheeler Mission President and CEO Rick Alvis, and Capital Campaign Chair Allison Melangton, Sr. Vice President, Events, Hulman Motorsports Properties thanked Lilly Endowment, whose support is enabling Wheeler Mission to break ground on the expanded facility this fall. Lilly Endowment will contribute up to an additional $1 million to the project through a one-to-one matching funds challenge, which began in July.


“We are extremely grateful to Lilly Endowment for its contribution to our Center for Women & Children. Once transformed, this facility will provide much-needed services to homeless women and children in Indianapolis,” said Alvis. “However, our work is not over. The fundraising process will continue because the need will continue. I want to remind the community that we must come together to change the trajectory of homelessness in Indianapolis forever.”


“Indianapolis is facing a crisis regarding the number of women and children experiencing homelessness. This is solvable and this gift from Lilly Endowment will help Wheeler Mission take huge strides towards life-changing solutions for these vulnerable members of our community”, said Melangton.


Once completed, the Center for Women & Children will offer:

  • 164 new permanent beds, including 30 transitional apartments for mothers with children
  • 40 new emergency shelter beds
  • 84 new family shelter beds
  • A dayroom, offering women and children relief from the streets
  • A new, secure child care area
  • Indoor play space for children
  • Expanded on-site medical and mental health clinics
  • Redesigned and expanded dining areas to promote a more family-friendly environment
  • Appointment visiting rooms for individuals and families meeting with community service providers
  • Expanded education center
  • 50 percent increase in programming, including counseling, job training, addiction recovery, social enterprise and other services
  • Additional staff to increase the guest-to-staff ratio, creating a more secure environment for women and women with children


Every month, Wheeler Mission receives more than 700 requests for beds that cannot be accommodated in the current Center for Women & Children. With the $12 million capital campaign launched last fall, Wheeler Mission has the opportunity to drastically decrease this number and deeply assist the largest growing homeless populations: women and children.


Wheeler Mission operates without government funding. Indianapolis is one of the few cities that does not have a municipally run shelter.


Individuals and companies are encouraged to donate and support the Building for Change campaign. The Lilly Endowment match applies to dollars raised up to $1 million during the matching period, which ends Oct. 31, 2020. For more information and ways you can help Wheeler Mission, visit BuildingforChange.org.




Wheeler Mission

Founded in 1893, Wheeler Mission has been serving the Indianapolis community through a variety of programs for the most disadvantaged citizens – the poor and the homeless. Funding for these programs has always come from the private sector as Wheeler does not receive government funds.


Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a national private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family – J. K. Lilly Sr. and sons Eli and J.K. Jr – through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Co. 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.


Media Contact

Steve Kerr