PCCF Names New 2024 Lilly Scholar

North Putnam's Gabrielle Simonson Named Putnam County's 2024 Lilly Scholar

May 3, 2024


Gabrielle Simonson was announced as Putnam County’s 2024 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar (LECS) Friday afternoon by the Putnam County Community Foundation. Simonson, a senior at North Putnam High School, is the daughter of Jason and Jennifer Simonson.


The LECS provides for full tuition, required fees, and a special allocation of up to $900 per year for required books and required equipment for four years of undergraduate study on a full-time basis leading to a baccalaureate degree at any eligible Indiana public or private nonprofit college or university.


“This scholarship is life-changing for my family. It relieves a lot of anxiety and worry about paying for college,” said Gabbi. “It also provides a lasting connection to the community that has supported me throughout my life.”


Selection criteria for the LECS is based on scholastic abilities and intellectual pursuits, capacity to lead and motivate fellow students, social commitment and extracurricular involvement, and the ability to articulate career plans that demonstrate motivation and initiative. 


Gabbi excels in and out of the classroom, earning a spot in North Putnam’s top ten students in her class. She serves as FFA Chapter President where she has gained valuable leadership skills, and she represents North Putnam as the District VII FFA Vice President. Through FFA, she serves as a mentor to local elementary students through the PALS program. She is also a member of the varsity gold team, student council, National Honor Society, Putnam County Youth Philanthropy Committee, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Putnam County 4-H Dog Club.


Since 2020, Gabbi has volunteered as part of the Zoo Teen Program at the Indianapolis Zoo where she has had the opportunity to explore her passion for conservation and education. She hopes to turn her love for animals into a career after studying biology and zoology at Ball State University.


This announcement, typically made in the fall of each year, is not the first announcement of the 2024 Lilly Scholar. In December, Greencastle’s Isaac Hertenstein was announced as the 2024 recipient.

Hertenstein’s recent decision to attend school out of state means that he must decline the LECS which may only be used at an Indiana college or university.


With 13 qualified applicants and four standout finalists, the LECS Selection Committee felt prepared for this special circumstance.


“While this situation is not typical, we knew that our pool of candidates for the 2024 award were exceptional students with many opportunities available to them. Our committee approves a nominee as well as a series of alternates to ensure we are prepared for situations like this,” said Jenna Lanham, LECS Selection Committee member. “This turn of events simply means that more local students have the opportunity to pursue their goals at the schools of their dreams.”


With this award, Gabbi becomes the 43rd Putnam County Lilly Scholar.


While not the norm, this is not the first time the Putnam County Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship has been awarded to an alternate. In 2007 and again in 2015, the award was ultimately granted to an alternate.


Following the rigorous selection process, the LECS Selection Committee submits their nominee and alternates to Independent Colleges of Indiana, Inc. (ICI) for the final selection of the recipient.  ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 30 regionally accredited degree granting, nonprofit, private colleges and universities in the state which administers the scholarship program. 


For additional information about the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program or other opportunities at the Putnam County Community Foundation, contact Sarah Stone at sstone@pcfoundation.org or call the office at 765.653.4978.

The Putnam County Community Foundation (PCCF) works alongside individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to build a stronger Putnam County. PCCF is home to more than 340 charitable funds and has awarded more than $19 million in grants and scholarships since its founding in 1985. To learn more about PCCF, visit www.pcfoundation.org or call 765.653.4978.


Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based 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. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it 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. The Endowment funds significant programs throughout the United States, especially in the field of religion. However, it maintains a special commitment to its founders’ hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.


Since 1997, Independent Colleges of Indiana has administered the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program statewide with funding provided by Lilly Endowment. Founded in 1948, ICI serves as the collective voice for the state’s 29 private, nonprofit colleges and universities. ICI institutions employ over 22,000 Hoosiers and generate a total local economic impact of over $5 billion annually. Students at ICI colleges have Indiana’s highest four-year, on-time graduation rates, and ICI institutions produce 30 percent of Indiana’s bachelor’s degrees while enrolling 20 percent of its undergraduates.

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