Economic Opportunities through Education by 2015 (EcO15) now called the EcO Network was created in 2007 by the community foundations of Southeast Indiana, coordinated by the Heritage Fund, the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, in partnership with the Community Education Coalition (CEC) of Columbus, Indiana (which has served as the region’s backbone organization since its inception). The EcO Network was launched with an unprecedented $38 million grant provided by Lilly Endowment Inc. to support educational infrastructure and common support services focused on economic opportunity. In 2012 a second grant of $5 million was provided by Lilly Endowment to further broaden and deepen the work of the region. It is estimated that the EcO Network stakeholders have leveraged an additional $19.7 million (cash and in-kind) over the nearly nine years of working together.
The EcO Network focuses on increasing educational attainment, especially linked to economic sectors that are the most well-paying in Southeast Indiana, and currently focused on advanced manufacturing (representing 30% of people employed in the region) and health care (representing 10% of people employed in the region).