Where are they now? – Joe Bolinger, 1999 Lilly Scholar

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Where are they now?



Joe Bolinger, 1999 Lilly Scholar


We reconnected with Joe Bolinger, one of our 2009 Lilly Scholars. Through the Brown County Community Foundation’s affiliation with Lilly Endowment Inc., Bolinger is one of the over twenty Brown County residents who have received four-year full-tuition scholarships through the Endowment’s Community Scholars Program.

About Joe Bolinger:

With the Lilly Endowment Scholarship Bolinger attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana for his undergraduate degree. Bollinger was a double major studying philosophy and religion. Upon graduating from Earlham in 2003, he entered Unitarian Universalist ministry for a brief period of time. Eventually, Bolinger realized his passion for government and politics.

After his time at Earldom, he joined Indiana University’s (IU) Master’s of Public Affairs program through the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). After graduating from SPEA in 2007, Bolinger was one of a select few chosen to participate in the Presidential Management Fellowship. The prestigious program offers participants a fast track career advancement in a Federal government agency. At the same time, he had been accepted to the doctoral program in public policy at IU (jointly run by SPEA and Political Science). After much consideration, Bolinger chose to purse his Ph.D. at IU and opt out of the Presidential Management Fellowship.

Currently, Bolinger studies U.S. social welfare policy, and his dissertation will focus on government housing vouchers. He is interested in the role housing vouchers play in neighborhood mobility for low-income households. Bollinger is “interested in issues of racial and economic inequality and how the nation can (or fail to) address it through government policies.”



Outside of work, Bolinger is a semi-professional musician. He plays the banjo, pens songs and sings in two bands – Indiana Boys and Dakota Joe. Bolinger plays throughout Brown County and the southern Indiana area.


Lilly Scholarship Success Story:

“I used the [Lilly] scholarship to attend Earlham College in Richmond. I probably would not have been able to go there without it, certainly not without a lot of debt. It’s a really great little school, and I learned a lot and met a lot of friends from all over the country and the world who ended up teaching me as much as I learned in class.”



The Brown County Community Foundation congratulates Bolinger on his educational success and applauds him for pursuing his passion through higher education. His interest in social welfare will undoubtedly help create stronger Hoosier communities. Bolinger is one of many Lilly Scholars pursuing a career in Indiana and working to make our Hoosier state a better place to live and to work.