Lifting up Local Scholars

Lifting up Local Scholars

Lilly grant increases support for 21st Century Scholar Success

A recent $4 million Lilly Endowment Grant will enhance support for IU South Bend 21st Century Scholars thanks to the university’s partnership with the Community Foundation of St. Joseph County. The grant will boost the 21st Century Scholar Success Initiative, an effort to dramatically increase the number of local low-income students who achieve well-paying jobs in our region by completing post-secondary degrees through Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program.

In eighth grade, students sign a pledge that guarantees a grant to cover the cost of four years of college tuition at any public college in Indiana if they fulfill the pledge requirements. “For the 21st Century Scholar program to be successful, we need to be with these students from eighth grade until they finish college,” said Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Douglas McMillen. Therefore, the 21st Century Scholar Success Coalition brought together 24 entities that are working in concert to help these students finish the requirements from grades 8-12.

“IU South Bend is thrilled to be a part of this coalition aiming to increase access to higher education for local students and families,” said Chancellor Susan Elrod, one of the founding members of the 21st Century Scholar Success Coalition. “As this region’s public university, IUSB’s mission is to support anyone who wants to pursue higher education. This funding will help us provide greater support for these students so they can receive a college degree and pursue their passions.”

IU South Bend will work closely with the Community Foundation and other collaborating partners on a three-year project. The funding allows for staffing of an additional success coach to provide outreach and support services to all IUSB 21st Century Scholars.

McMillen noted that IU South Bend’s current initiatives to support low-income student success have led to improved retention and graduation rates for students with Pell Grants in the last decade. IU South Bend currently enrolls more than 350 21st Century Scholars. To further enhance initiatives already in place, two success coaches will provide dedicated advising for IUSB 21st Century Scholars and implement and coordinate other aspects of a comprehensive program, including:

Summer Jump Start Bridge Program

21st Century Scholars will be invited to participate in a special one-week program with a variety of academic, career planning, and social activities designed to foster their sense of belonging. 21st Century Scholars will learn the campus, meet their advisors and coaches, develop social contacts, and gain other student success skills.

First Year Seminars

First year scholars join with their 21st Century Scholar peers in cohortbased sections of the First Year Seminars, which help students learn a variety of student success skills from writing research papers to using the library and exploring career options. Additionally, scholars will take part in IU’s MoneySmarts U financial literacy program, special career assessment counseling and services, peer and alumni/ community mentoring, and distinct cultural, social, and academic activities. Scholars will also be able to take advantage of existing IU South Bend programs such as living in River Crossing residence halls and access to summer On-Track scholarships to support scholars during summer school.

It’s a win-win for students, their families, and our communities. “Data shows that students who complete the 21st Century Scholar program are on track to close the achievement gap between them and their more affluent peers by 2025,” said McMillen. “Degree completion and student success for 21st Century Scholars is good for the long-term health of our community. About 65 percent of IU South Bend graduates stay in the area to work, raise a family, and improve the quality of life in the community.”