Ivy Tech Community College Awarded $5 Million For Underrepresented Minority and Low-Income Students Program

Lilly Endowment grant supports new strategies to address the challenges affecting higher education

Indianapolis, Ind. – Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded Ivy Tech Community College a $5 million grant to help support the Ivy Achieves program, a student-centered effort to improve the retention and degree completion of Black, Latino, Native American, and first-generation college students.

Lilly Endowment made the grant through Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, an initiative to help schools across the state improve their efforts to prepare students for successful futures and strengthen their long-term institutional financial sustainability.

Ivy Achieves is a program focused on equity, as low-income students of color and first-generation college students are more likely to have the least knowledge of higher education systems, and fewer social and financial resources. The program comprises five main components: app development; deliberate academic and career advising; student engagement; incentives for participation, including a free course retake; and evaluation and expansions. It will also have two separate advisory committees: external and student. Each campus will have a staff and faculty champion to lead the work and activity will be tracked using Ivy Tech’s mobile app, IvyMobile.

“Ivy Tech students earn the majority of associate degrees and sub-baccalaureate credentials in Indiana, which are critical to meet workforce demands and obtain middle- and high-skills careers leading to prosperity,” said Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann. “We, and many other colleges, see lower course success, retention, and completion rates for our non-white students. Often this relates to these students being first in their household to pursue college, along with additional barriers to non-white students. Ivy Achieves will focus on supporting these students.”

In the Ivy Achieves program, students will earn “points” by participating in activities related to increased student success. Activities include, but not limited to: meeting with an advisor, visiting the writing center, acquiring all textbooks, and participating in student life activities. As they earn different levels of points, incentives can be earned. There will be one grand prize at the end of each academic year.

Students within their first 15 credit hours in select programs are eligible to retake a course for free in the next 8-week session if they embody the five Student Success Commitments, but receive a letter grade of a D or F. For students, the five commitments include: attend class, get to know your instructors and develop a relationship of trust with them; complete what you start; attempt each assignment; develop well-organized and disciplined study habits; and ask questions and use campus support resources, such as tutoring or Disability Support Services, when needed.

“Ivy Tech has developed wonderful resources for our students to be successful, but at times they are underutilized or unknown to them,” Ellspermann said. “With Ivy Achieves, we can ensure our students can fully take advantage of our student support services, embody our Student Success Commitments, and succeed in their courses. Our faculty and staff are also expected to uphold our Commitments which include: getting to know students by name and get to know them, giving immediate feedback when a student is failing, and offering flexibility where possible.”

Ivy Tech received this implementation grant under the second phase of Lilly Endowment’s three-phase Charting the Future initiative. In this phase, the Endowment invited proposals that present promising strategies that will result in economies of scale and other cost efficiencies to enhance the viability and financial condition of the institutions and prepare graduates for rewarding employment and to live engaged and meaningful lives, especially in Indiana. Grants under a third phase, which is competitive, will be awarded in 2021. Those grants will support collaborative efforts that seek to have large-scale impact on the ability of higher education institutions in Indiana to fulfill their educational missions.

“We are so grateful for Lilly Endowment’s support of our Ivy Achieves program,” Ellspermann continued. “Without partners and education supporters like Lilly Endowment, programs and initiatives at all of the 38 awarded institutions may not have come to fruition for our students. We look forward to seeing all of these efforts come to light in the next few years to benefit Hoosiers across the state.”

About Ivy Tech Community College
Ivy Tech Community College serves communities across Indiana, providing world-class education and driving economic transformation. It is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering high-value degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its communities, along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana.