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Lumina Foundation for Education

Last modified: Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Lumina Foundation awards more than $1 million to IU

Grants will foster academic success for African American men, 21st Century Scholars

Jan. 11, 2007

Charlie Nelms

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- New grants to Indiana University totaling more than $1 million will help to reduce the enrollment gap between African American men and women in the state and to increase graduation rates for low-income students at IU.

The four grants, awarded by Lumina Foundation for Education, are for programs at IU's campuses in Indianapolis, New Albany, South Bend and Bloomington. Lumina Foundation is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation dedicated to expanding access and success in education beyond high school.

IU received a $748,500 three-year grant to improve academic persistence for African American men and will share a portion of it with Indiana State University. The grant will target those living in Indiana counties in and around where Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, IU Northwest and Indiana State University are located. Together, the three institutions will provide $413,074 to partially match the grant. About $250,000 will be re-directed to Indiana State University.

In other grants, IU South Bend and IU Southeast each have been awarded $100,000 and IU Bloomington, $79,000, to increase retention of students in the state-funded 21st Century Scholars program, which provides qualifying low-income students with pre-college support services and the promise of full in-state tuition. The university will match these two-year grants.

Statistics bear that more African American women enroll and succeed at colleges and universities across the state, including at the two IU campuses where the $748,500 grant will be used. Women outnumber men at IUPUI (1,387 women to 613 men) and at IU Northwest (668 to 168). Twice as many African American women are enrolled at IU overall than men.

"African American males enroll and graduate at much lower rates than all groups in higher education," said Philip A. Seabrook, executive director and administrator of IU's College Readiness Initiative. "The Lumina grant will allow the three campuses supported to direct services toward African American males to address the issues that impact their success."

Charlie Nelms, IU vice president for institutional development and student affairs, said disproportionately fewer African American men graduate from high schools and are less prepared for collegiate success than their female peers. Those attending urban or commuter colleges frequently pursue a full-time workload in addition to college in order to maintain other lifestyle choices.

"We want to build a greater sense of community within the African American cohorts that we are serving. We want to empower our students to better assist each other," Nelms said.

Seabrook added, "We will be able to find successful role models in the university and community to instill a value for higher education that will override competing priorities. Through mentoring and this grant, we will address college retention and pre-college pipeline issues."

In addition to creating a peer-mentoring program, the grant also will fund the creation of more tutoring and pre-college programs that create bridges between high school and higher education and take advantage of IU's computing power to "e-mentor" students.

The other Lumina grants, which were announced by the foundation in late December, are part of a larger effort to boost the success rate of students in the 21st Century Scholars program. Scholars must fulfill a pledge to be good citizens and qualify for admission at an Indiana college or university.

  • At IUB, the grant will be used to create a tool kit for success that will offer interventions that help students stay in school and graduate. Jeanetta Nelms, the campus' 21st Century Scholars coordinator, said goals will include helping scholars with math and science skills needed for success in the emerging life sciences economy. Many scholars also have expressed an interest in becoming teachers, so funds will be used to pay the costs of taking the Praxis I exam required of all education majors at IU. While all 1,086 current scholars will benefit, the primary focus will be on those who most need academic support, helping them to become more engaged in the campus community, she said.
  • At IU South Bend, where there are more than 300 scholars, the grant will be used to support the campus' Making the Academic Connections program, which includes a leadership academy, academic skills workshops, tutoring, career development and community engagement.
  • At IU Southeast, the staff will use the grant to implement "wraparound services" that include a focus on academic preparation, campus engagement, leadership development and family support. Staff will engage students in a variety of activities designed to boost grade point averages and persistence, and graduation and transfer rates for approximately 270 scholars.

Each grant will include initiatives to ensure that at-risk students utilize all of the support services available to IU students, including tutoring and financial aid assistance.

"What we're trying to do is closely monitor these populations of students and tailor our responses to their needs and to their interests," said Charlie Nelms.

IU is in the process of completing a $1.2 million study also funded by the Indiana Project on Academic Success, funded by Lumina Foundation for Education, which is assessing the effectiveness of various retention intervention efforts at higher education institutions across the state. Nelms said the results of that study will help state colleges and universities to pinpoint what works.

Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based, private, independent foundation, strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access and success in education beyond high school. Through grants for research, innovation, communication and evaluation, as well as policy education and leadership development, Lumina Foundation addresses issues that affect access and educational attainment among all students, particularly underserved student groups, including adult learners. The foundation bases its mission on the belief that postsecondary education remains one of the most beneficial investments that individuals can make in themselves and that society can make in its people. For more details on the foundation, visit