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Last modified: Tuesday, October 1, 2002

IU receives Lumina grants for innovative service-learning project

Indiana University's Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses each will receive $100,000 from Lumina Foundation for Education to create service-learning opportunities for first-generation students and students of color.

The grants are part of Lumina Foundation's President's Fund for Student Success. The grant proposals responded to requests for innovations in undergraduate education that would enhance success for students from under-represented groups.

"The programs we have created will achieve multiple objectives," said IU Vice President for Student Development and Diversity Charlie Nelms, whose office chaired the planning process that led to the grant at IU Bloomington. "We think they are initiatives that help everyone."

Nelms described the grant for the Bloomington campus: "First, it will build more bridges between campus and community; second, it will give students an opportunity for real-world testing of the theories that they learn in the classroom; third, it will provide an opportunity for the students to give back to the community; and fourth, it will enable those students selected as academic mentors and community liaisons to gain important leadership experience," he said.

"The IUPUI project will continue the tradition of innovation in the urban undergraduate experience that has been a hallmark of the campus for many years. The idea of faculty learning communities, as presented in the proposal, is unique in the nation and, if successful, can serve as a model for institutions of all types," Nelms added.

Administered by the Community Outreach and Partnerships in Service-Learning office, the IU Bloomington project will, over a three-year period, involve more than 30 sections of courses, focusing on several courses commonly taken by first-generation students and students of color. Service opportunities and relationships with community non-profit agencies will be curated by upper-level undergraduate Advocates for Community Engagement (ACEs), who will work under the direction of service-learning staff.

Upper-level undergraduates with experience in the disciplines being studied will serve as academic mentors for the students who will participate in the program, and faculty who wish to design courses for use in the program will receive course development stipends. Many of the student ACEs and academic mentors are expected to be students with experience in Groups and the Minority Achievers Program, among other first-generation and minority initiatives currently on the Bloomington campus.

"With this project, we have put together several components that have never been specifically packaged as one project before, and our assessment of this project will, at the end of three years, provide both our campus and the national learning community with valuable new information about a potential new best practice in teaching and learning," said JoAnn Campbell, director of Community Outreach and Partnerships in Service Learning.

At Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis, the grant will be used to develop a program to increase the success of entering first-generation students, particularly African Americans and Latinos. The program has two main goals: to increase social and academic support through a mentoring program and to improve student performance by making the learning environment more inclusive and collaborative. IUPUI will convene faculty from key freshman courses. The faculty will work to build learning communities by integrating their efforts on these key courses.

Course development will begin during the current academic year, with the new service-learning sections being launched in the fall of 2003.

Lumina Foundation for Education, a private, independent foundation, strives to help people achieve their potential for expanding access and success in education beyond high school. Through research, grants for innovative programs and communication initiatives, Lumina Foundation addresses issues surrounding financial access and educational retention and degree or certificate attainment -- particularly among 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 details on the foundation, visit its Web site at http://www.luminafoundation.org.