Marion County, IN – A new community-wide initiative to increase the number of seventh and eighth-grade students enrolled in the Twenty-first Century Scholarship Program is being launched today (April 28, 2011) by a partnership that includes: Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program (TFCSP), The Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation (OEI), and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee (GIPC).
Entitled “The Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge,” it is the partnership’s second initiative of its kind in two years, and has a goal of enrolling 90 percent of all eligible eighth-grade students and 75 percent of eligible seventh-grade students in Marion County in the program. In 2010, the inaugural Enrollment Challenge increased enrollment from 39 percent to 58 percent by rewarding school counselors and representatives with Simon Gift cards valued between $50 to $400. In total, over 1,900 additional seventh- and eighth-grade students were enrolled into the Twenty-first Century Scholars program as a result of the Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge partnership and incentive program. CICF anticipates providing more than $10,000 in incentives to reward school counselors for achieving the enrollment challenge goals.
Currently, sixth- through eighth-grade students that qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches are eligible to enroll in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program. The Scholars Program promises to provide full tuition at any public institution of higher education if students: (1) Graduate from an Indiana-recognized high school with a diploma and at least a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale; (2) Refrain from using illegal drugs or alcohol and do not commit any crimes, (3) Apply and be accepted to a college or university within the state of Indiana, and; (4) Apply on time for state and federal student financial assistance.
In recent years, between 50 and 60 percent of all Marion County eighth-graders have qualified to enroll in the program. According to the Indiana Department of Education, out of the state’s approximately 10,000 eighth-grade students, more than 6,000 were eligible for the Twenty-first Century Scholars program in 2010 (or six out of every ten eighth-grade students).
Indiana’s state legislature is currently considering proposals to limit the reach of the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program by: (1) Proposing annual minimal grade point average requirements while in high school and in college; (2) Restricting eligibility to students that receive only free lunch, not reduced priced lunch; (3) Means testing seniors and awarding a one-time gift of $1,000 for students no longer deemed eligible by program standards; and (4) Repealing sixth-grade enrollment. These changes to the Scholars program would restrict access to post-secondary opportunities for the majority of Marion County families and discourage students from seeking a college degree.
Studies show only 10 percent of students from Indiana’s lowest income-quartile families will earn a bachelors degree within six years after graduating from high school, yet experts project that by 2018, 60 percent of all jobs will require post-secondary credentials. The TFCSP has been successful in encouraging more students to seek post-secondary opportunities: of the students that enrolled in the Twenty-first Century Scholars program and graduated in 2009, 92 percent graduated from high school and 68 percent enrolled in some form of post-secondary opportunity.
“The Twenty-first Century Scholars Program has been very successful at creating college access for more of Indiana’s students, and the Enrollment Challenge further builds on that success,” said Brian Payne, president and CEO of Central Indiana Community Foundation. “We believe expanding access to post-secondary educational opportunities is an important way of addressing changing educational demands in our economy, and is vital to our young people and our state.”
The Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge is a part of CICF’s College Readiness Initiative, funded by The Indianapolis Foundation (a CICF affiliate) and Lumina Foundation. Every school in Marion County serving students in grades seven and eight is invited to participate in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge.
For more information about the Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge, please contact Jonika Hudson, 317.274.1592, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation, please contact 317.327.3601.