CICF News / 2011 / December / News Post
December 9, 2011
Marion County 21st Century Scholars High School Freshmen Enrollment Hits 75%

INDIANAPOLIS – Mayor Greg Ballard and Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) President and CEO Brian Payne today announced that nearly 4,800 – 75 percent of all eligible Marion County high school freshmen have committed to the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program as a result of CICF’s 2011 Enrollment Challenge. Designed to bolster enrollment efforts made by school representatives, the “challenge” was a $7,100 incentive program made possible by Cindy Simon Skjodt, a CICF and The Indianapolis Foundation Board Member, and CICF’s Employee Fund, which is funded by CICF staff contributions.

“The 21st Century Scholars Program aims to ensure that more students regardless of income and financial resources have a chance to succeed, earn a college degree and enjoy the benefits of their success,” said Mayor Ballard. “Increased enrollment in Marion County thanks to this community-wide challenge demonstrates our commitment to improve educational opportunities and provide college access for all.”

The Enrollment Challenge is part of a community-wide initiative to increase the number of 7th and 8th grade students enrolled in the Twenty-first Century Scholarship Program by a partnership that includes CICF, the City of Indianapolis Office of Education Innovation, and the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee. Now in its second year, the Enrollment Challenge’s goal is to enroll 90 percent of all eligible 8th grade students and 75 percent of eligible 7th grade students in Marion County in the program ahead of the annual deadline before the students enter high school. As of this year’s June 30 deadline, 4,797 eligible 8th-grade students were enrolled in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program out of a group of 6,357. An additional 2,843 7th-grade students were enrolled out of 6,628.

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 for Education. Every school in Marion County serving 7th or 8th grade students is invited to participate in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge. The College Readiness Initiative partnered with the Twenty-first Century Scholars Regional Support Site to provide performance-based incentives to all middle school counselors that achieved either 75 percent of 7th grade enrollment or 90 percent of 8th grade enrollment. A total of 35 counselors, representing 28 middle schools, received gift cards as part of the challenge.

“The remarkable jump in enrollment in the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program means more Marion County students are potentially on their way to post-secondary educational opportunities. We believe that with continued guidance and support, many of those students will earn degrees and make important contributions to our community, contributions that ultimately benefit us all,” said Payne.

Indiana Fever star Tamika Catchings participated in the announcement of the Enrollment Challenge results today at Center for Inquiry: IPS 302 at 725 N. New Jersey St., along with the school’s principal, Joseph Turner.

“The Twenty-first Century Scholars Program provides students who are willing to work hard, stay out of trouble and lead productive lives with a real opportunity to afford a college education, and a better future. The Enrollment Challenge has done a tremendous job of getting more students on that path,” said Catchings. “That’s incredibly exciting, and a win-win for everyone in central Indiana.”

IPS was selected as the host site for the press event in recognition of the district’s large enrollment numbers and one-year enrollment percentage improvement from approximately 57 percent in 2010 to 81 percent in 2011. The increase is significant: IPS enrolls more than 1,600 8th graders who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, almost double that of the next closest school district. IPS also accounts for more than 25 percent of all 2011 Marion County high school freshman admitted to the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program. These students statistically now are more likely to prepare and enroll in post-secondary opportunities.

All school districts increased enrollment performance, most notably (measurements are in percentages): Perry Township (56 to 88), Lawrence Township (58 to 85), Wayne Township (74 to 88), and Pike Township (50 to 70).

Currently, 7th through 8th grade students who qualify for free and reduced-price school lunches are eligible to enroll in the State of Indiana’s 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 2.5 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.


For more information about the Twenty-first Century Scholars Enrollment Challenge, please contact Jonika Hudson, 317.274.1592, or For additional information about the Twenty-first Century Scholars program, visit

For more information about CICF’s College Readiness Initiative, please contact Roderick Wheeler at 317.631.6542, ext 138, or, or visit

For more information about the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation, please contact 317.327.3601.


About Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF)
Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) is a $608 million public foundation transforming the lives of central Indiana residents in three ways: consulting donors, family foundations and their professional advisors on charitable giving; awarding grants to effective not-for-profit organizations; and providing leadership to address community needs and seize opportunities. CICF was established in 1997 as a partnership between The Indianapolis Foundation, serving Marion County since 1916, and Legacy Fund, serving Hamilton County since 1991.

For more information about CICF, call 317.634.2423 or visit

About the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program
The Twenty-first Century Scholars program, established in 1990 by the State of Indiana, encourages low-income middle school students to prepare for post-secondary opportunities. In exchange for academic and civic accomplishments during high school, enrolled students receive post-secondary tuition assistance to attend any public college or university in the State of Indiana. Visit

Parents or guardians must enroll their children) in the 7th or 8th grades to qualify to receive the Twenty-first Century Scholarship. Students are also required to sign a pledge that promises they will: (1) graduate from an accredited Indiana high school with a diploma and at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average, (2) abstain from the use of alcohol, drugs or committing a crime, (3) apply for college admissions, and (4) complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form on-time, prior to March 1st to qualify for all federal, state and intuitional-based aid.