Meet Clayton De Fur, CICF community investment officer

What do you do at Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF)?

I am a community investment officer, which means I maintain strong relationships with not-for-profit organizations and offer technical assistance and advice for not-for-profit organizations seeking grants from CICF and elsewhere. I focus on arts and culture, environment, food access and nutrition, animal welfare and health and disability.

Lately the bulk of my time has been (well) spent on scholarships. I oversee the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship program for Hamilton and Marion counties (We just announced the recipients!) and CICF’s scholarship program, which is now accepting applications for over 50 other scholarships held at CICF.

What is your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part of my job is the fact that I’m able to engage with so many different people, issues and organizations on a daily basis.

On a given day, I could be in a high school meeting with students and school counselors, then head to one of our innovative, growing arts organizations or large cultural institutions, and end my day at an urban farm that is helping to address a food desert within the city. My days are full of exciting work happening throughout our community.

What is the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program?

The Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship program is an incredible program and asset for our state. Each year, Independent Colleges of Indiana awards full-tuition Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships to students in all 92 counties of Indiana, working in conjunction with each community foundation. The number of scholarships awarded in each county is based off of population data of the county. The Indianapolis Foundation, the CICF affiliate serving Marion County, receives nine Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships as the most populous county in the state. Legacy Fund, the CICF affiliate in Hamilton County, receives four scholarships.

To apply, a student must first apply for a nomination from their school. Each school selects two students who are invited to apply at CICF. All applicants are interviewed by selection committees for The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund, and award decisions are made based off of a weighted scoring matrix of their interview, essays, financial need, overall academic performance and their student resume. This year, 79 students were interviewed in Marion County and 33 in Hamilton County.

What’s your favorite part of working on the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship program?

The best part is without a doubt the opportunity to notify the students. Each year, our committee members go to the schools to surprise the students in person with the news of their award, and the reactions are always priceless.

Any recommendations for students applying to CICF’s other scholarships?

I would always recommend giving yourself more than enough time to complete the application, always ask any questions you may have, and sharpen your essays so that they share the true essence of who you are and separate you from a pack of other applicants. There are so many qualified students in our community, so students need to highlight what makes them stand out in unique ways.

Why does CICF believe post-secondary education is so important?

CICF believes that postsecondary education is critical for students because we operate in an economy that is getting considerably more technical and the demands of newly created jobs are not being met by the supply of Hoosiers. It’s estimated that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require a post-secondary degree or credential, yet in 2014, only 40.9 percent of Hoosiers had a post-secondary degree or credential. Simply put, to keep up with the modern American economy, students need to pursue some type of extended education that places them on a career pathway for success.

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