Education and scholarships vitally important

photo of Clayton De Fur-by Clayton De Fur
community investment officer

It is estimated that by 2025, at least 60 percent of Americans will need some type of high-quality credential beyond high school. This includes anything from associate degrees, certification programs, bachelor’s degrees and graduate degrees. However, according to A Stronger Nation, a study by Lumina Foundation, the national average attainment of certificates and degrees is only 46.9 percent, and Indiana lags behind the rest of the country at only 41.9 percent. Attainment levels for Hispanic and African American residents in Indiana are even lower than the national average at only 18.6 percent and 26.9 percent respectively.

As our American economy continues to evolve and automation erodes the labor force in many industries, having some form of post-secondary education is integral to giving individuals an opportunity to reach their full potential and increase their personal and family’s long-term economic security. This landscape creates a challenging environment where more people need to enroll in post-secondary programs each and every year, yet these programs are continually becoming more expensive to complete.

Forbes notes wages are increasing at a dramatically slower rate than the cost of education making it more difficult to pay off student debt. Additionally, student loans account for the most non-housing debt in America. As Laurie Burns wrote in September, student loan debt can cause detrimental and long-term repercussions after graduation for individuals and the community. Yet still, a degree or certificate is imperative to earn a higher wage. How can we help?

Central Indiana Community Foundation, and its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Legacy Fund, serving Hamilton County, work to fill the financial gap through scholarships for students in high school, college and those returning to earn a degree or certificate after some time away from school. The application period for more than 50 scholarships is open Nov. 12, 2018 through Feb. 5, 2019. Scholarships are established either actively from community donors or as legacy gifts, and all are awarded to high-achieving students with financial need across Central Indiana. Last year, these funds awarded nearly $1.27 million to 170 students and we anticipate awarding more than $1.4 million in 2019.

Below are a few scholarships available through CICF for students with specific interests and/or for students pursuing a certificate other than a four-year degree:

  • Steve Sallee Scholarship – for individuals pursuing a training in automotive engineering and technology
  • Reach Your Potential Scholarship for vocational, technical and trade school
  • Samantha B. Skjodt Scholarship – for female students majoring in computer science or informatics at an Indiana University campus
  • Indiana Latino Scholarship Funds, including: Mexican Scholarship Fund, La Plaza Scholarship and Sociedad Amigos de Colombia de Indiana Scholarship
  • Catherine of Alexandria Scholarship – for individuals who have experienced significant life hardship

Last year, these funds awarded nearly $1.2 million to 156 students and we anticipate awarding more than $1.4M in 2019.

Scholarships are vitally important for empowering students to reach their full potential. If you know a deserving individual in Central Indiana who is or will be pursuing post-secondary education in the fall of 2019, direct them to the CICF Scholarship Guidebook to learn more about our scholarship funds and process. The guidebook provides information and application criteria for each of our scholarships.

Likewise, if you are interested in establishing a scholarship fund to help empower the next generation of students, let us know. A scholarship fund is a great way to create a lasting legacy now, or in the future. Contact Mary Stanley, director and legal counsel for charitable gift planning at CICF, at for more information.

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