Partnership Helps Low-income Marion County Students Prepare and Pay for College

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Leaders from Indiana Black Expo, Indiana University and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education gathered today at the State Capitol to announce a new partnership to help hundreds of Marion County’s low-income and underrepresented students. The program, called the Drive for Affordable College, identifies and helps low-income students enroll in Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program and visit a college campus—a step Scholars must complete in high school to prepare for college and earn their full-tuition scholarship.

“Indiana’s 21st Century Scholarship program has helped more than 30,000 low-income and first-generation Hoosier students gain the life-changing benefits of a college degree,” Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said. “Communities with active partnerships, like this one led by the Indiana Black Expo and Indiana University, are the most successful in getting these students to and through college successfully. Indiana needs more partnerships like this one in every corner of the state.”

Created in 1990, the 21st Century Scholars program provides up to four years of full tuition scholarships for low-income students who meet academic and behavioral requirements. During high school, Scholars must also complete a series of activities designed to prepare them for college success—such as completing a high school graduation plan, filing for financial aid, and visiting a college campus.

During the 2016-2017 school year, the Marion County Drive for Affordable College partnership will work to enroll 500 new students in the 21st Century Scholarship program and expose 200 current 21st Century Scholars to the Indiana University Bloomington campus.
“With the growing demand for college-educated professionals, a higher education is one of the surest pathways out of poverty and into economic success,” said Martin McCrory, associate vice president for academic support and diversity and vice provost for educational inclusion and diversity at Indiana University. “By exposing middle and high school students to our campus, we hope that they will be encouraged to pursue a college degree.”

As part of the partnership, Indiana Black Expo will select students who qualify for the 21st Century Scholars program from Indianapolis Public Schools, Warren Township, Wayne Township and Archdiocese of Indianapolis Catholic schools.
“Indiana Black Expo is pleased to lead this effort in partnership with IU and the Commission for Higher Education to make college a reality for more historically underrepresented students in Indianapolis,” Emil Ekiyor, Vice President of the Indianapolis Chapter of Indiana Black Expo, said. “This partnership has the power to transform the lives of hundreds of students who may not have pursued higher education on their own or even considered it an option for their future.”

Two units in IU’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs will be actively engaged with this partnership—IU Bloomington’s 21st Century Scholars Program and IU’s Community & School Partnerships unit. These teams will work closely with the Indianapolis Chapter of Indiana Black Expo and participating school districts.

The partnership will provide food and transportation for Scholars to the IU Bloomington campus, where students will be introduced to academic life, participate in a college fair and tour the campus.

“There’s a misconception that college is only accessible to certain people, but that isn’t true,” said Yolanda Treviño, assistant vice president of strategy, planning and assessment at IU. “This partnership allows us to connect students with IU and make them aware of programs like 21st Century Scholars that provide financial support to program participants.”

Learn more about Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars program at Scholars.IN.Gov. The high school graduating Class of 2017 will be the first group of Scholars required to complete the activities outlined in the Scholar Success Program. Through community partnerships like Marion County’s Drive for Affordable College program, Indiana is working to ensure all Scholars complete these activities that prepare them for college success. Since May 2016, the number of Class of 2017 Scholars on track to earn their 21st Century Scholarship has increased by 30 percent.