“The Groups Scholars Program is the best thing to happen to me in my young adult life,” says Calvin Woods, a first year IU Bloomington Groups student from Indianapolis, Indiana, studying public financial management in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Created in 1968 at Indiana University Bloomington, the Groups Scholars Program is a long-standing scholarship program that provides academic, financial and social support to help first-generation and financially disadvantaged students attain a bachelor’s degree at Indiana University. The effort is now available on six campuses: IU Bloomington, IU East, IU Kokomo, IU Northwest, IU South Bend and IU Southeast.
More than a supportive network of resources and financial assistance, however, the Groups Scholars Program plays an essential role in a scholar’s college experience—one that helps to build lifelong learning skills.
The Groups Scholars Program helps selected scholars from the moment they enter the program until graduation. In addition, wrap-around support such as tutoring, academic advising, mentoring and a sense of community are available to help scholars throughout their college journey.
"As a new member of the IU South Bend community, I was so impressed with the dedication and commitment of the faculty and staff that coordinate the GROUPS program on the South Bend campus,” says Kory Vitangeli, vice chancellor for student engagement. “I was fortunate enough to have been invited to attend the Civil Rights Heritage Tour with the students (which was phenomenal) as well as meet and talk with students in a later session. The students were engaged, delightful and excited to be part of such an immersive experience! I have no doubt that this program will help retain students."
This year, participating campuses admitted the following number of students to their Groups Scholars Program—Bloomington, 389; East, 23; Kokomo, 31; Northwest, 43; South Bend, 14 and Southeast, 18.
“More than a suite of resources and financial support, the Groups Scholars Program represents a pivotal foundation in students’ college experiences,” explains James C. Wimbush, vice president for the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Johnson Chair for Diversity and Leadership. “The program provides students with opportunities and connections to enrich their lives long after college.”
The holistic support the Groups Scholars Program provides makes a difference in students’ success. Indiana University Northwest, which launched its inaugural Groups Scholars Program in June 2022, achieved a 100 percent persistence rate from fall 2022 to spring 2023.
“We are extremely excited for our students about the Groups Scholars Program,” says Ken Iwama, chancellor of IU Northwest. “Our campus is the most diverse campus within Indiana University. This program complements our work to increase the graduation rates of students of color and other underrepresented students in higher education.”
IU campuses with Groups Scholars Programs offer various support and resources. Students who become a Groups Scholar at IU East will participate in a six-week summer bridge program, a free summer course to kickstart their college career, a $250 fall book voucher and $3,000 in scholarships (including a laptop scholarship). The total value of the Groups Scholars Program at IU East is more than $5,000.
At IU Kokomo, students admitted to the program will take two courses during the summer to help them become familiar with the campus environment, with tuition and book fees for the courses covered as part of a student’s acceptance into the Groups Program. In addition, students also receive a new laptop, as well as $500 in scholarships toward their tuition.
At IU South Bend, students also will complete a five-week, three-credit course in the summer, accompanied by a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, students will complete a one-week bridge program in the fall.
“I would like to thank the Wells House Society for their support of the GROUPS Program on the regional campuses.”, says Susan Sciame-Giesecke, vice president for regional campuses and online education. “Their financial support has allowed us to provide this opportunity to students on all campuses. The regional campus faculty and staff are committed to providing access to college to students from all backgrounds. The GROUPS Program is an excellent vehicle to do just that.”