Jay Roberts (pictured right of center), director of the Center for Integrated Learning, meets with students in the Center's commons area on campus earlier this year. The Center will manage the four-year, $1 million grant awarded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant will provide Earlham's students with new opportunities for high-impact learning in partnership with 30 organizations in Indiana.

Lilly Endowment awards $1M to Earlham to enhance career preparation for students

December 05, 2013

Earlham College has been awarded a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to create new opportunities for high-impact student learning in partnership with 30 organizations across Indiana.

Designed specifically to keep graduates in Indiana, the College’s "Indiana Pathways" grant program will bring together experiential learning and the liberal arts to build bridges from college to career.

“Earlham is committed to strengthening relationships with organizations across Indiana to create new post-graduation career trajectories for our students,” President David Dawson says. "The Endowment's support will reinforce Earlham's new paradigm for a liberal arts education that integrates classical liberal arts education with vocational discernment and imaginative career planning.

“We are excited that internships and other programs funded by the Endowment grant will increase the likelihood that more Earlham graduates will stay in Indiana and thrive in their personal and civic lives,” he says.

Statewide, the Endowment is providing $62.7 million to Indiana’s 39 accredited colleges and universities through its Initiative to Promote Opportunities Through Educational Collaborations.

“The Endowment has seen firsthand that colleges and universities have the ability and desire to help improve the job prospects of college graduates in Indiana, and we wanted to give them the resources to be even more strategic and ambitious,” says Sara B. Cobb, vice president for education at the Endowment.

For more than a decade, the Endowment has awarded grants to Indiana colleges and universities to pursue activities that improve the job prospects of college graduates in the state. While progress has been made, particularly through expanded internship opportunities and more robust career placement offices, Indiana college graduates continue to have difficulty finding jobs within the state that are suitable to individuals holding a bachelor’s degree.

“Despite a steady supply of four-year college graduates, Indiana ranks very low among the states in the percentage of its adult working-age population that has a bachelor’s degree, and the state’s average per capita income ranking also is unacceptable,” Cobb says. “The Endowment has become increasingly concerned about the implications of these statistics and their potential impact on the state’s future prosperity.

The grant comes at a fitting time as the College continues to implement a new strategic plan that connects the College’s strengths as a leading national liberal arts college with a more deliberate focus on career development.

With the grant, Earlham is positioned to provide students with opportunities to engage with professionals from across Indiana that will allow for real-world discovery of wide-ranging career paths.

Locally, Earlham will partner with Reid Hospital, Cope Environmental Center, the Wayne County Foundation and other organizations. Outside of Richmond, the College will partner with Riley Hospital for Children, Conner Prairie Interactive History Park, The Nature Conservancy, Patriot Engineering and Environmental, Inc., Hoosier Environmental Council, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and other businesses, government and non-profit agencies.

“We have really benefited from our long-standing partnership with Earlham College,” Cope Environmental Center Executive Director Alison Zajdel says. “We have hired Earlham graduates in recent years and they have provided the necessary expertise to advance our mission of promoting environmental sustainability.

“We know what we’re getting when we hire an Earlham graduate or invite one of the College’s students to conduct an internship or volunteer on one of our projects,” she says. “We’re getting someone with strong communication skills and someone who is very well-versed in environmental topics.”

Zajdel expects Earlham students who are accepted into internships will play an active role in the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust project, which was created in 2012 to protect important conservation and recreation areas across the state. The Cope Center is an active player in efforts to protect land that borders U.S. 40 to the north and Brookville to the south.

At Conner Prairie, Earlham interns will serve a variety of roles tailored to their interests, including development, marketing and programming.

“We’ve had good experiences with Earlham students,” Conner Prairie President and CEO Ellen M. Rosenthal says. “We find that they come to us with intellectual curiosity, self-motivation and openness to new experiences and ideas.

“That’s ideal for us because our mission is to create curiosity in history, science, nature and the arts,” she says. “We’re excited to put their creative, excited minds to work.”

As part of the College’s grant program, interns will receive pre- and post-internship training. Faculty grants will also supply short-term experiences with our Indiana partners that will help them promote career opportunities for students.

Students will also be given opportunities to pursue projects at the new Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis and engage with Earlham’s local technology entrepreneurs and others in the state interested in social entrepreneurship.

“Internships are a critical component of our program,” says Director of the Center for Integrated Learning Jay Roberts, the organization that will manage the grant. “By creating opportunities for students to immerse themselves in premier organizations in Indiana, and for these organizations to experience the high quality of our students, we anticipate a much higher likelihood for post-graduation employment success.”

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About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly and his two sons, Eli and J.K. Jr., with gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical company. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana. More information can be found at www.lillyendowment.org.

About Earlham College

Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."

Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at (765) 983-1256 and zimmebr@earlham.edu.

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