Maggie Thomas, (right) a professor of psychology and interim dean of Earlham College, leads an academic advising session with a student. Thomas is administering the College's Lilly Endowment-funded project, "Grow Where You're Planted: Deepening Our Roots."
Lilly Endowment awards EC $1M to support student success; increase dual enrollment and community college transfers
September 28, 2020
Lilly Endowment Inc. has made a $1 million grant to Earlham College to support “Grow Where You’re Planted: Deepening Our Roots,” a three-year project that will enhance Earlham’s student advising resources and expand learning opportunities for Indiana’s community college and high school students.
The grant was made through Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, a Lilly Endowment initiative designed to help all of Indiana’s 38 accredited public and private colleges and universities consider what it would take to improve their efforts to prepare students for successful futures while thoughtfully examining the long-term financial sustainability of their institutions. “Grow Where You’re Planted” is the second project at Earlham that Lilly Endowment has supported in six years.
“We are so grateful for this grant that will enable us to put new infrastructure in place to empower students to begin planning their future the moment they become Earlhamites,” Earlham President Anne Houtman said. “This effort will also allow us to expand our educational mission so that we can attract and support a wider array of learners who live in our backyard and can benefit from the very best of the liberal arts.”
There are five priorities for the project:
- Strengthening relationships with local high schools and community colleges in Indiana and Ohio through development of agreements suited to meet the educational needs of their student bodies;
- Development of new recruitment and advising strategies to attract community college and high school students seeking to transfer to Earlham or enroll in dual credit courses;
- Development of a new “Commuter Lounge,” a space in Lilly Library that will serve as an on-campus study space and home away from home for non-residential students;
- A redesign of the College’s academic advising to implement best practices for meeting the needs of today’s students and aligning with co-curricular advising, particularly career advising; and
- Expanded use of technology to improve the student advising experience, four-year planning and course registration.
“When students are better supported, everyone wins,” Houtman said. “Enhancing our advising infrastructure for all students gives them a leg up on their careers. Building new pathways for success for high school students and community college transfers puts an Earlham education within better reach for local and area students. It also will have a cumulative impact on the long-term health of Earlham College and increase the number of students graduating into the world with a college degree.”
Maggie Thomas, associate professor of psychology and interim dean of the College, will administer the grant project.
“Advising students is about meeting them where they are and helping them get to where they want to go after graduation, with high-quality advising associated with better retention and graduation rates,” Thomas said. “Earlham is the perfect size for strong advising, where advisers really get to know their advisees and tailor their interactions accordingly. With this grant, we will support the important work of advising, including addressing the specific needs of high school and transfer students. I am thrilled to engage in this work alongside our faculty and students."
Earlham received a $100,000 planning grant in 2019 through Charting the Future. This new, implementation grant was awarded under the second phase of the three-phase initiative. In this phase, Lilly Endowment invited proposals that present promising strategies that will result in economies of scale and other cost efficiencies to enhance the viability and financial condition of the institutions and prepare graduates for rewarding employment and to live engaged and meaningful lives, especially in Indiana. Grants under a third phase, which is competitive, will be awarded in 2021. Those grants will support collaborative efforts that seek to have large-scale impact on the ability of higher education institutions in Indiana to fulfill their educational missions.
Since 1937, Lilly Endowment Inc. has philanthropically supported causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state, Indiana. It was created by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location.
Brian Zimmerman, director of media relations