Recent News & Blog

Staff invests time and in partnerships to enroll over 9 percent of cohort 2023 Marion County scholars

October 16, 2019 – INDIANAPOLIS – In its first year as a program, Indy Achieves enrolled over 9 percent of the total Marion County students enrolled in 21st Century Scholars. With a total enrollment of over 4100 Marion County 8th grade students following the 2018-2019 school year, this resulted in a five percentage point county-wide increase in the rate of eligible students enrolling in the program from the previous 8th grade cohort.It would not have been possible to reach this number without the assistance and support of partners and local educators, parents, and counselors.

“Our workforce needs an additional 215,000 individuals with a postsecondary degree or credential in order to meet employer demand,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Initiatives like Indy Achieves and programs like 21st Century Scholars break down financial barriers for students who may not have had the opportunity to go to college – providing them the skills they need to secure good paying jobs that are currently going unfilled in Marion County.”

21st Century Scholars is the state’s early college promise program and is administered by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Students must register in 7th or 8th grade to be eligible to receive up to four years of paid tuition to a participating Indiana college or university as they pursue their postsecondary career. To remain eligible for 21st Century Scholars, students must complete a variety of Scholar Success Program requirements and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the April 15 deadline.

The Indy Achieves staff has impacted the enrollment in Marion County 21st Century Scholars by spending countless hours assisting families in finalizing their applications, attending school events, strategizing new marketing techniques, meeting with schools and counselors, and streamlining application processes, among other activities to encourage and connect with the local community. Indy Achieves will again this school year be working with partners like the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to enroll Marion County Students. 

“For the 2019-2020 school year, we are on pace to more than double the number from last year that Indy Achieves enrolls in 21st Century Scholars,” said Esther Gamble, EmployIndy’s Manager of Student Progress for Indy Achieves. “This is a testament to our involvement with the schools and communities and we are excited to grow these partnerships as we work together to open doors for young people to persist in postsecondary education.”

It’s not too early in 7th and 8th grade to be planning for life after high school. The 21st Century Scholars program is designed for students to aspire to higher learning and have the understanding that no matter their socioeconomic status, they have the opportunity to pursue education and training beyond high school. The 21st Century Scholars application is free and takes less than five minutes to complete.

“Indy Achieves has been an integral partner in the enrollment of 21st Century Scholars in Marion County. As we embark on the 30th anniversary of the 21st Century Scholars program next year, this and other community partnerships will continue to make a vital impact on the work being done at the local level to ensure Scholars are ready for college and successful in their pursuit of education beyond high school,” says Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers.

Throughout the county there are educators and counselors working to register their eligible 7th and 8th grade students in 21st Century Scholars. One of the larger schools in the district, Northview Middle School, is setting the bar high for other locations as they utilize an internal process to enroll students.

“Enrolling students in 21st Century Scholars is something that is a part of the community and culture of our school. It involves a comprehensive plan that starts in September each year and doesn’t wrap up until the last day of school,” said Jen Dodson, Professional School Counselor at Northview Middle School. “It is a big job but one that is incredibly important as it helps us break down barriers that exist between some of our students and their goal of attaining a college degree.”

Marion County educators and families can receive assistance, register and find out more at IndyAchieves.org/21cs. Statewide applications are available at all middle schools and accepted through the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s ScholarTrack. The application program is for current Indiana 7th and 8th grade students through June 30, 2020.


Data warehouse to be built to monitor student success and expand general knowledge of population being served

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – 6 August 2019 – The Indianapolis Foundation, a Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) affiliate, has awarded Indy Achieves $40,000 to invest towards building a data warehouse. With these resources, Indy Achieves, an initiative launched by Mayor Joe Hogsett and administered by EmployIndy, will build a data tracking tool to identify Marion County residents who are at risk of educational remediation and/or uninformed about available financial postsecondary opportunities.

“We support this project’s initiative to get students in the pipeline early, and keep them in the pipeline,” said Andrew Black, director of community leadership for CICF. “Because of this data, we can help more students graduate on time and access programs, like 21st Century Scholars, that make obtaining postsecondary credentials possible.” 

Set to be launched this fall, this secure data-tracking warehouse will be utilized exclusively by EmployIndy, the organization that houses the Indy Achieves initiative, and can break down pre-existing barriers by receiving, combining and exporting specific data, such as identifying individuals who qualify for 21st Century Scholars. With this information, Indy Achieves is able to connect with qualifying families, provide programmatic clarity, and sign them up for applicable opportunities.

“We understand that outreach must begin early, with students and families in K-12, to ensure critical growth of Marion County’s workforce and the future success of our young people,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “This data will make it possible to focus on youth who can benefit from Indy Achieves in order to pave the way to the postsecondary credentials needed in the 21st century economy.”

EmployIndy will also be able to utilize the data to inform when and how to intervene with students. By establishing the necessary infrastructure to safely secure and maintain the data gathered in the local, state and national level, Indy Achieves can act quickly before students fall through the cracks and are at risk of completion. This system makes it possible to proactively identify issues with students so that schools and community partners can intervene in real time. Indy Achieves will seek out schools to pilot early warning intervention systems to address common attributes of students who get off track at both the K-12 and postsecondary levels. Triggering early intervention will plug the leaky pipeline into postsecondary education and the workforce.

“The data warehouse enhances our ability to serve Marion County residents by not only identifying at-risk individuals, but providing a method for us to reach them before they fall too far,” said Angela Carr Klitzsch, president and CEO of EmployIndy. “This early warning will allow for individualized intervention and will undoubtedly improve retention rates in the K-12 space as well as at the postsecondary level.”

Utilizing this intervention strategy aligns with other EmployIndy initiatives to improve skills attainment and create positive outcomes for young people. By quickly investing in a population that trickles out of the education system, it is possible to increase on-time postsecondary completion rates, first semester retention, and track those who have been involved in work experiences, such as internships. This will shrink the skills gap and ultimately build up the workforce in Indianapolis.

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About Indy Achieves
Indy Achieves is a program created by Mayor Joe Hogsett that aims to ensure that every Indianapolis resident has the ability to pursue and complete a postsecondary credential or degree program. To accomplish this, Indy Achieves seeks to increase the number of individuals who apply for existing financial aid programs such as 21st Century Scholars and FAFSA as well as provide Indy Achieves Promise Scholarships and wraparound support services for Marion County students who attend Ivy Tech Indianapolis and IUPUI. Learn more about the Indy Achieves initiative at indyachieves.org.

About EmployIndy
EmployIndy guides the local workforce ecosystem and makes strategic investments to remove barriers to quality employment for underserved and underrepresented residents. As the workforce development board for Marion County, guided by 21 business, civic, education and nonprofit community leaders, EmployIndy invests $20 million in public, private and philanthropic funds for both youth and adults annually. Learn more about EmployIndy at employindy.org.

About Indiana 21st Century Scholars
The 21st Century Scholars program was established in 1990 to increase students’ aspirations for and access to higher education. The program provides income-eligible students the opportunity to earn a scholarship that covers up to four years of tuition and regularly assessed fees. 21st Century Scholars supports eligible students and parents with the tools they need to prepare for college, graduate on time and begin a successful career. The scholarship is awarded on an annual basis. Learn more at www.scholars.in.gov.

About Indianapolis Foundation
The Indianapolis Foundation was founded in 1916 and is an affiliate of Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF). As Indiana’s oldest and largest community foundation, The Indianapolis Foundation is governed by a board of six publicly-appointed directors and awards approximately $7 million annually focused on creating neighborhoods and environments that empower people, changing systems that unfairly hold people back, and dismantling systemic racism. The mobilizes people, ideas and investments to ensure that the quality of life in Marion County continuously improves; to help where the needs are greatest and the benefits to the community are most extensive; and to provide donors a vehicle for using their gifts in the best possible way now, and in the future.


Mayor Joe Hogsett, EmployIndy encourage parents of 7th and 8th grade students to file before June 30 deadline

June 24, 2019 – The deadline for 21st Century Scholars is only six days away and there are still many eligible 8th grade students that can sign up for a full tuition scholarship to Indiana colleges. One of the main reasons is that many are still unaware of the opportunity for their 7th or 8th grader to receive free college tuition.

“As a community, we leave a significant amount of money on the table every year – money that could provide an education and a path to a promising future,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “That is why it is so important for Marion County residents to apply for 21st Century Scholars before the June 30th deadline, to make sure all available resources make it into the hands of our students and families who need it most.”

Led by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the 21st Century Scholars program provides income-eligible Hoosier students up to four years of college tuition at any participating college or university in Indiana. A crucial part of the process is that the application must be completed by June 30th of a student’s 8th grade year, which can sneak up on families currently focused on the transition to high school. In recent years, only about half of eligible Marion County students have enrolled.

Indy Achieves, an initiative launched by Mayor Joe Hogsett and housed at EmployIndy, is pursuing many avenues to make it easy for individuals to apply and boost enrollment rates, such as:

  •      Implementing a mobile application process;
  •      Working with families one-on-one to file and submit their applications;
  •      Attending school functions to inform individuals about 21st Century Scholars; and
  •      Partnering with community organizations to spread the word

In about five minutes, parents are able to file an application for their student to go to an Indiana college tuition free, removing a financial burden that can takes years post-graduation to pay back.   

The application is a one-sheet, front and back document that makes a difference in a child’s life forever and time is running out for all Indiana 8th graders to submit their information. Once the deadline passes, rising high school freshman who have not applied will no longer have the opportunity to receive free college tuition through the 21st Century Scholars program.

Learn more and access the application at indyachieves.org/21cs