Lilly Endowment awards $1.27 million grant to ECS

Elkhart Community Schools has received a grant of $1,277,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. as part of the Endowment’s Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students.

Elkhart Community Schools is one of 52 public school corporations and five charter schools in Indiana selected to implement plans to help them meet the complex academic, college, career, and social and emotional counseling needs of their students. The amount of the grant to Elkhart Community Schools was based on total enrollment.

In Elkhart County, this grant was submitted and awarded as a collaborative grant between all seven Elkhart County public school corporations, which collectively totaled more than $3.6 million. Schools within the county will work together to leverage resources and community partnerships to support the academic, college and career readiness, and social/emotional needs of Elkhart County students. At Elkhart Community Schools, this grant will be used to transform the ways in which counselors provide services to students, primarily focusing on college and career readiness. Specifically, this grant will provide funding for online career exploration resources, after-school support, college visits, internships, job shadowing, job site visits, and professional development for staff.

“Too often counselors find themselves in the role of helping students schedule classes,” said William Kovach, director of secondary instruction. “We want to empower and provide the opportunity for our counselors to serve more appropriate counseling roles, such as advising, supporting, career planning and exploration. Through our curriculum development, we’re helping our students explore their interests starting in middle school, helping them understand their strengths and weaknesses, and identifying career paths that are of interest to them. Working with counselors, students will be empowered to take charge of their future and articulate their goals, and have an understanding of the education required for career fields. Knowing that they are in a safe place to explore a variety of careers, students will also find the support of counselors when they change their minds and want to explore a different pathway.”

“This career exploration will also benefit the greater community by helping students understand the wide range of opportunities in Elkhart, careers that may require certification, as well as post-secondary degrees,” said Kovach. “People traditionally think of Elkhart as a manufacturing community, but many positions within the manufacturing industry require advanced certifications and degrees, as do careers in medical fields and education fields – both among the top ten employers in Elkhart County. Through our curriculum and counseling, we’re trying to change the mentality and culture for our students and the community.”

Through the Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students, the Endowment has made a total of $26.4 million in implementation grants and $9.1 million in planning grants to help public school corporations and charter schools across Indiana improve strategies for school counseling. During the competitive implementation grant phase of the initiative, 254 public school corporations and charter schools submitted implementation proposals totaling nearly $90 million.

“The response from school corporations and charter schools far exceeded the Endowment’s expectations,” said Sara B. Cobb, the Endowment’s vice president for education. “We believe that this response indicates a growing awareness that enhanced and expanded counseling programs are urgently needed to address the academic, college, career and social and emotional counseling needs of Indiana’s K-12 students.  We were most pleased to see how the schools engaged a wide variety of community stakeholders in assessing their students’ counseling needs and developing strategies to address them.”

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff, and location. 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.