Area Schools Prepare To Use Lilly Counseling Grants

INDIANAPOLIS – Several Madison County and area school corporations are among 284 districts and charter schools in the state to receive part of more than $9 million in planning grants from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment in the first phase of a comprehensive counseling initiative for K-12 students.

Anderson Community Schools, Alexandria Community Schools, Anderson Preparatory Academy and Frankton-Lapel Community Schools each received one of the noncompetitive grants. Nearby Daleville Community Schools and Madison-Grant United School Corp. also received grants.

ACS received $50,000 for planning the second part of the application for an implementation grant worth $718,000. The planning grants, starting at about $8,300, were based on district enrollments.

“We will know more in coming months regarding what specifically we are wanting to fund with those dollars, as we will be assessing the current state of our counseling support services in ACSC over the coming months with the $50,000 award,” said ACS Assistant Superintendent Amanda McCammon.

Applications for the competitive implementation grants, which must be used over a four-year period, are due May 19. Applicants may request $100 per enrolled student in amounts from $100,000 to $3 million.

Sara B. Cobb, the Endowment’s vice president for education, said she was encouraged by the response from schools and districts seeking the planning grants.

“The number of proposals received exceeded our estimates, which indicates that schools across Indiana want their counseling programs to be as effective as possible. They recognize the importance of counseling to students’ future success and quality of life,” she said.

“The Endowment is committing funds to this initiative because Indiana needs to increase significantly the number of K-12 students who are emotionally healthy, can realize academic success and graduate from high school.”

Many districts are consulting with youth-oriented organizations, such as the Indiana Youth Institute and Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at University of Indianapolis. ACS officials will start meeting with officials from the Fleck Foundation starting in mid-February in preparation of the implementation grant application, McCammon said.

The grants are part of a five-year effort intended to strengthen how students in grades K-12 prepare for academic, career, and social and emotional success, according to a prepared statement from Lilly Endowment.

ACS and the other recipients will spend the next three months collecting and analyzing data, evaluating their current counseling programs and identifying best practices. In addition, participants will visit schools with promising programs and engage community partners.

APA received a $30,000 planning grant to evaluate its program and discover best practices. Like ACS, APA will be working with the Fleck Foundation.

“We’re always worrying about how we can better serve our kids and add support services,” said Commander Jill Barker, the school’s superintendent. “Our kids have a lot of emotional needs and we have a lot of partnerships in the community, but it would be great to bring some of that in-house.”

Counseling facts

According to research conducted by the Indiana Chamber in partnership with Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at University of Indianapolis, too few schools use best practices in comprehensive counseling to prepare their students for successful lives beyond high school. Specifically, the research found school counselors often are burdened with large caseloads, which limits their ability to help students.

Additionally, the National Association of College Admission Counseling ranks Indiana 45th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of the number of K-12 counselors per student. Indiana schools average about 620 students per counselor.

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