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Martin University Receives Lilly Endowment Grant to Implement Youth College & Career Institute

The OAKS academy officially launched on Monday, July 11, 2022. Pictured below is the first generation of OAKS participants.

Martin University is pleased to announce that it is a recipient of a $750,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc through its initiative, Indiana Youth Programs on Campus. The grant is for the planning, design, implementation, and ongoing evaluation of the university’s O.A.K.S. Youth College & Career Institute. The institute will offer programs to male high school youth in partnership with the Indianapolis chapters of historically Black fraternities Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Kappa Alpha Psi, and Phi Beta Sigma Incorporated. O.A.K.S is derived from the initials of each.

With the grant, the university will provide year-round programming by offering dual credit options to students enhanced with professional skill development. An adult education program component will allow the parents/guardians of the student participants to earn certificates at Martin that can be used toward a degree if they choose to enroll at the university.

“We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for helping us build our O.A.K.S. Youth College and Career Institute into a program that successfully changes the trajectory of young males of color in our region,” said Martin University President Sean Huddleston. “Through this grant, Martin will help reshape the lives of youth and their families and continue to be an institution that strives for educational excellence and builds upon our mission.”

The strategic support from Lilly Endowment through its Indiana Youth Programs on Campus initiative will provide critical and vital resources for youth in Central Indiana and will expose them to higher education as well as mentoring and career development. The curriculum, which includes collaborations with the local historically Black fraternities, will cultivate higher education pathways toward successful possibilities, progress, and prosperity for the youth that Martin serves.

The partnership is designed to address the recent decline in the number of students pursuing higher education and increase the number of young Black males pursuing college. The fraternities will assist the program in identifying and recruiting the target population of high school males of color. The Institute will provide both academic (dual credit) and experiential learning opportunities for high school minority males focused on education, culture, interpersonal and skill development, post-secondary knowledge, awareness, and preparation for college.

The program was created with a two-generation approach that also allows the parents/guardians of the program participants to explore general education classes (Indiana College Core) at Martin, earn certificate courses toward a college degree, and learn how higher education can better provide gainful employment for their families.

Success will be measured using standardized outcome objectives. Primary processes to ensure the desired outcomes will include operating as part of the academic year and providing a nonresidential four-week paid summer apprenticeship program with stipends. The Institute is expected to address the issues around pursuing higher education and impacting families and the community well into the future when more Black males are going to college.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli 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 founder's wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and its home state, Indiana.

Founded in 1977, Martin University is Indiana’s only Predominantly Black Institution of higher education. It is steeped in a history of service and open to a diverse population of students. Martin’s mission is to elevate the landscape while providing transformative opportunities, inclusive support, and service throughout its communities.


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