The application window is now open for over 50 scholarships held at Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF). The foundation expects to award over $1.5 million to students in Central Indiana. Applications may be submitted Nov. 12 through Feb. 5, 2020 at cicf.org and recipients will be notified by July 2020 of awards for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

CICF has a long history of awarding scholarships from its affiliates, The Indianapolis Foundation and Hamilton County Community Foundation, as well as from scholarship funds created by individuals, families, groups or corporations. In total, CICF is home to over 50 scholarships ranging from $500 to full tuition, many of which are eligible for renewal. These scholarships vary by area of study, location, type of school and academic performance. 

After changing its mission in 2018 — to mobilize people, ideas and investments to make this a community where all individuals have equitable opportunity to reach their full potential, no matter place, race or identity — CICF has intentionally shifted its scholarship and education strategies to better align with the diverse post-secondary education landscape and student body. 

“Education is a powerful tool that leads to economic mobility for individuals and their families, but the tool is not one size fits all,” said Shanna Young, scholarship officer at CICF. “We want every type of student seeking every type of credential to have access to financial funding, and we evaluated and restructured our scholarship program to meet that need.” 

Young acknowledged that while it’s beneficial to see more students attending four-year degree programs in recent decades, it is concerning to see student debt is also rising while high-quality jobs are left unfilled. 

According to Lumina Foundation’s report, “Today’s Student,” nearly four in 10 students are over the age of 25; 68% of bachelor’s degree earners graduate owing an average of $30,100; and, while middle-skill jobs account for 58% of Indiana’s labor market, only 47% of the state workforce are trained to the middle-skill level.  

The foundation is working to ensure its scholarship programs reflect today’s student and the changing workforce by creating a pipeline of skilled workers to fill those middle-skills jobs. 

“We want anyone seeking post-secondary credentials and financial assistance in the form of scholarships to see themselves in our program. Not all applicants are seniors in high school attending a university, but that’s the image most people think of when they create a scholarship,” says Young. “We need to better support students seeking credentials outside of a four-year degree.”

While traditional universities and colleges are a practical option for many students, a four-year degree is not the only viable pathway to career. Many high-quality jobs require other credentials acquired from trade, vocational and technical schools, as well as two-year colleges. As such, CICF worked with scholarship fund holders and its staff to reflect this changing education environment to ensure more credential-seeking students have scholarship opportunities.

CICF scholarships now emphasize the type of school a scholarship supports, rather than an individual’s year in school. Seniors in high school, students already in school and adults returning to school all have an opportunity to obtain an education by way of scholarship.

“Scholarships lead to education, and education leads to high-quality jobs,” says Young. “It is our goal to make education and our scholarships more equitable for all credential seekers, no matter where a person is in life or their career aspirations. Education should be accessible to everyone.”

To view and apply for nearly 50 scholarships managed by CICF, its affiliates and donor scholarship funds, visit cicf.org/scholarships. Applications are accepted Nov. 12, 2019 through Feb. 5, 2020.

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