INDIANAPOLIS – Lilly Endowment Inc. has approved grants to 52 Indiana public school corporations and five Indiana charter schools to help them implement promising strategies to strengthen school counseling programs for their students.
The grants – ranging from $68,312 to $2.87 million – are part of the Endowment’s Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students (Counseling Initiative). Launched in September 2016, the five-year initiative is designed to encourage the state’s public school corporations and charter schools to aspire to and eventually develop best practice comprehensive counseling models that effectively address the academic, college, career, and social and emotional counseling needs of their students
Schools in 30 of Indiana’s 92 counties will benefit from the grants. The schools serve some 250,000 students in kindergarten through grade 12. Grant amounts were based on the student enrollment of the school corporation or charter school.
The school corporations and charter schools will use the grants to launch a variety of efforts that include, among other strategies:
- Collaborating with mental health care providers to address their students’ social and emotional challenges;
- Pursuing novel ways to engage local businesses in preparing students for a range of employment opportunities, including developing mentoring and internship programs and planning industry information sessions and site visits to local companies;
- Implementing a comprehensive counseling model developed by the American School Counselor Association;
- Making better use of digital tools and adding and integrating curricula for college and career exploration and preparation;
- Providing professional development to teachers, counselors and administrators so they can identify and address the social and emotional needs of students to improve overall student wellbeing;
- Partnering with colleges and universities to offer college counseling, financial aid assistance, campus visits and related programs.
In January 2017, the Endowment made planning grants to 284 school corporations and charter schools across Indiana to help them assess the counseling needs of their students, study best practice counseling programs in Indiana and around the country, and develop implementation grant proposals for funding to help them address their students’ counseling needs more effectively. In May 2017, 254 school corporations and charter schools submitted implementation grant proposals totaling nearly $90 million.
A large majority of the proposals noted that schools are overwhelmed by the social and emotional challenges their students face, which they indicated have worsened in recent years because of the opioid addiction crisis affecting Indiana communities. They report that too often counselors don’t have the time they need for academic and college and career advising because they must address their students’ urgent social and emotional challenges. Moreover, too many counselors are assigned non-counseling work in their schools, such as administering state tests, assessments and Advanced Placement exams, which takes away time from the performance of their counseling responsibilities.
“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 demonstrates 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.”