VU receives $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand pre-college programs

VU receives $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to expand pre-college programs

Students at VU stem summer academy

August 29, 2022

VINCENNES, Ind. - Vincennes University has received a $1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Indiana Youth Programs on Campus. The grant will help VU broaden its series of Pre-College Programs for K-12 students.

The Lilly Endowment initiative is designed to help Indiana colleges and universities to engage youth, ages 5 to 18, in high-quality on-campus enrichment programs that encourage young people to explore their interests and envision a future for themselves in college.

With the new grant, VU will expand its Pre-College Programs to help more students see themselves as college-level and college-deserving students. This funding will enable VU to expand multi-day summer programs such as the Summer STEM Academy, Techmester, and Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) programs, as well as short-term camps throughout the year for students in 7th-12th grades, hosted on VU campuses throughout the state. 

The breadth of different programs is particularly important to VU’s Pre-College Programs as students will have access to explore a variety of career fields, including STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), automation, information technology, aviation, music, and agriculture. 

Partnering with VU Early Colleges and Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, JAG, and middle and high schools, VU’s Pre-College Programs will provide students with opportunities to discover their passions, experience advanced instructional labs, interact with faculty, and learn about college life by immersing themselves in all the VU campuses offer.

VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson believes this initiative comes at an opportune time for the University.

According to Johnson, “Vincennes University is proud to be a part of this Lilly Endowment initiative in Indiana to increase the number of high school students pursuing post-secondary education. VU will use this generous support from the Lilly Endowment over the next three years to bring more K-12 students to our campuses than any other time in VU history. Through these efforts, students will engage our outstanding faculty and staff and will learn about the many career paths that exist in Indiana and the education and training required to pursue them at VU and among our sister institutions."

Lilly Endowment launched the initiative, in part, to respond to the significant decrease in the number of Hoosiers pursuing higher education degrees. In 2015, 65 percent of Indiana high school graduates were going straight to college. The college going rate has dropped steadily since. In 2020, only 53 percent of Hoosiers were attending college the year after high school. 

Goals for the initiative include increasing the number of Indiana youth who obtain valuable postsecondary degrees and credentials and to help schools strengthen how they recruit students, especially students who have been traditionally underserved by higher education institutions.


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 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.