The Excel Center has received a planning grant of $30,000 under Lilly Endowment Inc.’s Comprehensive Counseling Initiative for Indiana K-12 Students. The aim of the Counseling Initiative is to increase significantly the number of K-12 students in Indiana public school corporations and charter schools who are emotionally healthy, realize academic success, graduate from high school, obtain valuable postsecondary credentials, certifications and degrees necessary for meaningful employment, and are prepared to compete and prosper in the global society in which they will live and work.
The Excel Center will use grant funds to tour model schools, attend professional development conferences, assess current life coach programs, engage the school and South Bend community, analyze data, and explore alternative strategies and best practices. The goal is to discover the unique counseling needs of adult students to ensure their success in school. This may include personal counseling related to physical and emotional health, parenting, and basic life skills. This includes determining the needs of our students, seeking out best practices to model, and training life coaches to implement appropriate counseling and referrals. Since supporting students is a school-wide effort, training will be provided to other staff as well. The Excel Center is one of 284 Indiana public school corporations and charter schools in Indiana receiving planning grants through the initiative.
In addition to helping public school corporations and charter schools assess their current counseling programs and identify best practices in comprehensive counseling efforts, planning grants will help recipients prepare implementation grant proposals to fund their strategies to improve their counseling programs. Implementation grant proposals are due to Lilly Endowment by May 19, 2017. Applicants may request up to $100 per enrolled student, and amounts of the implementation grants will range from $100,000 to $3 million. The implementation grant phase is competitive. Notification of implementation grant approvals is expected by Sept. 30, 2017.
Executive Director, Randy Beachy, said, “The Excel Center is a high school for adults seeking a second chance to complete the requirements for their high school diploma. The average age of our students is 29, although it ranges from 18 to 70. They bring a different set of counseling needs than traditional age high school students. The Lilly Endowment Grant will allow Excel life coaches the opportunity to conduct research and professional development to better enable them to address the unique needs of our students to assist our students in achieving their goals.”
“Across Indiana, too few schools use a best-practices, comprehensive counseling model to prepare students for successful lives beyond high school,” said Sara B. Cobb, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “Often school counselors are burdened with large caseloads and non-counseling duties, which limit their ability to help students. And often schools struggle to balance addressing students’ college and career counseling needs with addressing their social and emotional needs.
“We believe that enhancing and expanding in a comprehensive way the academic, college, career and social and emotional counseling in Indiana schools could help address the state’s educational attainment and economic challenges. We continue to hear that many Indiana employers have difficulty finding workers adequately prepared for the jobs they have available. If they have adequate time and training, counselors can help students know about the valuable postsecondary credentials, certificates and degrees required for meaningful employment in Indiana, which is essential for their future prosperity and quality of life,” Cobb added.