Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) receives $7.9M federal Education Innovation and Research grant

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis is the recipient of a $7.9 million grant as part of the federal Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. CELL will establish a Rural Early College Network (RECN) to help rural Indiana schools more quickly implement the Early College (EC) high school model. Early College targets underserved students and allows them to earn both high school diplomas and up to two years of credits toward bachelor’s or associate degrees through rigorous dual credit classes supported by wrap-around services.

“CELL is delighted to be awarded this significant funding to assist our rural Indiana high schools with accelerated implementation of high-quality Early College programs. The project will offer rural students, many of whom are first-generation college students, opportunities to take rigorous college-level classes while in high school in supportive environments that help ensure their success,” said CELL Executive Director Janet Boyle. “Another anticipated outcome is the establishment of model rural Early College high school sites and a template for fostering additional high-quality Early College programs serving even more students throughout Indiana.”

The University of Indianapolis was the only Indiana grantee among the most recent round of Education Innovation and Research funding, which included 41 grants awarded out of 287 applications. Spread over five years, the grant funding through CELL’s leadership will support faster implementation of the EC model by networking new schools with mentor schools that have earned endorsement for high levels of effectiveness. 

Partnerships with local businesses will help update curricula, develop work-based learning experiences and incorporate Work Ethics Certificate requirements. Five current EC schools will follow a tiered process to eventually mentor 15 new schools. That network will grow the number of high-need students to 3,725 who will benefit from an EC jump-start on postsecondary education by gaining confidence through counseling and support. 

Each mentor school will receive $190,000 over five years, and each new school in the initial tier will receive $150,000 over that period. Schools will use funding for credentialing staff to teach dual credit courses, professional development, student supports, program resources and travel to required meetings. CELL will contribute a ten-percent match ($877,380) of the total cost of the project with the grant providing 90 percent of the total or $7,963,436. 

About CELL
The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis provides leadership that is both cutting-edge and action-oriented. Created in 2001, CELL unites districts, schools, communities, universities and businesses to build a sense of urgency and form innovative collaborations for statewide educational and economic improvement. CELL currently has a network of 90 high schools across the state trained in the Early College model and in varying degrees of implementation. Thirty-one schools have earned the distinction of being named fully endorsed Early College high schools. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has authorized CELL as the sole organization to train, support and endorse Early College schools in Indiana. Learn more: cell.uindy.edu.