Shareholders from the Butler Giving Circle recently voted to award the group’s annual community grant to Future Black Leaders (FBL), a student affinity group out of Fishers High School, to support its 7th Annual Black Student Leadership Summit on Butler’s campus in 2025. The $15,000 grant will provide funding for 400 Black student leaders from predominantly white middle and high schools in Central Indiana to attend the Summit, the largest attendance in the Summit’s history.

“To me, receiving this grant from the Butler Giving Circle means that we’ll have the sure means to provide an even higher quality experience to the attendees of our Black Leadership Summit next year,” Jayden Rucker, a Fishers High School FBL student leader, said. “I think that this opportunity for students all around Central Indiana is incredibly impactful and invigorating for these kids and, with these funds, we will be able to continue to evolve and improve our event in ways we haven’t been able to previously.”

The mission of Future Black Leaders of Fishers High School is to radiate excellence, promote racial equity, and empower Black leadership. FBL was established in 2016, and the group began hosting its Black Student Leadership Summit on Butler’s campus in 2023 through collaboration with Butler’s College of Education (COE). 

The student-led Summit brings middle and high school students from surrounding communities and their teachers together with Butler students, FBL alumni from other universities, and Butler faculty and staff to connect and learn from one another. Through the summit, FBL has been able to encourage growth in the number of Black student groups in predominantly white schools along with the number of students participating in those clubs. Recognizing that students’ sense of belonging is a determining factor in their connection and success at school, particularly for students of color in predominantly white institutions, the student leaders of FBL aim to leverage the Summit to foster a sense of belonging for Black students.

The Summit includes breakout sessions led by Butler faculty and staff to help students explore leadership concepts and to advise them about college including topics such as applications, scholarships, and student life. FBL leaders say hosting the Summit on Butler’s campus allows attending students an opportunity to envision themselves belonging in college as students and as leaders. 

“Receiving the Butler Giving Circle Grant means that 400 students get to experience empowerment and educational opportunities at the 2025 Black Student Leadership Summit,” Fishers FBL student leader Brooklynn Ferrell, said. “With this money we can hire more speakers and provide more educational opportunities and more ways to network together in order to become amazing leaders in our lives.”

Representatives from Butler’s COE, Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Office of Strategic Engagement, and the Efroymson Diversity Center are members of the team who listen, support, and mentor the FBL student leaders in planning the Summit.

“Students are the creators, designers, and facilitators of the Black Student Leadership Summit. Because the event is developed by students with the support of adults from Fishers and Butler, the structure empowers the high school planning committee and attendees to voice their needs while developing as leaders, community members, and possibly college-bound individuals,” Cathy Hartman, Senior Lecturer in COE and member of the student support team, said.

The FBL proposal was chosen from three finalists at the BGC’s annual shareholder meeting on June 20. Each of the remaining finalists received seed money from the BGC’s annual pool of funds to assist with funding their proposals:

  • College of Communication, Tanorria’s Table, Shalom Health Care, Greenwood Indiana Pride; Five Fountains Services for Community Partners
  • College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Arsenal Technical High School; BUPACT High School Summer Camp

“The Butler Giving Circle is all about coming together as a Butler alumni community to give back and serve our Indianapolis community,” Loren Snyder ʼ08, Chair of the BGC Executive Committee, said. “What a special opportunity for Butler’s campus to serve as host for more than 400 of the best and brightest young Black leaders from across Central Indiana high schools! We are proud to support their mission in addition to the other finalists from our annual shareholder meeting. All deserving causes are doing great work for our Indianapolis community.”

The Butler Giving Circle was established in 2019 and is designed to connect alumni to their philanthropic areas of passion, focused on two mission-critical elements of the University’s vision for the future: community partnerships and student access and success.

With an annual gift of $500, Butler alumni can become shareholders in the Butler Giving Circle. After shareholder funds are pooled, 40 percent of the funds are directed to the Butler Fund for Student Scholarship, 40 percent are granted to an Indianapolis community partner(s) with an existing affiliation to Butler, and 20 percent are directed to the Fund to Support Student Mental Health, the Giving Circle’s current priority partner.New shareholders can join the Butler Giving Circle at any time by making a gift at