Butler University has received a grant of $907,993 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Indiana Youth Programs on Campus (IYPC). The grant will help the University launch Butler BOOST, an initiative designed to prepare Indiana youth for success in postsecondary education and careers through meaningful camp experiences.

Lilly Endowment’s IYPC initiative is designed to help Indiana colleges and universities engage youth, ages 5-18, in high-quality on-campus enrichment programs that can help young people envision a future for themselves in college.

Butler will use the grant to create Butler BOOST, a comprehensive youth camp program that provides infrastructure and support to expand innovative youth camp experiences on Butler’s campus with a particular focus on technology career pathways. Through BOOST, Butler seeks to build greater organizational capacity to provide Indiana youth with opportunities and experiences to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to support their success in postsecondary education and careers. The funding will enable Butler to bolster current camps, launch new camps, and provide scholarships for them beginning in summer 2023.

The three main camp formats are:

Explorer Camp (one-week day camp): Butler BOOST will feature access to day camps offered at Butler with technology-career pathways integrated throughout these one-week experiences. Participants will have the opportunity to pick from the following offerings: Pharmacy Camp; Health Sciences Camp; Butler Way Camp; Theatre Camp and Theatre and Technology Camp; Arts Camp 2.0; and Journalism, Sports Media, Drone Videography, Web Design & Development Camps. Scholarships will be available to 25 percent of participants.

Catapult Camp (four-week day camp in partnership with Nextech): Catapult is a fully-immersive computer science program for all high school students in Marion County and the Evansville area who aspire to a career in technology. Taking place across a four-week period, each summer Catapult is taught by a licensed Indiana computer science teacher. Participants develop technical skills, create authentic peer relationships, improve workplace readiness, create plans for postsecondary success, and build deep roots for a lifelong personal and professional connection to Indiana. Nextech has partnered with best-in-class community organizations and industry volunteers to facilitate a series of learning experiences to ensure all Catapult participants develop a strong foundation of skills needed to succeed in college, career, and life. This four-week summer day camp will be free and held on Butler’s campus in summer 2023.

Residential Camp (one-week residential camp): Butler BOOST will also offer a one-week Residential Summer Camp (slated to start in June and July 2023) for targeted rising freshman through seniors. One hundred students will be targeted per camp, and scholarships covering 100% of the camp cost will be available to half of the participants. This Residential Camp will be designed so that students can experience college culture and life at Butler while being exposed to leadership, technology-related fields, and postsecondary educational support. Potential wrap-around services for students at Butler’s Residential Camp will include: identifying appropriate college programs at Butler related to their careers of interest; submitting college, scholarship, and financial aid applications; managing the social and emotional transition from high school to postsecondary life; and connecting students to Indiana’s postsecondary resources, including Ascend Indiana, TechPoint, Indy Achieves, and Indiana INTERNnet.

“Indiana has done a terrific job in recent years of attracting technology companies to the state,” Butler President James Danko said. “Unfortunately, many of those companies face talent-related obstacles because thousands of Hoosier youth lack access to opportunities for developing the skills necessary to succeed in tech jobs. I applaud Lilly Endowment for stepping up to help fill the gap by funding efforts at Indiana’s colleges and universities, and am grateful that they have chosen to invest in Butler University so that we can expand and elevate the interdisciplinary tech programming available to students throughout the entire year, better serve our youth, and directly support the workforce development needs of our state.”

Lilly Endowment launched IYPC, 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 high education institutions.