Franklin College and the University of Indianapolis will host summer academic camps next year, with over $1.1 million in grant money from Lilly Endowment Inc.

The money will be spread over three summers, with both schools hosting camps for middle schoolers, as they explore potential interests in areas such as science, technology, engineering and math, visual and performing arts, writing, business and healthcare. Recruited students will participate in the weeklong camps, the costs of which will be paid for by grant money. College officials at both schools will also spend the money on attracting guest speakers, paying a program coordinator, providing food and transportation to and from campus, giving stipends to counselors and providing educational materials for campers.

Lilly Endowment awarded $28.8 million to Indiana colleges for the Indiana Youth Programs on Campus Initiative, including $489,480 for Franklin College and $688,938 for UIndy.

With their gift, Franklin College officials will launch Camp GRIZ for students entering sixth through ninth grade. Offerings will include science fiction writing, graphic design, data science, physics and paleontology.

In working with external partner Thomas P. Miller and Associates, an Indianapolis-based business management consultant, college officials were able to determine which courses would be best to offer, looking at middle school standards from the Indiana Department of Education and making sure not to duplicate offerings from other camps, said Kristin Flora, the college’s dean and vice president for academic affairs.

“We wanted to target middle school students because they age out of camp programming, which really stops in fifth or sixth grade, which leaves a programming gap for middle school students,” Flora said. “Students are not old enough to have jobs and have limited options of what to do in the summer. We also wanted to focus on middle school students because they’re at the age when they start to see themselves as potential college students. Getting them on campus and showing them the amenities and programming available on a college campus we feel is helpful as they start to look at their future goals.”

One of the goals of the program is to serve underrepresented students, such as racial or ethnic minorities and students who would be the first in their family to go to college. In order to help find these students, Franklin College officials are working with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Johnson County, The Indiana Latino Institute, Indianapolis Public Schools, Girls Inc., the Knowledge is Power Program and the Center for Leadership Development, she said.

College officials have a goal of serving 75 students in the first year and 150 each year after that, and hope to continue the program beyond the life of the grant, Flora said.

The Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center at the University of Indianapolis on Sept. 2. Andy Bell-Baltaci | Daily Journal

UIndy’s summer camp will include educational opportunities in healthcare, business, arts, education and science, technology, engineering and math. The camp will include educational opportunities not just in the classroom, but in the field. Students interested in arts and humanities, for example, may get the chance next summer to watch the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra perform, if all goes according to plan, said Andy Kocher, vice president of corporate and community partnerships.

The camp will serve students entering eighth through 10th grade, and college officials hope to serve 100 students each of the three summers, Kocher said.

“We thought that if we’re exploring the idea of what college could look like and what a career could look like, it should come at a formative time in student’s life,” he said. “By junior and senior year, they have college visits and some idea of where they want to go. If we did eighth through 10th grade, it could be more of an opportunity to open up some thinking for them that they might not have done prior.”

The program will not just help students learn, but will help them discover potential career interests, Kocher said.

“I think this can be transformational, to provide students the opportunity to not only experience what a college environment would be like, but to be in a classroom on a college campus with college professors and realizing what that would be like for them,” he said. “Connecting that to a career and life beyond college is truly a unique and transformational opportunity for those students. We’re honored to be able to provide that.”