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Lilly Endowment gives $4.9M for teaching fellowships

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Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. is giving $4.9 million to fund the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, which prepares career changers and college graduates to teach math, science, engineering and technology in rural and urban schools.

The Endowment gave $10 million four years ago to launch the program, which trained its first crop of teachers in 2009. The new grant will fund two more classes of teachers.

The New Jersey-based Woodrow Wilson foundation has partnered in Indiana with Ball State University, Purdue University, IUPUI and the University of Indianapolis to train teachers. The universities revamped their programs to prepare teachers in local classrooms, similar to the way physicians learn in hospitals and attorneys in law offices.

Fellows receive a $30,000 stipend to complete a special intensive master’s program at one of the universities. After a year of classroom-based preparation, the fellows commit to teach for at least three years in an urban or rural school, with ongoing support and mentoring from the foundation.

There are 104 Woodrow Wilson teaching fellows working in Indiana schools, with another 54 doing their master’s training and in-classroom preparation. The program claims it has retained 99 percent of its fellows in the teaching profession.

Fellows are now progressing through the program, doing master’s work and clinical preparation in Indiana classrooms. To date, the program has a 99-percent retention rate for teachers.

“The program is an important part of the Endowment’s efforts to improve education,” said Sara Cobb, vice president for education at the Lilly Endowment, in a prepared statement. “The Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows are finding this program a challenging and exciting experience, and they are transmitting that excitement in high-need schools across Indiana.”

After launching its program in Indiana, with more than $3 million in support from the state of Indiana, the Woodrow Wilson foundation has replicated it in Michigan and Ohio, and is planning to expand it to other states.

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