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Lilly Endowment Provides Nearly $5 Million to Continue Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowships

Release Date: 
Dec 13 2011

A new grant of $4,896,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. will allow the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to create two additional rounds of fellowships that recruit and prepare math and science teachers for high-need rural and urban Indiana schools and that encourage change in the way Indiana teachers are prepared.

WW Fellow Eric Sprague speaks to students at Crispus Attucks.
WW Fellow Eric Sprague speaks to students at Crispus Attucks.

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Beverly A. Sanford, 609-945-7885

The Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellowships, created in late 2007 with an initial Lilly Endowment grant of more than $10 million, prepare accomplished career changers and outstanding recent college graduates in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (the STEM fields) to teach in the state’s high-need secondary schools. Along with supplemental state funding of more than $3 million, championed by Gov. Mitch Daniels, the new Lilly Endowment grant brings the program total to just over $18 million.

“We are always pleased to see new ideas percolate in the field of teacher training,” said Sara B. Cobb, Endowment vice president for education. “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. The program is an important part of the Endowment’s efforts to improve education.”

Fellows receive a $30,000 stipend to complete a special intensive master’s program at one of four selected Indiana universities—Ball State University, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Purdue University, and the University of Indianapolis. All four universities have redesigned teacher preparation to prepare teachers in local classrooms, the way physicians learn in hospitals and attorneys in law offices. Programs also include intensive emphasis on specific teaching approaches for the STEM fields. After a year of classroom-based preparation, Fellows commit to teach for at least three years in a high-need Indiana school, with ongoing support and mentoring.

“This additional commitment from Lilly Endowment is a gift to Indiana, its children and its future,” said Arthur Levine, the president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. “The Fellows and the partner universities are doing amazing work to strengthen STEM education in the state’s high-need schools. Lilly Endowment is once again demonstrating tremendous education leadership for Indiana.” Levine, a former president of Teachers College, Columbia University, led a multiyear study on needed improvements in teacher education and is a nationally noted expert on teacher preparation and education reform.

“This generous support from the Lilly Endowment will continue the preparation and training of high quality STEM teachers," said Uday Sukhatme, Executive Vice Chancellor and Dean of the Faculties at IUPUI. "IUPUI is steadily emerging as a national leader is the STEM disciplines as a result of the Woodrow Wilson program as well as other federally funded initiatives. Next year, we plan to establish a dedicated STEM Institute on campus to serve as an umbrella for the many ongoing research and training efforts, and open up additional exciting opportunities.”

“The School of Education is proud to significantly increase the number of exemplary teachers in STEM areas through preparation of our Woodrow Wilson Fellows," said Patricia Rogan, Executive Associate Dean of the IU School of Education at IUPUI. "As the only Woodrow Wilson program in the country offering dual certification (STEM plus special education), our graduates are highly qualified to improve student success in high need schools.”

From the first two years of the Fellowship competition, 104 Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows are working in schools throughout the state. Another 54 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.

“In our school, we’re finding that the Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows are well prepared pedagogically and have a strong background in their content areas. They don’t have some of the insecurities and management issues we can sometimes see in new teachers—several of my colleagues have said they feel the Fellows are much more prepared for the classroom than is the case with new teachers who have a typical one-semester student teaching experience. We would definitely consider working with more of these Fellows,” said Troy Inman, principal of Pike High School in Indianapolis.

Robert Guffin, the principal at Harshman Magnet Middle School, said, “Several Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellows have been placed here at Harshman for their internship experience, and they have been willing, collaborative, and supportive of our mission. We were fortunate that we could hire one of last year’s Fellows as our engineering teacher for the 2011-2012 school year. We’re not surprised that he is quickly developing into a teacher leader.”

The Indiana fellowship is part of a national Woodrow Wilson fellowship initiative with four goals: to transform teacher education by creating new models of preparation at the participating institutions; to get strong teachers into high-need schools; to attract the very best candidates to teaching through a significant fellowship with national prestige; and to cut the nation’s teacher attrition rate of one-third to one-half during the first three years of teaching and retain top teachers through intensive clinical preparation and ongoing in-school mentoring.

Indiana was the first state to implement the Woodrow Wilson approach. To date, two other states—Ohio and Michigan—have followed Indiana’s lead. Additional states are in discussion with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation about creating versions of the Woodrow Wilson Teaching Fellowship.

Applications for the 2012 group of Woodrow Wilson Indiana Teaching Fellows are available online at through Jan. 10. The next Fellows will be named in spring 2012 and will begin master’s work later in the year. They will be ready to start classroom teaching in 2013.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation ( identifies and develops the best minds for the nation’s most important challenges. In these areas of challenge, the Foundation awards fellowships to enrich human resources, works to improve public policy, and assists organizations and institutions in enhancing practice in the U.S. and abroad.

Lilly Endowment Inc. ( is an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family—J.K. Lilly Sr. and sons J.K. Jr. and Eli—through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. The Lilly family’s foremost priority was to help the people of their city and state build a better life. Although the Endowment also supports efforts of national significance and an occasional international project, it remains primarily committed to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.