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October 23, 2020

Lilly Endowment Grants WGU Indiana $1 Million to Propel Strategic Skill Translation Initiatives

WGU Indiana earns ‘Charting the Future’ funding to address problems that hinder historically underserved Hoosiers from preparing for and connecting with fulfilling careers.

INDIANAPOLIS – WGU Indiana has been granted $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc., through its initiative, Charting the Future for Indiana’s Colleges and Universities, to help working students in Indiana easily transfer skills-based educational credentials into traditional higher education student information systems through a learner owned record called an “Achievement Wallet.”

As the state’s only online, competency-based university, WGU Indiana recognizes that there is no simple way beyond a resume to convey verifiable skills and credentials to a potential employer. One challenge for many Americans is having their skills, competencies and experiences recognized in the labor market, which is largely dependent on a resume that communicates credentials measured in credit hours to identify potential value for the employer. Obtaining those credit hours can be costly and sometimes prohibitive for many underrepresented and adult learner-workers. Additionally, the average time and cost to hire a new employee based on a traditional resume is 42 days and $4,129.

To fill this gap, WGU Indiana will use its Charting the Future funding to implement technology that helps build a learner owned record called an “Achievement Wallet.”  WGU Indiana will collaborate with Goodwill of Central & Southern Indiana, Skillful Indiana, IBM, and National Student Clearinghouse to pilot the program that will demonstrate an easier way to connect adult high school completers with education for and jobs in healthcare professions. The objective is to deliver wrap-around community care services to students and real-time talent to potential employers.

“WGU Indiana has long served as an educational technology leader to benefit students from all different backgrounds, especially those who are not well-served by traditional colleges, including adult learners,” says Alison Bell, Chancellor of WGU Indiana. “In fact, since 2010, 82 percent of the student population worked full- or part-time while earning their WGU Indiana degree. With this Charting the Future grant, we plan to implement programs that enhance the work we are already doing to recognize the skills and competencies Hoosiers earn in college and in life and provide a badly needed avenue to opportunity for Indiana’s most vulnerable citizens.”

The initial pilot will be available to students in the WGU Indiana College of Health Professions with the intention to make the “Achievement Wallet” available to all WGU Indiana students in the future. The skills library for health professions will help WGU Indiana students within the healthcare industry more accurately communicate their specific skill sets and credentials to healthcare employers around the state. The goal is to bring enhanced transparency and opportunity to all Hoosiers and facilitate more equitable, life-long learning recognition.

Lilly Endowment launched Charting the Future in late 2019, making available more than $108 million. With the initiative, the Endowment invited all of Indiana’s 38 accredited public and private colleges and universities to consider what it would take to improve their efforts to educate students and prepare them for successful futures while thoughtfully examining the long-term financial sustainability of their institutions.

This implementation grant was awarded under the second phase of three-phase Charting the Future. In this phase, Lilly Endowment invited proposals that present promising strategies that will result in economies of scale and other cost efficiencies to enhance the viability and financial condition of the institutions and prepare graduates for rewarding employment and to live engaged and meaningful lives, especially in Indiana. Grants under a third phase, which is competitive, will be awarded in 2021. Those grants will support collaborative efforts that seek to have large-scale impact on the ability of higher education institutions in Indiana to fulfill their educational missions.

“WGU is committed to advancing opportunity and access in higher education and we are grateful to partner with the Lilly Endowment to support these efforts for Indiana students,” said Annalisa Holcombe, president of WGU Advancement, the university’s fundraising arm. “The Charting the Future Initiative provides us the opportunity to not only pilot and develop concepts that will help WGU Indiana students, but also expand to support a skills-based future for learners nationwide.”

More information is available on the Lilly Endowment’s higher education and workforce development initiatives and on the Charting the Future initiative. For more information on WGU Indiana, visit or follow the university on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and LinkedIn.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is a private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by J.K. Lilly Sr. and his sons Eli and J.K. Jr. through gifts of stock in their pharmaceutical business, Eli Lilly and Company. While those gifts remain the financial bedrock of the Endowment, the Endowment is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff and location. In keeping with the founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.

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