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UE Receives $1 Million from Lilly Endowment Inc. for Youth Programs

The University of Evansville (UE) has received a grant of $1 million from Lilly Endowment Inc. to support the establishment of camps and afterschool programs for youth outreach in the Evansville community and beyond.

With the grant, UE will also establish a new Office of Youth Programs. This department will develop and oversee PathFinder programs, which are designed to create a spark for youth to consider and obtain a college education. With PathFinder, middle and high school students will explore various disciplines and engage in activities to help them intentionally design the future they want for themselves, their families, and their communities. Some of the initial PathFinder programs will include Springboard, STEM, Wesley Shepherd Music, UE Dance Company, and UE Explorers.

Lilly Endowment made the grant through its initiative, Indiana Youth Programs on Campus, which is helping colleges and universities across Indiana develop new and strengthen existing efforts to provide enriching campus-based programs for students, ages 5 to 18.

“At UE, we know that education transforms lives and communities,” said Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, president of UE. “Our PathFinder initiative will help youth to envision a future for themselves that begins with a college education. We are very grateful to Lilly Endowment for sharing this vision and always striving to support education for all.”


In partnership with Black Lemonade, a non-profit organization, Springboard is designed to prepare and empower high school students of color and those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds for life beyond grade 12. Guided by UE faculty, staff, and students, youth in this summer program will create positive change through the studying of various cultures and creation of podcasts, news stories, articles, and social media posts.

Wesley Shepherd Music

This week-long summer music camp, hosted by the UE Music Conservatory, will be designed for grades 6-12. It will include performances, instrument and vocal lessons, music theory, and more. Wesley Shepherd Music will be led by full-time faculty from the Conservatory, and current music students will also assist and mentor the youth.


STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is comprised of growing academic fields, and this camp is designed to increase youth interest in them. Heavy emphasis will be given to natural sciences and mathematics, and career options will be discussed for each field. Students entering grades 9-11 will engage in hands-on activities, experiments, and data analyses across chemistry, biology, and mathematics. Camp students will also shadow current UE students conducting undergraduate research projects.

UE Dance Company

Modeled after the nationally acclaimed Mad Hot Ballroom program, this five-day summer camp will be available for students entering grades 8-10. Each day, students will learn a new dance, such as the Rumba and Tango, and they will prepare for a showcase at the end of the week. Selected dancers at the camp will be invited to join a newly established Junior Aces Performance team, which performs at UE basketball games and other campus events.

UE Explorers

UE Explorers is an afterschool program that will debut in the fall of 2022. Each month, a rotating UE faculty member will lead middle school students in the exploration of a new academic area. This program will be delivered in partnership with local youth-serving agencies Dream Center Evansville, Potter’s Wheel, and the YCMA.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, 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. Although the gifts of stock remain a financial bedrock of the Endowment, it is a separate entity from the company, with a distinct governing board, staff, and location. In keeping with the founder’s wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community developmenteducation, and religion and maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.