Huntington University receives $800,000 Lilly grant

Huntington University has received an $800,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative Indiana Youth Programs on Campus. HU will use the funds, which will be dispersed over the next three years, to fund a variety of Indiana youth learning and engagement opportunities on campus.

“This grant is the catalyst for Huntington University to launch Forester Camp,” said Matthew Gerlach, director of academic camping. “Forester Camp is HU’s vision for a series of year-round day and overnight camp experiences that provide fun, engaging, and experiential learning opportunities for elementary and high school kids.”

Lilly’s Indiana Youth Programs on Campus initiative is a response to the changing demographics and recent and expected declines in the number of college-going students. Through this initiative, the hope is that Indiana colleges and universities — like Huntington University — will offer more tangible onsite experiences for all Indiana high school students to experience what a higher education may look like. Specifically, however, this initiative will further Indiana’s efforts to recruit and educate more students of color, first generation college students, and students from families with limited resources.

“If a Hoosier kid wants to attend a camp, we want to remove any barriers to attending that they may have,” said Gerlach. “Financial barriers are, of course, an obvious challenge for some families, but perhaps a more common barrier is a level of comfort with the location or camp timeframe. For instance, if a family has no experience with a college campus, the idea of coming to one for a full week might be intimidating. The goal of Forester Camp is to remove those barriers by creating a variety of ways to experience these camps.”

Forester Camp will offer three specific camp experiences: summer overnight camps, summer day camps, and day camps during the academic year. Building on HU’s already positive summer academy offerings, Foresters Camp will continue to offer — and enhance — the current camp options such as Film Camp, Animation Camp, Voice & Performance Camp, and Agbioscience Camp but will also create options for camps focused on nursing, occupational therapy, college prep and more.

Additionally, established events such as StoryCon will be absorbed into the Forester Camp portfolio as day camps. StoryCon, which was created by the Department of English at HU, is an annual event focused on teaching attendees about writing everything from novels and plays to epic poems, screenplays, graphic novels and more.

By leveraging events like StoryCon as part of the Forester Camp offerings, the opportunities for Hoosier youth to be a part of college campus experiences — regardless of family history of university attendance, funding, or other possible barriers — increase and grow,” said Gerlach.

Visit to learn more about what Huntington University is doing and dreaming for the youth of Indiana.