Huntington University Receives Lilly Endowment Advancing the Science of Reading Grant

Funds will expand teacher preparation and support reading proficiency among Indiana students

HUNTINGTON, Ind. — Huntington University has received a grant of $500,000 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana. The grant will leverage Huntington University’s current momentum in data-informed literacy instruction, expanding and enhancing the use of evidence-based instructional methods aligned with the Science of Reading in the University’s teacher preparation program.

Huntington University is one of 28 Indiana colleges and universities that received grants from Lilly Endowment to support efforts that integrate Science of Reading-aligned principles into teacher preparation programs.

"I believe that empowering teachers with knowledge is the key to helping students succeed in reading,” said Holly Ehle, assistant professor of education at Huntington University and a reading specialist. “The Science of Reading has demystified the process of how children physiologically learn to read and offers evidence backed by science to confirm that there are specific methodologies that more effectively teach students to read and write. At Huntington University, we seek to teach these important facts and findings to our preservice educators so that they are equipped to go out into Indiana classrooms and effectively teach all students to become proficient readers."

In support of this goal, Huntington University will train all pre-service teachers in methodologies that align with Science of Reading principles. Teacher candidates will receive support through a designated faculty member with specialized knowledge and academic credentials in Reading Science, a new teacher training and material resource center within Huntington University’s Department of Education for teacher candidates and clinical educators and a program-wide comprehensive training sequence on literary instruction. The University’s Science of Reading-aligned curriculum will undergo regular evaluations to ensure it is reflecting best practices, and there is potential for further growth as momentum continues to build, particularly in the area of offering training to current educators.

“This generous funding from Lilly Endowment will further equip Huntington University to fulfill our ongoing commitment to prepare pre-service teacher educators with proven, data-driven Science of Reading strategies,” said Luke Fetters, EdD, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Huntington University. “As part of this project, Huntington University will also come alongside area school systems to offer continuing education and other Science of Reading resources that align with statewide initiatives.”

In addition to supporting HU students, the Science of Reading department specialist will build relationships between HU faculty, Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) support organizations, national Science of Reading experts, regional school districts and local educators. By connecting current educators and teacher candidates with available resources and evidence-based best practices, the University will contribute to Indiana educators’ shared goal of providing the highest quality literacy support and instruction for Indiana children.

“It is imperative that more of Indiana’s elementary students learn to read proficiently, and it is essential that current teachers and the next generation of teachers are prepared to use proven principles to teach reading in their classrooms,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “We are pleased therefore to help Indiana colleges and universities strengthen the use of these research-based principles to teach reading in their teacher preparation programs.”

Lilly Endowment launched the Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana initiative in 2022. It complements a statewide effort undertaken in 2022 by the IDOE to improve reading achievement in K-12 schools by helping current teachers implement Science of Reading-aligned principles in their classrooms. In 2022, the Endowment made a $60 million grant to the IDOE to support that work with school districts and teachers across the Indiana.

About Lilly Endowment Inc.:

Lilly Endowment Inc. is an Indianapolis-based, private foundation created in 1937 by J. K. Lilly 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 its founders’ wishes, the Endowment supports the causes of community development, education, and religion, and it maintains a special commitment to its hometown, Indianapolis, and home state, Indiana.