Manchester University President Dave McFadden
Manchester University President Dave McFadden
NORTH MANCHESTER - President Dave McFadden announced Friday that Lilly Endowment Inc. has given Manchester University $1 million to extend its outreach to traditionally underserved students and their families.

“The grant will enable us to fully develop NxtGen on Campus, which will bring high school students to our North Manchester campus for specialized academic visit days and weeklong summer residential camps at no or little cost to them,” he said.

“Working with our fantastic partners – Fort Wayne Community Schools, Questa Education Foundation, Latinos Count – and others including the American Camp Association, we will move forward immediately to set up this program designed to serve students who come from the first-generation, traditionally underserved and undocumented communities.”

Manchester will also renew its efforts in Wabash and other area counties, according to a news release from the university. It had completed a single semester of its NxtGen youth leadership program for Wabash County high school students right before the COVID-19 lockdown of March 2020.

“It was a tremendous pilot program, and we intend to implement a similar program with this grant,” McFadden said.

Manchester will hire a NxtGen director and create an admissions counselor position to specialize in serving those students and their families.

“There are a lot of details to be finalized, but the plan is to include faculty, staff, administrators, current students and alumni, professional coaches and trainers in this bold initiative,” McFadden said.

On-campus visits will start this semester, inviting students and their families to explore higher education as an option. Customized for them, the sessions will provide information about researching colleges, applying for admission and plotting a four-year map. A major element will be connecting them to available, and manageable, funding sources.

“The focus will be on exploring academic disciplines and purpose-driven leadership training – about what they want to do in life and how they might get there,” McFadden said.

Manchester will offer its first NxtGen residential camp for students in summer 2023.

The grant is part of the Lilly Endowment Inc. Indiana Youth Programs on Campus initiative.

“Manchester University has a long history of welcoming students who are the first members of their family to further their education past high school,” McFadden said. “Upon reviewing the Lilly Endowment request for proposals, it was clear we not only had the ability to ramp up our outreach to first-generation students, but a moral imperative to do so.”

Noah Smith, a 1994 Manchester University alumnus and member of the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of Education, and Steve Corona at Latinos Count, encouraged the partnerships.

“We will purposefully include those who are undocumented in this programming that offers encouraging on-campus experiences,” McFadden said. “It is our hope that through education, experience and building a trusting relationship, these high school students and their families can see a path forward in higher education.”