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Helping Indy Achieves Increase Student Enrollment

A chance for all eligible Marion County students to attend college at no cost: that’s the promise the Indiana 21st Century Scholarship Program makes to middle school Hoosiers. But with program enrollment at less than 100%, Indy Achieves—tasked by Mayor, Joe Hogsett, to help increase 21st Century Scholarship Program enrollment—brought in KSM Consulting (KSMC) to help understand enrollment patterns and gaps in order to address them appropriately… and ultimately enroll a greater number of eligible students.

Indy Achieves Executive Director, Matt Impink, says, “We knew we had some schools who were exhibiting strong enrollment patterns and others who weren’t, but we didn’t necessarily have insight into what was creating those differences.”

The KSMC team assessed Indy Achieves’ data to help identify the specific actions that led to higher enrollment. The biggest insight? Schools with the highest percentage of students enrolled relied primarily on handing out and collecting paper applications, thus eliminating the online barrier for families who didn’t have easy access to the internet.

“What we learned from the data was that there wasn’t necessarily a link between school size, geography, or school type,” Impink explains. “What made the real, measurable difference in enrollment was a school counselor’s ability to maximize the limited time and resources that they have.”

With this discovery, KSMC helped Indy Achieves create a “best practices” counselor toolkit that included—among other essential items—a flowchart outlining the steps needed to achieve a successful enrollment. Additionally—in response to KSMC’s data insights—Indy Achieves added unique tools to their website, including a fillable PDF application and a link for families to request a paper application be mailed directly to them with a self-addressed, stamped envelope included for easy return.

Indy Achieve’s goal is to increase eligible 2019/20 student enrollment in the 21st Century Scholarship Program to greater than 60-70% and to continue to work toward 100% enrollment in 2020/21.

Pleased with the work KSMC produced, Indy Achieves is engaging the company with additional data-driven projects to help inform more targeted marketing programs, such as this video produced after KSMC’s initial data analysis was complete. In addition, KSMC will analyze census data for income level, households with children, and other relevant information to help Indy Achieves develop a highly targeted communications outreach strategy to engage families that qualify for the 21st Century Scholarship Program.

Indy Achieves also intends to work with KSMC to build a data system that monitors 21st Century Scholarship Program participants from middle school all the way into the job market to help provide essential support and resources along the way.

The partnership between KSMC and Indy Achieves is mutually beneficial, and one that benefits Hoosier students… as well as the entire State of Indiana. More access to educational opportunities means a more informed and qualified Indiana workforce.

That’s a win-win-win.