It’s estimated that over 60 percent of jobs in Indiana require some form of postsecondary education, but only around 40 percent of residents in Marion County have the credentials they need. The Indy Achieves program is working to close that gap by providing scholarship money and support services to eligible students.
Tapiwa Mzumara was in her first year at Ivy Tech Community College when she was told she couldn’t enroll in the spring semester until she paid off piling tuition bills. She was working in retail and taking classes as often as she could afford. Mzumara’s family had mixed immigration statuses, making it difficult to qualify for federal scholarships and grants.
Years later, Mzumara received an email notifying her that she qualified to receive a grant from Indy Achieves, which would let her return to Ivy Tech and finish her degree.
Mzumara spoke at the three year anniversary of Indy Achieves, celebrated Tuesday morning at the new project office on the Ivy Tech campus. She said grants like the one she was offered are especially important for other DACA recipients, particularly other Black DACA recipients.
“It's important for students that are maybe vulnerable or underrepresented that they're not forgotten about," Mzumara said. "This grant helped me feel seen because it means that people were sitting around a table and they thought of me and they had someone like me in mind to receive the grant.”
Indy Achieves was started in 2019 by mayor Joe Hogsett as an attempt to increase equitable access to higher education.
"It's more important than ever before that we provide realistic pathways for our students to complete their educations," said Hogsett. "Because when they do, it will allow them to get good paying jobs that allow for upward mobility."
The city partnered with the Indiana 21st Century Scholarship Program, EmployIndy and INvestEd to provide services. These include financial aid counseling, scholarships and academic advising. Grants and programs are available for Marion County residents attending Ivy Tech or IUPUI.