Carey Dahncke named new CELL executive director

Carey_DahnckeThe University of Indianapolis has named Carey Dahncke as executive director of the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL). Dahncke will begin work on August 31, 2020.

Dahncke brings 28 years of experience as an educator, having taught in secondary and elementary classrooms—including a year in rural England as part of the Fulbright program. Dahncke transitioned into urban education in 1997 when he joined Indianapolis Public Schools to engage in school improvement work as a new principal. In 2006 he was recruited to help Christel DeHaan’s fledgling charter school. Under his leadership, the single school grew into an award-winning network serving impoverished children and adults across the city.  Most notably, in 2013 he was named by MetLife and NASSP as one of ten national Breakthrough Principals for dramatically improving the academic outcomes of students living in poverty.  

Since 2001, CELL has engaged in education transformation efforts to make Indiana a national model for educational excellence. Its efforts have focused on bringing Early College opportunities to high school students across the state, as well as the STEM Teach initiative aimed at increasing the number of highly qualified science, technology, engineering and mathematics teachers for Indiana schools. 

“CELL’s work has been integral in connecting Indiana school districts with innovative strategies to engage the most pressing education issues of our time,” said Robert L. Manuel, University of Indianapolis president. “The University is thrilled to welcome Carey Dahncke to this pivotal leadership role. Carey’s dedication to servant leadership and educational transformation will help lead CELL’s future evolution within the University of Indianapolis.”  

“I look forward to joining the University of Indianapolis, as I’ve long been an admirer of the mission and its work,” Dahncke said. “For many years, CELL has been at the center of educational innovation across the region. Now, during these unprecedented times, the need to support dynamic educational leadership in Indiana couldn’t be more vital. Building on CELL’s phenomenal success, I am eager to help schools expand outstanding educational opportunities for all Hoosier students.”

As executive director of CELL, Dahncke will oversee strategic planning, staffing, budgeting, advocacy, school and government relations and other statewide initiatives, including the Education Workforce Innovation Network, STEM Teach, the Lilly Endowment Comprehensive Counseling Initiative and Early College High School. Dahncke will report to Interim Vice President and Provost Mary Beth Bagg, and will work closely with School of Education Dean John Kuykdendall on collaborative initiatives.

Immediate past CELL Executive Director Janet Boyle will continue to direct the Rural Early College Network project. Under Boyle’s leadership, CELL secured several key grants for important initiatives, including the $7.9M federal grant through the Education Innovation and Research program and a $2.4M award from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Boyle also led the statewide Early College initiative and created the STEM Teach initiative in partnership with Independent Colleges of Indiana.

“I would like to express my gratitude for Janet Boyle’s leadership and innovation. Janet’s work has ensured CELL’s strong presence at regional and national levels, which has allowed us to connect with educational leaders across the country and explore how our educational system can respond to the complexities of our world,” President Manuel said.

Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis receives $7.9M federal grant

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis is the recipient of a $7.9 million grant as part of the federal Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. CELL will establish a Rural Early College Network (RECN) to help rural Indiana schools more quickly implement the Early College (EC) high school model. Early College targets underserved students and allows them to earn both high school diplomas and up to two years of credits toward bachelor’s or associate degrees through rigorous dual credit classes supported by wrap-around services.

“CELL is delighted to be awarded this significant funding to assist our rural Indiana high schools with accelerated implementation of high-quality Early College programs. The project will offer rural students, many of whom are first-generation college students, opportunities to take rigorous college-level classes while in high school in supportive environments that help ensure their success,” said CELL Executive Director Janet Boyle. “Another anticipated outcome is the establishment of model rural Early College high school sites and a template for fostering additional high-quality Early College programs serving even more students throughout Indiana.”

The University of Indianapolis was the only Indiana grantee among the most recent round of Education Innovation and Research funding, which included 41 grants awarded out of 287 applications. Spread over five years, the grant funding through CELL’s leadership will support faster implementation of the EC model by networking new schools with mentor schools that have earned endorsement for high levels of effectiveness. 

Partnerships with local businesses will help update curricula, develop work-based learning experiences and incorporate Work Ethics Certificate requirements. Five current EC schools will follow a tiered process to eventually mentor 15 new schools. That network will grow the number of high-need students to 3,725 who will benefit from an EC jump-start on postsecondary education by gaining confidence through counseling and support. 

Each mentor school will receive $190,000 over five years, and each new school in the initial tier will receive $150,000 over that period. Schools will use funding for credentialing staff to teach dual credit courses, professional development, student supports, program resources and travel to required meetings. CELL will contribute a ten-percent match ($877,380) of the total cost of the project with the grant providing 90 percent of the total or $7,963,436.

About CELL
The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis provides leadership that is both cutting-edge and action-oriented. Created in 2001, CELL unites districts, schools, communities, universities and businesses to build a sense of urgency and form innovative collaborations for statewide educational and economic improvement. CELL currently has a network of 90 high schools across the state trained in the Early College model and in varying degrees of implementation. Thirty-one schools have earned the distinction of being named fully endorsed Early College high schools. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education has authorized CELL as the sole organization to train, support and endorse Early College schools in Indiana. Learn more:

About the grant
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced $123 million in new grant awards to 41 school districts, nonprofit organizations and state educational agencies across the United States as part of the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program. These grants provide funding to create, implement or take to scale an evidence-based innovation to improve academic achievement for high-need students, and for a rigorous evaluation so that others may learn from its results.

In addition to promoting innovation, the awards include over $30 million to eight grantees serving rural areas and over $78 million to 29 grantees focused on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The EIR program is authorized under Section 4611 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act, and is administered by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.

About the University of Indianapolis
The University of Indianapolis, founded in 1902, is a private university located just a few minutes from downtown Indianapolis. The University is ranked among the top National Universities by U.S. News and World Report, with a diverse enrollment of nearly 6,000 undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students. The University offers a wide variety of study areas, including 100+ undergraduate degrees, more than 40 master’s degree programs and five doctoral programs. More occupational therapists, physical therapists and clinical psychologists graduate from the University each year than any other state institution. With strong programs in engineering, business and education, the University of Indianapolis impacts its community by living its motto, “Education for Service.” Learn more:


ICHE awards $2.4 million to CELL for STEM teacher training

Thanks to a $2.4 million award from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (ICHE), the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) and the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI) are able to continue their successful STEM Teach initiative. This program aids high school teachers needing graduate-level courses in STEM discipline areas to meet the Higher Learning Commission requirement for teaching dual-credit courses by 2022. 

This new funding to support STEM Teach IV will also provide opportunities for K-12 teachers such as:

  • Regional STEM workshops offered by local colleges and universities to boost STEM instruction
  • Undergraduate courses offered through colleges and universities to assist teachers with enhancing STEM instruction and/or adding a STEM content area to their existing teaching licenses
  • Scholarships for teachers to attend STEM-based statewide conferences

The STEM Teach award was the largest of 16 awards that totaled $9.6 million granted by ICHE to organizations and colleges across the state through the Indiana STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund. The General Assembly created the fund in 2013 to increase the number and quality of teachers in key subject areas where many school districts experience shortages. This is the fourth time STEM Teach received the grant.

“CELL and ICI are proud to once again receive funding for STEM Teach. Our quality program will continue to serve Indiana teachers of STEM content areas by meeting ongoing needs,” said CELL Executive Director Janet Boyle. 

In-service teachers will begin applying for acceptance into the program through an online application in late October 2019. Teachers who successfully completed courses in STEM Teach III will not need to reapply for this opportunity. Registration for courses and workshops for teachers accepted into the program are available based on each teacher’s priority status and will occur several months before each semester begins.

About the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning

Created in 2001, the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis serves as a leading convener, catalyst and collaborator for dynamic, innovative education change to dramatically impact student achievement throughout Indiana. CELL’s efforts are rooted in the principle that all students, regardless of background, should graduate from high school prepared for postsecondary education, training, and success in the 21st-century global economy.

With primary funding from Lilly Endowment Inc., CELL has leveraged resources to unite schools, communities and businesses to make substantial, sustainable, statewide education change to improve academic success for Hoosier students and strengthen the quality of life and economic development in Indiana.

About STEM Teach IV

STEM Teach IV has been designed to offer ICI member and public institutions the opportunity to work together to increase the number of qualified dual-credit teachers of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in Indiana. Tuition, books, and materials for these courses will be offered at no cost to teachers employed at public schools, including charters, in Indiana by utilizing funds available through the STEM Teacher Recruitment Fund to pay colleges and universities for these expenses.

EWIN names three new Education-Workforce Planning Grant recipients

The Education Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN) has announced three new Education-Workforce Planning Grant recipients for $7,000 each. They include groups led by Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart and Navistar, Student Career Partners for Northeast Indiana and River Forest Community Schools (RFCS) in Hobart. With the grant, each partnership will benefit from EWIN technical assistance through 2019 including support of collaboration within their communities, research of promising models, site visits to explore innovative approaches and development of plans customized to each area’s needs and resources.

“We are so excited to work with these dedicated groups that are leveraging community partners to invest in the meaningful development of career pathways systems. Our goal is to facilitate the pathway system planning process so those groups can replicate that process to create additional opportunities for students,” said EWIN Director Erin Foster. “The result will be implementation of innovative, data-driven, industry-led educational models that align with needs of the local economy. We have incredible experiences planned for these teams and can’t wait to get started!”

Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart and Navistar will partner with Elkhart Plastics, Inc., Better World Books, the South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees, Elkhart Area Career Center and the South Bend Regional Chamber. The group will collaborate to develop a K-14 Supply Chain Management and Logistics Pathway that educates, trains and develops a sustainable pipeline of supply chain management and logistics employees.

“The Ivy Tech South Bend-Elkhart Campus team is thrilled to be selected as one of this year’s grantees. The grant funds will enable our project to directly align with the college’s strategic plan for developing K-12 partnerships, accelerating educational opportunities for students and incumbent workers while meeting the needs of our communities and employers,” said Amber Ruszkowski, department chair and associate professor for Business Administration and Logistics, South Bend-Elkhart Campus.

The Student Career Partners for Northeast Indiana includes Region 8 Education Service Center, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Fort Wayne Community Schools, Ivy Tech Northeast, Parkview Health, Junior Achievement and the Olin B. and Desta Schwab Foundation. This partnership will use grant funds to create a career-ready pathway program that motivates and guides students through a process to develop individualized career road maps based on their talents, interests, post-secondary choices, financial resources as well as high-wage, high-demand employment options in the area.

“Our team in Northeast Indiana is pleased to partner with EWIN on this effort. We look forward to leveraging the expertise at CELL (Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning) to build on our regional work to help students across the 11 counties of Northeast Indiana identify and access opportunities for future success,” said Ryan Twiss, vice president of regional initiatives in the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

River Forest Community Schools (RFCS) is spearheading a community partnership made up of 16 regional businesses, postsecondary institutions, organizations and agencies. Their goal is to collaboratively implement a full advanced manufacturing pathway with K-12 aligned curriculum and postsecondary certifications and degrees that lead to high-demand, high-wage employment.

In addition to RFCS, the partnership includes Praxair, Indiana Manufacturers Association, Calumet Area Industrial Commission, Northwest Indiana Forum, The City of Hobart Economic Development, Lake Shore Chamber of Commerce, Center of Workforce Innovations, Vincennes University, Ivy Tech Community College, Purdue University Northwest, Indiana University Northwest, U.S. Army, Neighbors’ Educational Opportunities, Via Marketing, World of Words and Innovations in Learning.

Rachelle Baker, graduation pathway coordinator, River Forest High School, said, “Preparing River Forest students and supporting their career goals are our top priorities. Developing an advanced manufacturing pathway with EWIN and partners is an invaluable resource for increasing student achievement, verifiable skills and future quality of life.”

This is EWIN’s fourth round of planning grants offered to education-workforce partnerships across the state to support development of implementation plans for regional or local sector-based career pathways. Pathways help make students college and career ready, inspire curricular programs grounded in the real world, engage businesses in K-16 learning experiences and provide the local workforce with highly skilled employees.

EWIN is an initiative of the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL), a non-profit at the University of Indianapolis, which unites districts, schools, communities, universities and businesses to build a sense of urgency and form innovative collaborations for statewide educational and economic improvement.

For more information, contact EWIN Director of Education Workforce Innovation Network Erin Foster at 317-791-5991.


EWIN expands statewide impact with grants, technical assistance

Grantees visit student-run Commodore Manufacturing at Perry Central Junior-Senior High School and listen to a student explain the organization of the assembly line.

Grantees visit student-run Commodore Manufacturing at Perry Central Junior-Senior High School and listen to a student explain the organization of the assembly line.

The Education Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN), an initiative of the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL), granted $15,000 to three community partnerships and then provided technical support for each to develop career pathways in their regions of Indiana. EWIN finished its work with these partnerships at the end of 2018, which included facilitating collaboration within their communities, researching promising models, site visits to explore innovative approaches and development of plans customized to each area’s needs and resources. Each partnership involved K-12 education, postsecondary, businesses/industry, and other community agencies such as workforce development.

These grantee partnerships are as follows:

An Aviation Maintenance group is developing a robust K-16 career program to help meet the talent supply challenge created as current maintenance technicians and related personnel retire. Key members include Republic Airline, AAR, Textron Aviation, M.S.D. of Wayne Township, M.S.D. of Decatur Township, Area 31 Career Center, Vincennes University Aviation Technology Center, Wayne Township Adult Basic Education, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, EmployIndy and Work One Central Indiana.

Greensburg High School leads a partnership developing a healthcare pathway program for students to increase engagement, self-awareness, career knowledge, and academic rigor necessary for pursuing healthcare related careers. Other partners include Ivy Tech, United Fund, WorkOne, Mayor Dan Manus, Decatur County Memorial Hospital, Aspen Place, as well as Decatur County’s Economic Development, Chamber of Commerce and Community Foundation.

Posey County Economic Development headed the third partnership that is working to grow talent for its advanced manufacturing industry with high tech high wage positions that require specialized training and expertise. This county partnership has involved business, K-12 education and postsecondary institutions to attract high-level employees, retain workforce, improve skills of existing employees as well as prepare students to enter these fields.

EWIN is also supporting two regional partnerships with $5,000 mini grants to boost their career pathway development already under way. Recipients are led by Whitley County Economic Development Corporation in pursuing an advanced manufacturing pathway and the Center of Workforce Innovations in Northwest Indiana that is developing a healthcare consortium.

EWIN is beginning its Round 4 of its Education-Workforce Partnership planning grant work by leading another group of grantees through the career pathway system development process. Partnerships will spend the next six months researching innovative models both in and out of state to determine and develop the most appropriate career pathway for their communities.

“With the growing focus on and quickly changing landscape in the education-workforce arena, communities are finding it imperative to mobilize collaborative cross-sector partnerships to address educational needs as well as the gaps in the local skilled workforce,” said EWIN Director Erin Foster. “The EWIN team has a track record for effectively facilitating this process across the state as we strive to help schools and communities align their efforts for maximum impact.”

Read more here.



Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning announces new Early College High School director

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis has named Emily Burke as Director of its Early College High School initiative.

“We are excited to have Emily Burke join our CELL team as she brings extensive higher education experience along with solid knowledge of the Early College model,” said CELL Executive Director Janet Boyle. “While at Butler University, she guided the establishment of an Early College partnership with Shortridge High School. Plus, as a first generation college graduate, Emily is passionate and committed to growing CELL’s Early College initiative.”

Emily Burke, Director for Early College, CELL

Emily Burke, Director for Early College, CELL

Burke brings a wealth of experience to CELL from her numerous roles in higher education at Butler and Jacksonville universities. Most recently at Butler, she was a foundation officer in University Advancement and previously was associate director in the Learning Resource Center and student advisor in the Office of Post-Graduate Studies.

Burke said her experience working with high school students enrolled in Butler’s program demonstrated the crucial opportunities that Early College can provide.
Read more

CELL to serve in technical support role to K-12 Schools in Lilly Endowment statewide counseling initiative

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis is one of three organizations selected by the Lilly Endowment Inc. to provide technical support to public school corporations and charter schools as they apply for planning and implementation grants to strengthen their counseling programs.

“I am pleased that CELL is being recognized once again for bringing innovation to K-12 Indiana schools,” said University of Indianapolis President Robert Manuel. “CELL’s expertise in networking schools, delivering support and providing research-based guidance will help districts and schools transform their counseling services.”

Lilly Endowment Inc. has launched a five-year Comprehensive Counseling Initiative to expand innovative counseling services and incorporate strategies that better prepare K-12 Indiana students for academic, career and personal success. The Endowment expects to allocate up to $30 million for this initiative depending on the number, types and quality of proposals submitted. To read the Request for Proposals, go to

Read more

CELL names education-workforce directors

The Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis has selected two directors for its Education Workforce Innovation Network. EWIN provides assistance to regional leaders throughout the state as they develop career pathways and support employers with a pipeline of educated and trained personnel to meet workforce needs.



Alisa Deck has been named Director of Education Workforce Cultivation. Previously, she was director of college and career readiness for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, served in admissions and career placement for Ivy Tech Community College, worked for a Tier 1 automotive supplier and was an EcO15 coordinator for Decatur County. She has been an adjunct instructor in organizational leadership and supervision for Purdue University as well as for numerous courses in Ivy Tech’s schools of Business and Workforce & Economic Development. Deck is certified in Interpersonal Management Skills and Frontline Leadership through AchieveGlobal. She holds a master’s degree in management from Indiana Wesleyan University and graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in general studies from Indiana University.



Shannon Doody was promoted to Director of Education Workforce Partnerships. She previously served CELL as coordinator of school-workforce initiatives and helped to direct EWIN initiatives across the state. She also worked with CELL’s Early College network, providing outreach to member schools. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and a master’s degree in school counseling and clinical psychology from Ball State University, where she researched qualities of effective advisory curriculums and the role of the school counselor in closing opportunity gaps for traditionally underserved populations. She holds a license in school counseling and formerly served in admissions for Valparaiso University.

Read more

Grant supports statewide workforce initiative

Lilly Endowment provides $925,000 to continue the regional alignment efforts of the Education Workforce Innovation Network, an initiative of UIndy’s CELL

CELL logo

News coverage:
Inside Indiana Business
University Business
Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

A statewide initiative to align K-12 and postsecondary education with regional workforce needs will continue for another two years, thanks to a $925,000 grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) at the University of Indianapolis.

The grant will directly support the Education Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN), administered by CELL, which identifies and works to close gaps in education-workforce alignment through regional partnerships among school corporations, institutions of higher education, workforce development agencies, business and industry, nonprofit organizations and other stakeholders.

Established in 2012, EWIN provides resources and technical assistance in clarifying workforce needs and coordinating educational programming and training efforts, including the implementation of innovative new models. Its partnerships are organized according to the 12 Economic Growth Regions established by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, enabling programs to be tailored specifically to local issues and industries.



“The goal is to create educational opportunities that match the economic realities of Indiana’s workforce demands,” said CELL Executive Director Janet Boyle. “This new funding will support further progress as we make strategic investments in innovative programming to benefit students, business and industry and, as a result, the economy in different regions across the state.”

Read more

High schoolers to get head start on college

From left at today’s announcement are Perry Meridian High School Principal Rolland Abraham, Perry Township Superintendent Thomas Little Jr., Vincennes University President Chuck Johnson and UIndy President Robert Manuel.

UIndy, Vincennes University, Perry Meridian High School
announce partnership on new ‘1+3’ Early College program

In the news: WISH-TV, Inside Indiana BusinessUniversity Business

A growing number of Indianapolis teens can begin their transition to college and career during freshman year of high school – and at low cost – thanks to an innovative three-way partnership between Perry Meridian High School, Vincennes University and the University of Indianapolis.

The three institutions today announced the 1+3 Program, which enables qualifying students on Perry Meridian’s Early College track to graduate from high school with a 30-credit General Studies Certificate from VU. Students who complete the program and meet admissions standards will be accepted directly into UIndy with at least one year of General Education credits already in hand, providing the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree with only three years of further study.

“Making post-secondary education more affordable and accessible is an ongoing initiative at the University of Indianapolis, and we specifically are committed to elevating the quality of life for our neighbors in this part of the city,” said UIndy President Robert Manuel. “This partnership provides tremendous value for local families, and we look forward to replicating the model with other high schools.”

Read more

1 2