Info For
Skip to Content
Entrance to Taylor University

Taylor University Receives Grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. for Education Department

  • Published:
education demonstrates reading teaching technique to young students

Taylor University has received a grant of $749,261 from Lilly Endowment Inc. through its initiative, Advancing the Science of Reading in Indiana. The grant will support Taylor’s Education Department in preparing students to teach literacy with evidence-based pedagogical strategies and materials.

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

Taylor’s Education Department strives to develop Christian teachers who are competent, caring, reflective, and prepared for service. In order to be prepared for service, education majors must be trained in the statewide-mandated SOR approach to literacy, which emphasizes five essential elements of literacy including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

Although teaching literacy through SOR has recently been mandated by the state of Indiana, it has been part of Taylor’s early literacy curriculum for well over a decade. This grant will allow Taylor’s Education Department to strengthen literacy training. Specific efforts include hiring a Director of SOR implementation, developing a new corrective reading course and incorporating a “literacy endorsement,” completing a curriculum review process for education programs, supporting SOR-related professional development training for faculty, providing SOR-related orientation sessions for local K-12 teachers hosting Taylor practicum students, and hosting a speaker series with SOR experts.

The Education Department at Taylor also hopes to become a host site for future SOR-related professional development training sessions to model outstanding training in literacy instruction.

Dr. Ben Hotmire, Dean of Business, Education, Social, and Behavioral Science, along with Dr. Melissa Jessup and Professor Christy Moore worked directly on the grant.

Dr. Hotmire remarked, “For generations, alumni from Taylor’s Education Department have been well-known for their high degree of professionalism, care, and impact in the lives of their students. We see our involvement in this grant as another example of our desire to ensure that our teachers are well-prepared with research-based strategies that will continue to help children learn and grow.”

Education Department Chair Dr. Jessup expressed, “We look forward to the impact this grant will have on the literacy training of our preservice teachers as well as the support we can provide to teachers in our community partner schools. Our graduates are sought after each year because of the training they receive. This grant will allow us to strengthen our program and provide a deeper depth of literacy training for our undergraduate, Transition to Teaching, and online students.”

“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 Indiana Department of Education (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 Indiana.

About Taylor University

For over 175 years, Taylor University has combined rigorous academics with the Christian faith and remains the oldest nondenominational school in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). For nearly three decades, Taylor has been ranked a top Midwest College by U.S. News & World Report. The University’s graduation rate is the fourth highest nationally among peer institutions, and 99 percent of Taylor’s graduates were employed or in graduate school within six months of graduation. With a strong legacy of service and global opportunities, Taylor also ranks nationally for study abroad internships and travel opportunities.

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.