Tribune staff reports

A Trinity Lutheran High School senior has been selected as the recipient of a full-tuition, four-year scholarship as the Community Foundation of Jackson County 2016 Lilly Endowment Community Scholar.

“Luke Onken was selected from a group of outstanding applicants from all six high schools in Jackson County and will receive full tuition to the Indiana college of his choice and a $900 yearly stipend for required books and equipment,” said Sue Smith, the foundation’s vice president.

Onken, the son of Lance and Carol Onken, plans to attend the University of Notre Dame and major in biology and math with the goal of attending medical school upon his graduation.

With the selection of Onken, there are now 35 Lilly Endowment Community Scholars from Jackson County, with the first recipient selected in 1998. During the 2016-17 academic year, there will be four Jackson County Lilly Scholars on college campuses throughout the state.

Seventy-eight Jackson County seniors from all six high schools in Jackson County applied for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship this year.

Criteria for selection included academic achievement, school and community activities showing depth of involvement and leadership and employment showing time management and a desire to help oneself. Additional criteria included advanced placement and honors classes taken in high school, a required essay and some evidence of financial need.

After the community foundation’s scholarship committee narrowed the field, Onken’s name was submitted to Independent Colleges of Indiana Inc. for the final selection of the recipient. ICI is a nonprofit corporation that represents 31 regionally accredited degree-granting, nonprofit private colleges and universities in the state.

“The scholarships are the result of a statewide Lilly Endowment initiative to help Indiana students reach higher levels of education,” Smith said.

Indiana ranks among the lowest states in the percentage of residents older than age 25 with a bachelor’s degree. There were 142 Lilly Endowment Community Scholarships awarded statewide this spring.

Increasing educational attainment among Jackson County residents is an important part of the foundation’s mission to help grow better tomorrows, said Dan Davis, the foundation’s president and CEO.

“Concern about the education levels here was a key factor when the foundation brought other partners from across the county together to establish the Jackson County Learning Center, and we remain committed to that goal,” Davis said. “It is certainly part of our guiding efforts in administering scholarship funds entrusted to the foundation.”

The foundation’s efforts to improve educational opportunities extends beyond programs focused on college, including support of the Jackson County Education Coalition’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program for 4-year-olds and the encouragement of workforce development in partnership with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and others, Davis said.

The foundation offers endowment services, gift planning, charitable gift annuities and scholarship administration.

For information or to make a donation, call 812-523-4483.