Creation of the IUPUI Solution Center and the Community Venture Fund
In the first three years of operation (May 2004-December 2006), a $1.7 million grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled the University to establish the Solution Center and the IUPUI Community Venture Fund. In less than three years, the Solution Center facilitated 1,212 internships, projects, and research collaborations, 839 of which were created or assisted by funding from the Venture Fund. During this time period, the Solution Center awarded 206 grants to 142 business, nonprofit organizations, and government and educational institutions. Partnering organizations contributed in excess of $1.2 million to support these engagements, creating 662 internships, 473 projects, and 77 research partnerships between the community and the University.
From 2007-2008, the Solution assisted over 150 Central Indiana small businesses and nonprofit organizations to develop partnerships and collaborations with IUPUI faculty, researchers, and students. Increased awareness in the Solution Center’s role led to a greater number of students and faculty involved in Solution Center projects and research collaborations than ever before. During this period, the Solution Center facilitated 195 internships, 134 class projects, and 17 research initiatives for a total of 346 engagements.
Because of the success of the Solution Center and the important part that the Community Venture Fund played in building community partnerships, the Solution Center was awarded a five-year renewal grant from the Lilly Endowment in 2009.
From 2009 -2013, the Solution Center leveraged more than $4.9 million for engagement: $1,575,601 in Community Venture Fund awards were matched by $3,325,808 from community partners. Between January 2009 and December 2013, the Solution Center worked with 727 community partners in 615 organizations (514 not-for-profit and 101 for-profit), to create 1,404 internship opportunities, 726 community and class-based or service projects, and 125 research activities; in total, 1977 different engagements involving 540 faculty collaborations.
Solution Center Impact
Since the start of the Community Venture Fund in 2004 to December 2013, the Solution Center has worked with 1,153 community partners to create a total of 3,235 engagements (1,688 internships, 1,326 projects and 221 research activities). List of Solution Center Partners
The Community Venture Fund proved to be a valuable resource to increase the number of internships and quantity and quality of experiential learning opportunities for IUPUI students. As a result, the Solution Center leveraged $7.56 million for engagement during its ten years of operation: $3,010,142 in Venture Fund Grants and $4,550,415 leveraged in community match support for internships and projects.
The IUPUI Community Venture Fund has had an impact on the IUPUI academic community and the IUPUI Solution Center community partners. The most recent impact evaluation conducted in 2012 showed that 92% of partner organizations participating in Community Venture Fund projects responded that their participation enabled them to better meet their goals. Over two-thirds (77%) expressed that internships and projects brought a creative perspective into their organizations, and 73% believed that the experience improved their productivity.
Similarly, the study revealed that 85% of students considered that the opportunity helped them define their vocational interests and strengthen their professional skills. According to the survey, 80% of the students believed that after having participated in the experience they were better prepared for a job and that the experience was useful to understand the importance of networking with employers. For 60% of the students the internship helped them increase their professional contacts to support their career goals.
As for participating faculty, 92% expressed in the survey that the collaboration opportunity had been beneficial and worthwhile to them.