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Posted on November 30th, 2018 in Events, Organizational Updates Tags:

WorkOne Indy staff members serve a wide variety of audiences and this week the focus was on veterans. At the JVSG Veterans Conference, Career Navigators and Service Providers from all over the state gathered to learn more about best practices, programs, and tools available to better assist this population. Many of these individuals have served in the armed forces and have passion in their hearts to help other veterans take the next steps to navigate back into the workforce.

“With every military person that I have come across, there is a sense of commitment and dedication to whatever they are working on at the time.”
– DWD Commissioner Fred Payne

Darrell Johnson, Commissioner Payne, and Joshua McDonald

A major point of discussion revolved around the importance of partner organizations working together to invest in these individuals and continue to grow the numbers of veterans served, especially amongst this time where employers are actively seeking individuals with a wide variety of training and qualifications. There were several staff members from service providers who were recognized throughout the state as individuals who excel in this practice, and two of them were from Region 12 (Marion County): Joshua McDonald and Darrell Johnson.

Joshua was one of five recipients of the “Annual Performance Incentive Award,” recognized for his “never take no for an answer” approach and his work in exceeding expectations by reaching out to other organizations in order to retain positions and “going above and beyond” to connect with veterans.

Darrell was given the “Service Provider of the Year Award,” a state-wide award for one individual who excels at work, actively honors all veterans, and “raises the bar” for team members. Darrell has been called upon to share his experience serving veterans and his passion for this population far exceeds job requirements.

EmployIndy is so proud to have WorkOne Indy staff members who go above and beyond to serve the residents of Marion County. With the goal of breaking down barriers for all individuals and providing opportunities and connections so that they can take the next step in their career, service providers and career navigators are the individuals on the front lines who are making things possible.

This recognition is well deserved and the hope is this success will continue to grow as WorkOne Indy services expand into different areas throughout Indianapolis, such as libraries, adult education centers, and Ivy Tech, in order to serve more residents.


Posted on November 29th, 2018 in Organizational Updates, Success Story

WorkOne Indy staff gathered today to reflect on a year of service to Marion County residents, taking time that is normally used for enrichment and teamwork to for a celebration that was both enriching and unifying.

Staff members voted for their peers in four categories to recognize achievement in categories that identified excellence in behind-the-scenes support, positive attitude, professional growth, and overall excellence. Winners were recognized with their nominations read aloud for the group for traits like customer service with complex clients, problem-solving through tricky situations, and their willingness to support colleagues with new ideas and friendly support.

Tori Robinson, a RES Operations Supervisor and winner of the “Brightest Star” award, spoke of one of her clients who was struggling – going through ABE classes to brush up on skills while also dealing with an abusive relationship.  “Every time she came in I encouraged her to continue to apply to jobs, and keep faith,” Tori said. “Weeks later, instead of her coming in with the frown, she came into the office with a big smile just to say that she now found her dream job!”

Tori cited compassion – especially for difficult clients who find success – as a key motivator that drives staff when working daily to help people with their career.

“These sort of events are not just about recognizing hard work – they bring staff together in a way that builds chemistry and understanding so that our staff identify as a team with a common goal.”

Penny Dunning, EmployIndy’s Director of Career Services

As EmployIndy has guided WorkOne Indy to lean into a service model that stresses consistency, staff are encouraged to learn from each other and identify best practices for career navigation of clients. This concept is expanding beyond the walls of the WorkOne Indy offices and into numerous organizations around Indianapolis as EmployIndy continues to build relationships with community partners to regularly house WorkOne Indy staff in places like libraries, Ivy Tech, and adult education providers.

With EmployIndy acting as the central guide and intermediary of Indy’s entire workforce ecosystem, this idea of sharing and recognizing efforts goes beyond WorkOne Indy. Best practices are being identified between service providers, programs, and community partners across the ecosystem – and EmployIndy has developed Ecosystem Enrichment meetings and the Employing Indy newsletter to share these valuable ideas.

But today it was about WorkOne Indy staff like Tori, who earned her award for her willingness to try new ideas and encourage coworkers to innovate. “We all work hard,” she said, “and knowing that we are consciously identifying and learning from each other’s accomplishments is important to help us feel like a cohesive unit.”

Check out photos from the event below, and let EmployIndy know about your workforce development success story so we can feature it.


INDIANAPOLIS, IN – November 20, 2018 – Today nine young adults completed a training program that gives them the power and the tools to change their lives. The Pivot Re-Engagement Center, a partnership between EmployIndy, Finish Line Boys and Girls Club, and Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE), celebrated their first cohort of the “Power Huddle,” a mindset and employability skills course that prepares individuals for their next step in establishing their career.

Located at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club on North Post Road, the Pivot Re-Engagement Center is one of many ways that EmployIndy has focused efforts on the Far Eastside, a target area of their strategic plan where unemployment and poverty remain higher than the rest of Marion County. EmployIndy launched the Pivot Re-Engagement Center with a goal of registering 100 young adults in 2018. Since the soft launch in May 2018, 740 individuals have signed up. Not only does this signify that there is a need for a safe space, but there is also a desire in these young adults to grow.

“They go through [the Power Huddle] not knowing it is a huge stepping stone for them,” said Jamarro Johnson, YES Youth Employment Specialist at CAFE. “When we meet and I address the steps to make this possible, they realize that their dreams aren’t as far off as they once imagined.”

The first Power Huddle cohort

This is why the Power Huddle is a crucial first step to finding sustainable employment, discovering their passions, or engaging in post-secondary training and education. Once through the Power Huddle, CAFE is engaging participants by providing assistance in adult basic education enrollment and guiding young adults into their career through a variety of career exploration and service elements. For Pivot participants, these opportunities provide a gateway for each individual to pursue his/her dreams.

“It’s all about transformation for us,” said Rodney Francis, EmployIndy Senior Director of Opportunity Youth Initiatives. “If they are self-motivated and learn to establish a vision and goals for themselves, then they have a better chance at success.”

The participants come from a variety of backgrounds, but all share the same dream of creating a bright future for themselves. Daysha, 22, is a Power Huddle graduate who started her education at Indiana University in 2014, but then had to drop out for financial and transportation reasons. She decided to move back to Indianapolis and enroll at IUPUI. A little over a year ago, Daysha resigned from IUPUI for similar reasons but also had a realization: “Not only could I not pay for my own wifi, I realized I didn’t know what I wanted to do or where to apply myself.”

Jayden, another participant, is 17 and graduating early from Lawrence North High School. He finished all of his classes this past summer, and this fall he has been working at McDonald’s while waiting to walk at his high school graduation in December. Jayden has always wanted to become a carpenter but not looked into local training opportunities, so he was not sure how he could reach this next step.

“When [Pivot instructors] were talking, they were all saying things I needed to hear to build my own self-confidence,” said Jayden. “Instead of always underestimating myself, I had a real potential to go and achieve my goals. It helped me to see myself from a different perspective and know that I am capable of doing what I dream.”

This sentiment was the resounding echo from the students. The Pivot Power Huddle opened their eyes to see where their passions align with their skills and current workforce needs in high-demand industries.

Since completing the Power Huddle, Daysha has decided to not only re-enroll at IUPUI and get her bachelor’s degree in Communications, but she wants to apply for the Peace Corps by next year so she can work overseas with youth. In addition, Jayden has looked into the best carpentry courses and wants to start his own business once he has achieved his certification and established a solid amount of reliable clientele.

“I think this program truly has the potential to impact young lives on the eastside,” said Erik Davenport, the Pivot Re-Engagement Center Director. “Even in the past two weeks, I have noticed such a change in their mindsets. You can really see the turning point when they believe their dreams are reachable.”

EmployIndy’s goal is that all young adults will understand their potential to excel personally and professionally. With an estimated 30,000 young adults in Marion County who need to reconnect to postsecondary education and better careers, the stakes are high. However, EmployIndy believes that progress has to happen at an individual and granular level, and these nine individuals have begun the journey to improving their lives by learning more about themselves, their passions, and their potential for success.

“I want to recognize all of the Pivot employees: They do such a good job making sure everyone has the resources they need, and you can genuinely tell that they care about you. I know that they don’t have to do what they do and we all really appreciate it,” said Daysha.

The second Power Huddle cohort will last one week and begin on December 3rd. Info sessions will take place November 27th – 30th daily at 11:30am at the  Finish Line Boys & Girls Club. Plans are in the works to offer employer tours and invite businesses to come and inform potential participants about their organizational and hiring needs.

For more information about the Pivot Re-Engagement Center or the Power Huddle program, please contact Rodney Francis: rfrancis@nullemployindy.org

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About EmployIndy  
EmployIndy guides the local workforce ecosystem and makes strategic investments to remove barriers to quality employment for underserved and underrepresented residents. As the workforce development board for Marion County, guided by 21 business, civic, education, and non-profit community leaders, EmployIndy invests $20 million in public, private, and philanthropic funds for both youth and adults annually.

About Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis
Since 1893, Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis have served the Indianapolis community. With five facility-based Clubs and five school-based sites, BGCI serves nearly 7,000 youth annually in the areas of career exploration and educational enhancement, citizenship and leadership, the arts, and health and fitness. For additional information, please call (317) 920-4700 or visit www.BGCINDY.org. Follow Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis @BGCINDY and “Like” us on Facebook at Facebook.com/bgcindy.

About Community Alliance of the Far Eastside (CAFE)
CAFE’s mission is to offer direct aid to residents of the Far Eastside who are in desperate need. CAFE offers programming that supports youth and seniors alike, all with a continued focus on improving the quality of life for those who live, work and worship in the Far Eastside community. One of CAFE’s leading programs is their Center for Working Families, which helps transition families from living paycheck to paycheck to investing in their future – not only getting a job, but a career; not only meeting expenses, but saving for their first home.

Pivot, Power Huddle, and EmployIndy staff

Cohort 1 with shoes provided by Finish Line

Cohort 1 finding out about Kanye shoes from Finish Line

Ashayla Spearman

Cameron Kimmons

Daysha Beck

Dezmond Johnson

Jayden Dixon

Jeffery Ezel

Richard Berry

Tamia McNary