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Initiative successfully employed more than 6000 young adults in its first three years and continues furthering employer partnerships in 2019

INDIANAPOLIS – January 30, 2019 – Today at the Indianapolis Zoo, Mayor Joe Hogsett and EmployIndy announced this year’s kick off of Project Indy, the administration’s youth jobs program. Since its initial launch in 2016 by Mayor Hogsett, EmployIndy, Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee, and Marion County Commission on Youth, Project Indy has positively impacted thousands of young adults in Marion County by engaging them in the workforce. In 2019, Project Indy will continue to make a difference in the lives of Indianapolis residents by providing work experiences and career exploration opportunities for young adults.

Last year, Mayor Hogsett encouraged local employers to take an active role in offering opportunities to young workers. After reaching annual goals of 1000 jobs obtained in 2016 and 2000 jobs obtained in 2017, a goal of 3000 jobs was exceeded in 2018. The soft skills and work experience learned from these jobs will provide the local economy with a better-prepared workforce of the future.

“Project Indy has grown its reach every year since its inception in 2016 – providing employment opportunities and valuable soft skills for thousands of young residents in Marion County each year,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett.  “In 2019, we hope to build upon that momentum, engaging even more young adults through our Summer Jobs Sundays, youth job fairs and Job Ready Indy program.  The valuable skills these future adults learn today will mean a more educated, well-trained and successful workforce for the 21st century.”

Project Indy is available on the mobile app Project Indy Jobs, created by local tech company WorkHere, to help geographically connect users to job opportunities near their location. The Indianapolis Zoo is one of nearly 140 employers who are using Project Indy to make a difference in the life of a young adult. Ashley Lawson, a Jobs for America’s Graduates student from Decatur Central High School, worked at the Indianapolis Zoo during the summer of 2018. While at the Zoo, Ashley improved her communication skills as she interacted daily with guests and has since decided that she wants to major in Education and Zoology when she attends Ball State this fall.

“Ashley is the perfect example of how a summer job can help shape a young adult’s future,” said Judy Palermo, senior manager of public relations at the Indianapolis Zoo. “By engaging with local talent, businesses and attractions like the Zoo are able to positively impact the workforce in Indianapolis and make it possible for young adults to envision the next step in their career.”

Guiding young adults as they take the first step in their career path by gaining valuable work experience is the backbone of Project Indy. It is well-known that oftentimes individuals need to develop soft skills prior to employment, such as learning the importance of professionalism, communication skills, reliability, timeliness, work ethic, and appropriate mindsets at work.

In order to improve those skills, Mayor Hogsett worked with EmployIndy and the Indy Chamber to launch Job Ready Indy in 2018. Job Ready Indy is an employability skills program focused on providing the soft skills needed to succeed in the workplace. If an individual has completed one of the courses, a badge of completion will appear on their Project Indy profile – notifying an interested employer that they are deemed by EmployIndy and the Indy Chamber as someone who demonstrates “job ready” skills important in the workplace.

However, young adults cannot take the first steps to improve their career or community without the help of local employers.

“Young people need to have the support of our business partners to best identify their interests and talents to fill the skills gaps in our target industries,” said Angela Carr Klitzsch, President & CEO of EmployIndy. “By hiring young adults, employers have the opportunity to be a catalyst for change in our community.”

One of the largest and often overlooked benefits to businesses is that connecting with young adults directly influences the choices they make when continuing their education or career path. Employment through Project Indy is one of many ways that employers can engage with young adults. Through Job Ready Indy and other EmployIndy programs, employers can host site tours, speak about their industry in a classroom or offer job shadowing.

Project Indy is uniquely positioned to connect both the supply and demand of jobs for young adults as employers look to prepare for the summer and beyond.

Employers and job seekers age 16-24 can learn more and sign up at

Posted on January 9th, 2019 in Press Releases

Program aims to increase postsecondary enrollment and shrink skills gap

January 9, 2019 – Today, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indy Achieves announced a new program aimed at recruiting mentors to engage with, support, and inspire Marion County students in order to ensure high school graduation and a successful transition into college. The Indy Achieves Mentor Program will also connect mentors with adults who have graduated from high school and are working to attain a postsecondary degree or certification. As part of the announcement, Morales Group pledged to sign on as a premier volunteer partner, initially enrolling 10 employees to mentor 50 students.

“Postsecondary education can be daunting for any student,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “That’s why Indy Achieves is seeking to provide millions of dollars in scholarships and grants to low-income students, helping to lower barriers and increase the number of Marion County residents qualified for the jobs of the 21st century. I’m calling on community leaders to become a mentor today and support the next generation as they seek a brighter future for themselves and their family.”

From left: Seth Morales, Jackie Morales, Angie Carr Klitzsch, Mayor Joe Hogsett, Tom Morales, Commissioner Teresa Lubbers, Matt Impink

Indy Achieves is a comprehensive program established by Mayor Hogsett to ensure every Indianapolis resident has a pathway to a postsecondary credential or degree. The mentoring initiative will connect 500 high school seniors with 100 civic and business leaders from around the city. Over the next year, Indy Achieves, which is housed at EmployIndy, will work to provide millions of dollars in scholarships and grants to low-income students in order to close the skills gap. This work is in conjunction with EmployIndy’s ongoing efforts to train Indianapolis residents and place them in high-wage, high-demand jobs in Marion County. Indianapolis needs an additional 215,000 individuals with job-ready credentials in order to close the skills gap by 2027.

“At a time when we’re telling Hoosiers that education beyond high school is more important than ever, we must ensure that they are prepared and can afford it,” said Indiana’s Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers. “Indy Achieves addresses both of these issues and complements the work we do at the Commission.”

“Research tells us that one of the greatest predictors of postsecondary success is the ability of a student to name a mentor in his or her life. Unfortunately, one in three students grow up without a mentor of any kind,” said Matt Impink, executive director of Indy Achieves. “At Indy Achieves, we will equip dedicated volunteer leaders in our community with not only the tools and resources they need to ensure students remain on task and meet deadlines, but also the platform to cheer students on towards success.”

Indy Achieves cites “summer melt” as one of the reasons this program is needed. Research finds that one in five college-bound high school graduates who have been accepted to and intend to enroll in college fail to show up on the first day of class due to unforeseen challenges they encounter during the summer months. This jumps to two in five students in underserved areas. For this reason, the mentor program begins during a senior student’s spring semester and runs through his or her first semester of college, helping them navigate not only the processes needed to enroll in college, but helping them get settled and get off to a solid start.

The time commitment for mentors is low, requiring only one hour per month for 10 months to change the lives of youth and adults in Marion County. Mentors assist students in their move to higher education at either Ivy Tech Community College or IUPUI through both scripted and customized text-message and email-based communication from Indy Achieves. Examples of messages include reminders about FAFSA deadlines, answering questions students and their families may have regarding postsecondary education and providing general encouragement. Students receive the messages on their cell phones and respond like a normal text-message conversation, while mentors use an online portal for all communication.

Local businesses like Morales Group, an Indianapolis-based staffing agency that has placed more than 50,000 Hoosiers in positions throughout the Midwest, are eager to get their employees involved.

“I was blessed to have a few mentors in high school that saw something in me that I didn’t quite know was there yet, and they guided me to make the leap to college because my parents didn’t come from a higher education background,” said Tom Morales, co-founder and CEO of Morales Group. “The small pushes of these mentors transformed my life trajectory, and now I want to ensure that we use Morales Group as a platform to pay it forward to other young people. We were thrilled to be the first business to sign on with the Indy Achieves program. This type of mentoring is critical for the students to make it through the summer into their first day of classes,” said Morales.

Business and civic leaders interested in volunteering to be a mentor can sign up on the Indy Achieves website at Students sign up for the program through their guidance counselors or by filling out basic information on the Indy Achieves website. All mentors will go through a background check.

The mentor program is one of several employer opportunities through EmployIndy, which can also help businesses engage with young adults, provide soft skills training to workers, and source talent in Marion County.

In May, Mayor Hogsett announced the Indy Achieves program as a way to improve access to postsecondary educational opportunities for all residents and to raise Indianapolis’ college attainment number to 65% by the year 2027. Indy Achieves is working to increase on-time FAFSA completion and 21st Century Scholar enrollment, administering the Indy Promise Scholarship, and providing wraparound services to Marion County residents pursing a postsecondary degree.

For more information about Indy Achieves or the mentor program, visit