As our world is in a constant state of change, EmployIndy has made an active effort to continue to serve Indianapolis residents in a virtual environment. Like many organizations, we experienced the harsh realization that our programs were not set up to be held in a digital setting. When the Center for Disease Control and Prevention announced the precautions in early March, our team immediately began brainstorming how we can support the newly dislocated workers and program participants.
How? We are going digital.
By partnering with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development and Canvas, EmployIndy has been able to send a text message to Indianapolis residents who have registered through Indiana Career Connect since March 1, 2020 – totaling over 50,000 contacts to date. These individuals receive a text with a link to the virtual resources compiled on workoneindy.com/covid-19/ with the follow-up option to register for TORQ (a resource that translates how current skills would transfer into a different job).
Since launching the workoneindy.com/covid-19/ webpage on March 17, there have been over 8000 visitors to that page alone and an average time on that page of two minutes and fifty seconds. In that same timeframe, the WorkOne Indy site as a whole has had nearly 24,000 page-views. To continue supplying resources during COVID-19, our team has built out this robust webpage and enhanced the rest of the WorkOne Indy site to increase ease and provide better usability.
YOUTH AND YOUNG ADULTS
While we are focusing on today, it is important to remember that our students have a tomorrow and that their studies will continue beyond this school year. The Indy Achieves initiative has launched 21st Century Scholar deadline promotion – completely virtually. Aside from targeted social media posts, Marion County residents are able to text “college” or “universidad” to 404-58 to receive either the English or Spanish version of the 21st Century Scholars digital application. This application must be submitted by June 30 following a student’s eighth grade year, providing youth with the opportunity to attend select Indiana universities for up to four years of free college tuition.
EmployIndy also serves students who are focused on the ‘now’ and who had plans for their summer employment – most of which is now up in the air. In order to provide support, the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program hosted a virtual job fair for all Indianapolis JAG students on May 7. There were 24 employers who participated in the fair.
The opportunity youth population is difficult to connect with when we are able to be out in the community – let alone when we are in quarantine. With the temporary closing of our YES Indy Re-Engagement Centers, EmployIndy is pivoting from utilizing basketball as the ‘hook’ for engaging youth and young adults to hosting an “Elite Gaming LIVE” event where YES Indy REC participants will be invited to play the video game and interact with leaders and mentors, which took place on May 20. To further improve this engagement opportunity, YES Indy is creating a private Facebook Group for the Power Huddle graduates to ask questions, share ideas, and chat with their instructor.
While we still have a long way to go when it comes to supporting Indianapolis residents, our team is working diligently to come up with creative ways to provide virtual services and continue engagement. We are excited to continue partnering with organizations throughout the city as we share valuable resources.