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Posted on November 24th, 2021 in Local News, Success Story

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) holds the Young Adult Services (YAS) Summit annually to facilitate collaboration amongst youth service practitioners throughout the state. From workforce development to career engagement to educational accessibility, the YAS Summit presents an integral opportunity for service providers to align on best practices, develop ongoing strategies, and recognize successes each year. 

At this year’s YAS Summit, the Indiana DWD recognized Julie Barrett, Workforce Development Program Manager at the Martindale-Brightwood Community Development Corporation (MBCDC), as the Innovator of the Year for creative programming in support of Young Adult Services. 

Barrett was selected amongst the entirety of YES Indy’s Career Navigators to receive this award, remaining as one of the top Career Navigators in Indiana who serve the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s (WIOA) youth population. Her exemplary leadership has enhanced the scope of available services offered to Marion County’s young people, and her unwavering commitment to serving Hoosier youth continues to change countless lives across our community. 

“Julie’s passion, encouragement, and guidance help her build the trusting relationships that are important to improve the trajectory of young people’s lives. She coaches, she models, she cares; she provides tough love, and she gets results,” says Dionne Smith, Vice President, Neighborhood at EmployIndy. “Julie has helped numerous Opportunity Youth reach their own definitions of success, all because she believes in them and helps them believe in themselves.”

Martindale-Brightwood CDC has been very successful as the employer of record for the Disaster Recovery Grant. In this capacity, Julie Barrett and her team have placed nine WIOA Youth in promising jobs, servicing a community severely impacted by COVID-19. The Martindale-Brightwood CDC team is the only mobile WIOA program provider in Central Indiana. With an innovative delivery system, MBCDC is able to provide YES Indy services that are tailored to each individual they serve.

As a mobile provider, MBCDC is able to uniquely impact Opportunity Youth– people ages 16-24 who have become disconnected from school and/or work– with the support they need wherever their location might be. As a result, Barrett and her team receive all of the referrals from the DWD’s youth Department of Correction (DOC), all of Outreach Indiana referrals for young people experiencing homelessness, and all of the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) referrals for youth who do not graduate from High School. Barrett and her team work with Youth Build Indy to enroll those participants in WIOA programming as well. 

“Julie is an all-star service provider and an invaluable asset to Marion County’s Opportunity Youth as well as our community as a whole,” says Charlie Harris, Director, Opportunity Youth at EmployIndy. 

EmployIndy thanks Julie Barrett for her unwavering passion and dedication in serving Marion County’s young people. Her award is undoubtedly well-deserved. Congratulations on being honored as the YAS Innovator of the Year!


Posted on November 12th, 2021 in Events, Speaking Engagements, Success Story, Uncategorized

The hospitality industry continues to struggle from the hard-hitting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite businesses reopening, many in the service industries are facing widespread labor shortages that largely affect the ability of employers to return to business as normal. A recent report found that the leisure and service industry continues to lack almost 2.2 million jobs, nearly ⅓ of the total missing occupations in the United States. 

Indianapolis’ hospitality industry is facing similar repercussions as businesses fight to recover from the pandemic. Many local hospitality employers began expressing their adverse experiences in navigating recovery to EmployIndy’s Business Partnerships team this past Winter. 

The Business Partnerships team fosters collaborative connections with Marion County employers to better understand the barriers they are facing. Simultaneously, the team helps businesses establish organizational best practices to attract, train, and maintain qualified employees. EmployIndy’s business partners receive wrap-around support in establishing comprehensive career pathways that leverage diverse talent from the Indianapolis community, including young adults

“The Business Partnerships team is always looking for new opportunities to bring together our employer and school partners and create mutually beneficial connections that help establish talent pipelines between community businesses and local students,” says Tracy Murphy, EmployIndy’s Associate Director of Business Partnerships. 

In order to better support businesses amid the recovery from COVID-19 and the ensuing labor shortage, collaboration between employers in the hospitality industry and those entering the workforce was necessitated. To further these efforts, the Business Partnerships team collaborated with Matt Simpson, the Associate Director of Talent Bound, EmployIndy’s work-based learning initiative that connects employers to educators and students through a variety of career exposure, engagement, and experiential activities

On Thursday, September 2nd, Murphy and Simpson facilitated a roundtable discussion in coordination with Visit Indy and Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (INRLA), The discussion included seven representatives from local hospitality businesses and a variety of EmployIndy’s K-12 and education partners, listed below.

During the hour-long, virtual roundtable, hospitality employers from across Marion County shared their experiences with economic recovery as well as their ideas on possible solutions to local labor shortages, including the establishment of talent pipelines in Indianapolis high schools. 

“This discussion was a great opportunity for the hospitality industry to share its hiring needs and for our school partners to gain insight on the available career pathways in Marion County,” says Simpson.

The agenda contained topics such as wage compensation, work hours, available positions, and transportation barriers. Education providers then shared upcoming events as well as specific contact information with the hospitality employers to promote continuing communication. Both parties curated sustainable working relationships, helping students to find employment and hospitality employers to attract and maintain quality workers. 

“As the high school representative for Talent Bound, our goal is to expose young people to as many different career pathways as possible throughout their K-12 experiences, helping ensure that they can make an informed career decision when the time comes,”  says Simpson. “The roundtable event connected schools interested in establishing partnerships with local employers who are willing to share industry opportunities with students.”

This discussion resulted in numerous opportunities for hospitality representatives to participate in school events such as guest speaking, career days, and organizational tours. Student internship opportunities with local hospitality employers have been introduced as well, launching a solid foundation for the development of future talent pipelines in Marion County. EmployIndy will continue to facilitate the connection and communication between hospitality employers and local schools, offering guidance on how to best engage high schoolers and present career opportunities within the hospitality industry. 

Are you an employer interested in connecting with EmployIndy’s Business Partnerships team? Email Tracy Murphy at to get started! 

Hospitality Representatives in Attendance:

Education Providers and K-12 Partners in Attendance:


Posted on October 17th, 2021 in Events, Success Story

EmployIndy held an outing for the inaugural cohort of the Modern Apprenticeship program at Victory Field on Thursday, September 30th. Youth Apprenticeship Managers and other EmployIndy staff joined the Youth Apprentices for an Indianapolis Indians game to celebrate the progress of and community within the pilot cohort. 

The entire MAP team enjoyed food and drinks before watching the game, giving the Youth Apprentices the opportunity to further connect and share their experiences. Their apprenticeships began at the start of the school year after completing the Summer MAP Bootcamp, where apprentices developed their employability skills and networked with the inaugural cohort.

Ja’Kyra Cox, a junior at George Washington High School, was amongst the Youth Apprentices who attended the game. She is currently an apprentice at Ivy Tech Community College and has thoroughly enjoyed her experience this far, saying her apprenticeship is what she looked forward to the most when starting her day.

Cox also noted how much of a learning experience the Modern Apprenticeship program is. It has been a “challenge” for her to balance both work and school, but the community and opportunities within her apprenticeship have been the best part.

Ramiro Delgado, a junior at Arsenal Technical High School, is apprenticing with Indianapolis Public Schools’ (IPS) building maintenance team. He also attended the game and spoke of his experience as a Youth Apprentice. Delgado noted that the transition from a regular high school student to a MAP participant was difficult at first, but now that he is settled in his position, he really enjoys “fixing technical problems around the local schools.”

Clarissa Hunt of Pike High School is a Youth Apprentice at Pepper Construction and has found her MAP experience to be very enriching thus far. She said, “Not only do I love this program, but I am learning skills and tools I can actually use in a job.” Kinaya Hines, a junior from North Central High School and a Youth Apprentice at Roche Diagnostics, echoed Hunt’s words, also noting that her apprenticeship has really taught her the importance of responsibility and communication. 

Modern Apprenticeship is an integral program of Talent Bound, EmployIndy’s work-based learning initiative that supports young people throughout Marion County (both in school and out) as they investigate different career pathways and are exposed to local employers in the workforce. Dr. Mechelle Polter, Director of Talent Bound, joined the Youth Apprentices at the Indians Game. 

“The best part of this outing was sitting at the table chatting with the apprentices about their experiences,” said Polter. “Talking to them in a casual setting really brought life to the program we have spent so much time to build.”

The Youth Apprentices who joined the MAP team for the Indianapolis Indians game collectively recommended the Modern Apprenticeship program. Melanie Garcia, an apprentice with the K-12 and Postsecondary team at EmployIndy where she directly works with K-12 programs, noted that Modern Apprenticeship, “. . is an opportunity that upcoming high school juniors do not want to miss!”

The Modern Apprenticeship program combines work-based learning and the traditional classroom curriculum to fortify the skills and experiences young people need to succeed in the modern world of work.

“The Apprentices are so excited and motivated by what they are doing. One apprentice said how much he enjoyed learning not just behind a desk,” said Polter.