Recent News & Blog

Power Huddle graduates thirty-eight young people who move onto education, employment, and job training

INDIANAPOLIS – 26 November 2019 – Today at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club, 38 young people will be recognized for completing the YES Indy Power Huddle program, a two-week intensive training where individuals learn how they can change their future trajectory as well as a variety of employability skills that will help them take those next steps. This is the largest cohort to have completed the program, co-located at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis and at Eastern Star Church, both on the Far Eastside of Indianapolis.

The Far Eastside is one of the five target areas as identified by EmployIndy and the City of Indianapolis as having the highest rates of crime and poverty throughout Indianapolis. In Central Indiana alone there are over 30,000 Opportunity Youth, young adults, ages 16 – 24, who have disengaged from secondary education or graduated but disconnected from the workforce. With the gap in middle skills jobs that currently exist in our workforce ecosystem as identified by DWD, these youth and young adults present an opportunity for our community wellbeing and their personal growth, health and success. To re-engage this audience, EmployIndy has focused on creating a positive trajectory for youth in Marion County, thus launching YES Indy REC in 2018.

YES Indy REC was piloted at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club as a safe space for young people to interact, play basketball, and meet adults who are willing to mentor them. While this is the forward-facing piece of the YES Indy REC, it goes far beyond that as mentors encourage individuals to partake in the Power Huddle to move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

“We are proud to play a role in changing the lives of young people throughout Marion County,” said Marty Posch, President of the Finish Line Youth Foundation, an organization that has been a strong advocate and supporter of the Power Huddle and YES Indy REC since program inception. “Located just down the street, we have the opportunity to make a difference in our community thus impacting our future workforce and Indianapolis as a whole.”

Twenty-two of the 38 individuals recognized today completed the Power Huddle through the YES Indy CommunityCorps program administered through Groundwork Indy. These young people were enrolled in a nine-week paid work experience during which they also received eighteen hours of socio-emotional trauma informed wellness training and participated in mindset training (Power Huddle).

These activities helped the Opportunity Youth to develop their employability skills by working on community projects to improve community food access, health, aesthetics, safety and facility maintenance supports, while also receiving adult mentoring, career navigation, life coaching, job readiness training, adult education services, alongside trauma informed social and emotional violence prevention counseling.

“These young people are the ones who persisted,” said Rev. Rodney Francis, Senior Director of Opportunity Youth at EmployIndy. “They made the decision to make a change in their life and took the steps to get there. The most difficult piece of engaging Opportunity Youth isn’t just getting them in the door. In the last year we have reached 1508 young people through the YES Indy REC, 147 have signed up for the Power Huddle, and, including this group, only 97 have completed the program. They have to decide for themselves that they want to change.”

After completing the program, the young adults will be enrolled in YES Indy where they are connected to a career navigator who will offer support and guidance as they enroll in education and training or transition into the workforce. Once they are part of YES Indy, other resources are available, such as transportation, financial guidance, temporary housing, re-entry services, counseling, and more.

“This course has helped me view myself as a strong queen,” said Taleiah Gamble, a graduate of Power Huddle cohort nine. “Before I started the Power Huddle, I felt drained and useless until Mr. S, our instructor, explained to me that I should always have a growing mindset and not a fixed mindset. A growing mindset is constantly grasping knowledge and a fixed mindset is basically a locked mindset. I learned that I do not need to settle for less and now I’m preparing to become a Certified Medical Assistant and starting class on January 9th.”

The next Power Huddle cohort will be ten weekdays from December 9 – 19, 10am – noon at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club. Registration is currently taking place so please direct any interested young people to the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club, Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 2:00pm. To learn more about YES Indy REC and YES Indy programming and resources, visit yesindy317.org.


Posted on October 3rd, 2019 in Events Tags: ,

The fourth annual JAG Leadership Development Conference took place on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at Jameson Camp. Brandon Warren, Founder & CEO of We LIVE, opened the day by explaining the importance of supporting one another and encouraging students to work together to make a difference.

After hearing from Brandon, the students split up into groups and went outside for a couple hours of team-building activities. One student from George Washington High School spoke about her favorite activity from the day, which was called Raging River. Students would set up blocks to in order to traverse an area, problem-solving together to ensure their blocks don’t “wash down the river.”

“There was a lack of communication at first because we didn’t really know each other, but then we worked together to figure it out.”
-JAG Student

Team-building exercises like these sometimes get a negative reputation, but business leaders note that in practice they are worthwhile investments that develop trust, learn conflict resolution strategies, build communication skills, and collaborate toward a common goal. These sound a lot like employability skills, don’t they?

After lunch, IndianaFIRST set up their frisbee-throwing robot for students to try out. One of the JAG specialists made sure to connect with IndianaFIRST after watching the demonstration. “It would be cool to have you guys come out and talk to our JAG classes as well as our school’s engineering and programming classes,” she said.

The day concluded with a drum circle session led by Arts with a Purpose and a presentation about Innovate WithIN from Don Wettrick at STARTedUP Foundation. In January, Innovate WithIN’s call for proposals opens for student entrepreneurs looking to build or expand a business.


Posted on September 19th, 2019 in Events, Organizational Updates, Press Releases

IUPUI and Ivy Tech students among those to receive funds to remove barriers to completing postsecondary education

19 SEPTEMBER 2019 – INDIANAPOLIS – One in three students who enroll in postsecondary education never receives a credential. Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indy Achieves are committed to changing that by investing nearly $500,000 in completion grants for the Fall 2019 semester. These grants will help enable successful students to complete their postsecondary degree or credential at Ivy Tech Indianapolis and IUPUI. The effort is designed to help cover any financial deficits affecting students’ ability to pay tuition and other academic costs.

“Too many Indianapolis college students are not completing their degree – not because they aren’t succeeding academically, but because of financial need,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Our partnership with Indy Achieves, Ivy Tech and IUPUI will enable Marion County residents to complete the degrees that employers are demanding.”

Indy Achieves will now help students stay enrolled or re-enroll at Ivy Tech Indianapolis and IUPUI in order to complete their degree. Based off a successful model from Georgia State University in Atlanta, the Indy Achieves Completion Grants will prioritize students closest to graduation and those in high-demand degree fields. All recipients are required to complete a financial literacy module and an academic plan so there is a definitive date on the calendar for when they intend to graduate.

“Indy Achieves Completion Grants recognize the reality that too often for our students, life circumstances get in the way of their path to graduation,” said Dr. Kathleen Lee, chancellor of Ivy Tech Central Indiana. “We are proud that so many of our students stepped up to take advantage of the opportunity at a fresh start.”

Indy Achieves staff worked with financial aid offices at both schools to pilot 53 grants in Spring 2019, which led to comparatively higher graduation and retention for recipients. Based on its initial success, both institutions decided to award more completion grants for the 2019-2020 school year. More than 200 students across both campuses will now receive funding to help them complete college.

“I’ve been working so hard to complete my degree,” said Ivy Tech completion grant recipient Marina Arila. “After years of balancing work, family, and my education, this completion grant will finally give me the chance to finish my last five classes and graduate in December.”