Recent News & Blog

Posted on June 20th, 2019 in Local News

A study this past November stated that over 200,000 Marion County residents live in food deserts – areas defined by low food access and low income (SAVI program, IUPUI Polis Center). With this knowledge and a mission to raise up the community from within, Flanner House began constructing Cleo’s Bodega and Cafe on the Near Northwest Side of Indianapolis.

Following the concept of providing paid opportunities for those in their neighborhoods, YouthBuild Indy participants to assisted in the construction of the Bodega, providing young adults with the paid work experience needed to thrive in the workforce.Over the course of five days, five trainees and two carpenters applied 8000 square feet of drywall and finish to Cleo’s Bodega.

The fresh food at Cleo’s Bodega and Cafe is all locally grown and sourced from farmers markets throughout Indianapolis, another way that Flanner House is bridging the low income/low food gap in their community. “At its manageable size and its involvement of local farmers and producers, Cleo’s Bodega may very well serve as a model for solving food scarcity in our city,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett at the grand opening of Cleo’s on June 20.

As part of their efforts to solve the food desert in their community, Flanner House has implemented the F.E.E.D. (Farming, Education, Employment, Distribution) program, funded by EmployIndy’s YES Indy grant. This grant makes it possible for providers to continue growing their programs that mirrors EmployIndy’s youth initiative focus: to impact, engage, and create opportunities for young adults in Indianapolis, specifically the opportunity youth population.

The F.E.E.D. program is designed to help young men and women who are currently not enrolled in school, unemployed, and engaged in the legal system gain the skills they need to be educated in the growing sectors of the local food economy in Indianapolis. In addition, these young people are provided with paid work experiences through Flanner House by planting, harvesting, and going out into the community through farmers markets.

Paid work experiences, bridging education gaps, and engaging in inclusive growth are all crucial to building a successful workforce. Not only do the individuals who go through the YouthBuild Indy and F.E.E.D. programs receive basic on the job training, they are also growing their skillset. YouthBuild Indy participants receive their high school equivalency and/or NCCER certification upon program completion and F.E.E.D. participants gain experience in growing, preparing, and processing food as well as learn first hand about food distribution in sales.

“It is the vision of this neighborhood that has made all of this possible,” said Tedd Grain, Executive Director at LISC Indianapolis. Neighborhoods and the residents herein rely heavily on inclusive growth and development in order to improve their quality of life.

With a mission of furthering the workforce by providing individuals with the skills needed to excel, EmployIndy is deeply engaged in both neighborhood redevelopment and the upskilling of young adults in Indianapolis. “The relationship with EmployIndy is exceptional,” said Turner. “We are constantly in need of relationships on the employer side and EmployIndy has been crucial in helping us broker those relationships.”

Posted on September 10th, 2018 in Local News Tags: , ,
Opportunity Youth input/output graphic of Central Indiana

Click to enlarge

NOTE: This article originally appeared on on August 22nd, 2018.

In Central Indiana alone, an estimated 30,000 young people ages 16-24 are not engaged in the educational system and are not employed. EmployIndy – Marion County’s workforce development board – serves residents by guiding investments to develop the local workforce, and sees these young adults as an opportunity to strengthen the city.

EmployIndy President & CEO Angela Carr Klitzsch offers a clear differentiation between “opportunity youth” and the more common, negative term “at-risk youth.” Essentially, at-risk youth might be in danger of dropping out of school, while opportunity youth are not engaged in education and are also not in the workforce. In short, according to Carr Klitzsch, “They do not engage in the traditional education-employment activities we see as necessary to achieve self-sufficiency.”

More than 65% of jobs in the Indianapolis region require some type of post-secondary certification or degree, Carr Klitzsch adds, and EmployIndy is trying to help young job seekers find a path to obtaining these types of credentials.

“We have a lot of preventative strategies to try to mitigate and stop young people falling out of the education system,” Carr Klitzsch says, “but then we’re also employing a lot of intervention strategies as well to try to re-engage that population to finish their education if that’s necessary, but also pursue additional post-secondary opportunities.”

Rev. Rodney T. Francis, Senior Director of Opportunity Youth Services at EmployIndy, said that the organization’s priority is often to convince youth in this demographic to continue their education.

“It starts with completing high school or an equivalency – and beyond that can be another type of training or program that leads to an industry-verified certificate, associate’s degree, or perhaps even a bachelor’s degree,” says Francis. “We partner with organizations like Ivy Tech and other adult education providers around the city that can facilitate various education and skills attainment that lead to a better job.”

“For us the premise is getting them back in school so they can connect with a sustainable career. Data has shown if they have the education they’re more likely to continue on to a career track.”

Rodney Francis, Sr. Director of Opportunity Youth Initiatives

To ensure coordinated, quality efforts around the city, EmployIndy is currently working to improve the Youth Employment System by providing guidance and financial investment to bolster existing services. Supported organizations provide job training and career services to young people, focusing their efforts on different neighborhoods, strategies, or segments of the population.

Locating and attracting this elusive group to the services that could benefit them is not always easy. EmployIndy is currently researching and piloting ways to engage opportunity youth, and finding success with a concept called the “Pivot Re-engagement Center,” a partnership on the Far Eastside. At the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club on Post Road, open gym basketball and food is offered to young adults as a “hook” to attract potential participants – and has already seen over 400 young men come into its doors in less than three months.

Through steady interaction and trust-building with on-site staff, the goal is to identify those who are both in need and ready to take a step toward a career. After some evaluation, participants are then connected to education, training, and/or other support services that can help lead to employment. Partnerships between EmployIndy, Finish Line Boys & Girls Club, WorkOne Indy, Community Alliance of the Far Eastside, and Walker Career Center make the path possible. Plans are to replicate the concept in all five EmployIndy high-need target areas and with other “hooks” pending successful evaluation of this pilot program.

These efforts stem from the belief that aiding young people helps the City of Indianapolis in its quest to promote inclusive growth. Though national headlines have heralded the city as the next information technology hot spot and an ideal locale for relocating businesses from other states or cities, there’s more to the story.

“If you start peeling back the layers, you almost have a tale of two cities,” Carr Klitzsch said. “While we have a lot of national accolades and things we can be proud of as a city that we can lean into, there is a significant portion of our population who is being left behind in this economic opportunity.”

It takes a deliberate effort to understand how an organization can play an active role in being a part of inclusive growth. EmployIndy’s Business Partnerships team works with employers around the city to help them understand the realities of the labor market and to ensure that there is a return on investment in cultivating local talent.

Carr Klitzsch added, “I think a lot of the data would show we’ve hit a tipping point – for businesses to be successful, employers need to be intentional about really lifting up the population that right now, is not participating. Engaging as a member of EmployIndy’s network is a great first step.”

Posted on June 26th, 2018 in Local News, Press Releases

INDIANAPOLIS – With just five days until the deadline, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indy Achieves are reminding all Indianapolis students starting 9th grade this fall to review their application status for the 21st Century Scholars Program by going to

“With the skills gap in Indianapolis growing dangerously wide, it is vital that we provide every student with the resources necessary to attain a post-secondary education, complete with a high-quality degree or credential,” said Mayor Hogsett. “Marion County is a donor county, and Indiana is a donor state — and Indy Achieves is committed to bringing those tax dollars back to Indianapolis and putting them to work on behalf of taxpayers. Through Indy Achieves we have the opportunity to marshal resources that will reduce barriers and increase access for all Marion County residents, and 21st Century Scholars is a key first step. I urge all eligible students to take full advantage of the 21st Century Scholars Program.”

In order to be eligible for the 21st Century Scholars Program, students must be residents of Indiana in the 7th or 8th grade at a public or private school accredited by the Indiana Department of Education. Additionally, applicants must be a member of a family that meets the income guidelines listed on the 21st Century Scholar Program’s website. “Many families don’t realize that they qualify and should check if their child qualifies for full tuition for college. For example, a household of 4 making $45,510 or less can qualify,” said Matt Impink, Executive Director of Indy Achieves. The application deadline is June 30th.

Last month, Mayor Hogsett launched Indy Achieves as an initiative of EmployIndy and highlighted the need to grow the number of 21st Century Scholars in Marion County. Through Indy Achieves, Indianapolis students will be made aware of the steps necessary to apply for 21st Century Scholars, allowing them to unlock additional scholarship dollars, mentorship opportunities, and more.