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Posted on August 16th, 2018 in Organizational Updates, Success Story Tags: ,

WorkOne Indy is more than two brick and mortar locations on either side of town. It is made up of the combined efforts of staff, partnerships, referrals, employer partners, and more. As EmployIndy has sought to find more ways for career services to be available in strategic locations that most need support, partnership with Ivy Tech has proven to be successful in connecting job seekers to local employers.

“We have career coaches who do great work with finding jobs and resume development,” says Bradley Pearson, Director of the Early Resource Connections Center (ERCC) at Ivy Tech. “WorkOne has been helpful with more detailed services like understanding transferable skills, beginning a job search from scratch, and providing connections to other WorkOne resources.”

WorkOne Indy career navigator Danielle Sims shares space with finance coaches and others who provide support services at the main Ivy Tech Fall Creek Parkway campus at the ERCC. She compares it to the type of holistic support and structure that one would find at a Center for Working Families rather than what is typically found within a traditional college career services office because “if someone needs a job, they need to have those basic needs met first.”

photo of Danielle Sims

Danielle Sims, WorkOne Indy Career Navigator

Though she says her most common type of support is helping people maneuver through the job search process, Sims also is quick to say that she never sees the same situation twice. Generally, though, there is a pretty even split between people who are seeking help with a career upon matriculation versus those needing a job “right now” while enrolled school. Her services often include resume and application help, sharing opportunities like hiring events and job fairs, and connecting clients to community resources.

Ivy Tech students are not the only people who make use of this resource. With the main campus positioned squarely in the 46208 zip code, this access point also serves as a location that people in the nearby neighborhoods of this target impact area can utilize.

“It is a different demographic than those at the main WorkOne offices – we are definitely reaching people who we otherwise might not be able to support.”

Danielle Sims, WorkOne Career Navigator

With the school year about to start, WorkOne Indy is ramping up on-site hours to 20 per week to be well-positioned for the activity that comes with a new fall semester.

Ivy Tech has done some outreach to ensure that students know WorkOne Indy is offering an on-site resource, and Pearson is quick to say that he believes WorkOne Indy’s presence has enhanced the ERCC’s growth in intake numbers, “becoming more a part of the vernacular for students, faculty, and staff.” Danielle Sims has personally taken that effort a step further.

“Now that I have been co-located here for a while, I have had an opportunity to learn how things work at Ivy Tech and network with others on campus,” she says. One example of this is working with academic advisors to help connect students to Indiana Career Explorer to help students more clearly understand how their strengths and interests can lead to a meaningful career.

Danielle Sims is excited to see WorkOne Indy grow in this area, and she believes this model could work with other locations around Indy. “As more people understand why I am here, I expect to see more referrals come my way.”

During the school year, WorkOne Indy can be accessed on the fourth floor of theIvy Tech North Meridian Center in room 414 from 8:00am – 4:30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and from 10:00am – 2:00pm on Thursdays.


Posted on August 2nd, 2018 in Organizational Updates, Success Story Tags:

After more than three decades of operation, the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program has proven to be one of the most successful state-level strategies for tackling high school dropout rates, low academic performance, youth unemployment, and other barriers for at-risk youth. Program participants actively engage in career exploration, leadership, and goal setting as they plan for their future and transition into post-secondary education, military service, and/or employment. In Marion County, EmployIndy administers JAG for IPS and other local high schools.

The JAG 5 of 5 Award is the “gold standard” for JAG programs throughout the nation. To earn it, the local program must have at least a 90% graduation rate; 80% positive outcome rate; 60% job placement rate; 60% full-time job rate; and an 80% full-time placement rate. In Marion County, 95% of JAG students graduated from high school for the 2017-2018 school year.

In July, both the state and Marion County were given the JAG 5 of 5 Award for the fourth consecutive year. Additionally, six JAG Specialists received the award, two of which were also recognized on a national level as Outstanding Specialists. Although these awards are coveted, it is not the plaque that drives the specialists to success – it is the lives they impact each and every day.

JAG Specialists gather with award at the national JAG conference

Nearly all the students who enter the JAG program have barriers to overcome and need an extra push to establish a vision for a successful future. In Marion County, only 80% of public school students graduate high school to move onto further education or join the workforce. This dream pushed DaWit, a senior at George Washington High School, to join JAG because of his desire to gain necessary and valuable skills for his future, as well as have the opportunity for career exploration.

DaWit’s JAG Specialist, Charmaine Wardell, saw his motivation and helped him chase his dreams. “She’s the good type of nosy,” DaWit says of Charmaine. “She picks up on what you want to do and why – then she helps you get there.” Charmaine learned that he always hoped to be a public servant, which is when Captain Kevin Givens of the Indianapolis Fire Department entered the picture. When Captain Givens came to speak to the JAG participants this spring, Charmaine encouraged DaWit to network with him and ask about an opportunity to intern at his fire station.

DaWit (back row, center) with crew at Station 31

This connection led to DaWit’s seven-month internship at Station 31. His internship confirmed that becoming a firefighter was what he wants to do with his future. “These people are family,” he said. “They talk openly with one another and are always there for each other and that’s what I want.” DaWit learned that there is some required education to be a successful firefighter, starting with becoming a paramedic and earning his Fire Science degree. In the fall of 2018, he will be taking these steps by attending Indiana State University, making him the first person in his family to attend college.  DaWit is also interested in studying Unmanned Systems and Aeronautical Engineering. DaWit’s dream is to work at the Indianapolis Fire Department while also starting his own business of fixing planes and test flying them.

To guide more young adults like DaWit, JAG will be adding four programs for the 2018-2019 school year, for a total of 18 programs in 14 schools throughout the Indianapolis area. “We’ve had a lot of excitement over the JAG program in the past few years,” says Erika Cheney, EmployIndy’s Director of In-School Youth. “Whenever we are in the media, we always have individuals reaching out to us asking more about the program and how we can expand into their schools.” In the 2018-2019 school year, JAG will be expanding into Warren Central High School, Southport High School, Shortridge High School, and Crispus Attucks High School. JAG is instrumental in providing  schools the extra support needed to help improve student’s academic and future career success.

Aside from growing JAG in Marion County, EmployIndy has been partnering with IPS to encourage work-readiness preparation and career exploration. In June of 2017, EmployIndy and IPS were awarded a grant from EWIN (Education Workforce Innovation Network) and CELL/UIndy (Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning at the University of Indianapolis). With these funds, EmployIndy and IPS studied other work-based learning continuums taking place throughout the United States. Representatives from each organization researched and visited Academies of Nashville, P-TECH in New York, and Denver Public Schools CareerConnect.

The knowledge gained from these visits led to the establishment of the Health Sciences Academy launched at Crispus Attucks for the 2017-2018 school year. EmployIndy had staff members on various committees focused on employer engagement, work-readiness, and college and career prep. Throughout the year, St. Vincent, Senior1Care, and Trilogy Health Services were the top health industry employers involved. These employers, along with EmployIndy staff, participated in mock interviews during the student’s College and Career Prep class.

To further improve career readiness and exploration, EmployIndy hosted Opportunity Days at each of the WorkOne Indy locations in February of 2018. The Opportunity Days consisted of 160 students attending employability skills and financial literacy workshops. These student field trips were found to be so successful and informational that they will continue to take place throughout the 2018-2019 school year.

Partnering with organizations throughout Marion County, EmployIndy is working to grow the future of the workforce by providing various funding strategies, techniques, and implementing a strategic plan focused on supplying young adults with opportunities for work-readiness and preparation for a future of sustainable employment in good and promising jobs.


Posted on June 26th, 2018 in Events, Success Story

After a year of hard work and preparation for life after high school, seniors who are enrolled in the Jobs for America’s Graduates program were able to gather for a senior send-off celebration. During an afternoon at Ivy Tech, students and their JAG specialists from each school enjoyed  of conversation, pizza, and a scavenger hunt.

The students also were able to participate in a series of raffle drawings to win prizes for their next journey, including dormitory essentials like shower caddies and towels, reading lamps and hangers, polaroid cameras, and even a mini-fridge.

The highlight of the event was the announcement of the recipient of the Jessica Brown Memorial Scholarship. Through generous contributions since our dear colleague’s passing, we have been able to endow a scholarship in her name, awarding $1000 annually to a JAG senior who exemplifies Jessica’s spirit through dedication, hard work, a passion for community service, a genuine interest in the lives of their peers, and random acts of kindness. (Donations are still being accepted to continue to build the scholarship for future years.)

This year’s winner is Tyrah Matherly of Decatur Central High School. “Tyrah sought out JAG on her own, coming to me personally asking to be part of the class,” says her JAG Specialist Molly Hansen, who nominated Tyrah. “I had students who were friends with Tyrah who were struggling. Tyrah helped get them to school to personally ensure that they graduate – but she never seeks to be boastful or get acknowledgement for her kindness ‘behind the scenes’… She just says she’s doing her part.” Tyrah has been enrolled in advanced classes this year to get a head start at IUPUI where she plans to dental hygeine this fall.

As part of JAG, graduates are supported for one additional year after high school. This follow-up year ensures that students continue to receive the counseling, skills development, and career services needed to be positioned for a lifetime of career prosperity. Check out some more photos from the event below, and congratulations to all of our JAG graduates!