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Many young people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or background, struggle to find their path during one of the most transformative periods of their lives: their late teens and early twenties. In a recent report by the Brookings Institute, studies show that this specifically applies to individuals within this population who fall in the low income bracket and with little hope of upward mobility. Many people in this population do not believe they have the opportunities available to pursue a good and promising career or postsecondary education. The mission of EmployIndy’s YES Indy program is to break down these financial and mindset barriers so all people, regardless of their history, are able to excel not only in the workforce, but as individuals.

Many of these young men and women are placed into the stereotype of being a ‘troublemaker’ while in reality they have been proven to be some of the most dedicated workers because they have the most to lose. Through the YES Indy Re-Engagement Center (YES Indy REC; formerly the Pivot Re-Engagement Center), EmployIndy and service providers throughout Indianapolis are making an effort to engage these young people to break down and rebuild the mindsets they may have developed based on what society has told them about themselves.

“If more people join the program, they can take the step to be exactly what they want to be in life. They need to know that you can have goals in life and not everything has to be the end of the road. The most important part of life is to not give up – to keep trying against all odds,” said Jervell Jackson, one of the early participants of the Power Huddle program through YES Indy REC.

The first time Jervell joined the Power Huddle he dropped out because he didn’t believe people would want to waste their time and resources on him. He didn’t think he was worth it. He had given up at the age of 21. After hearing what he believed were rumors of other people receiving support and getting jobs, he made the conscious decision to take a risk and join the Power Huddle. “I took this information I learned and put it to use. Not only have I become a better man, I learned how crucial it is to find what you want your career in life to be and to not settle for anything less.”

Since then, Jervell has become closely involved with YES Indy and encourages his peers to join by sharing his story of how it has impacted his life. He is seen as a leader at the REC and pushes others to take a chance to change their life.

Jervell (second from left) and the young men who attended the Beautillion alongside Senior Director of Opportunity Youth, Rodney Francis (third from right)

Recently, Jervell and five other young men who completed the Power Huddle, attended the 100 Black Men Beautillion. With the help of YES Indy, they were able to not only attend but to receive new attire for the event. The Beautillion is a ‘rite of passage’ for individuals from 100 Black Men who have undergone a mentorship experience and are making a commitment to themselves and their community to be individuals who are positive representatives in society, to raise their family in the same way, and accept responsibility for all their actions.

“It was amazing how quickly they adapted to the environment. You could truly see how they transformed from a from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset which reinforced what they learned in the Power Huddle,” said Katrina Owens of GO Consulting who attended this event with the young men.

In addition to attending powerful experiences such as this, Jervell has been working closely with YES Indy career navigator at CAFE, Jamarro Johnson. “Jervell was tired of living in the ‘right now’ and being told he couldn’t chase his dreams. He is now moving forward and taking serious steps to excel.”

When Jamarro found out that Jervell had the dream of being a CDL driver, he used YES Indy funds to make this possible by buying him a book to study for his commercial drivers license (CDL) test. While working part-time as a basketball referee, Jervell studied and passed his test. He was recently hired by Midwest Landscaping and is actively taking the steps to reach his overall dream of driving and eventually purchasing his own truck.  

Many young people like Jervell are looking for a second chance and YES Indy provides that opportunity. By becoming an employer partner, businesses have the confidence that they are hiring people eager to learn and have the support of community based organizations throughout the city to assist in getting them on the right path to personal and professional success. Employers should connect with EmployIndy’s business solutions team to learn more.


Posted on May 9th, 2019 in Success Story Tags:

Some job seekers assume employers are exclusively seeking individuals with a specific skill set, such as mowing, mulching, or irrigation for a professional landscaping company. However, more skills applicable to any job are defined by character, communication and attitude. Melissa Harris, BrightView Landscape Vice President and General Manager, highlights that their organization “looks for character first. We ask a lot of situational-type questions rather than landscape or horticultural. We want our employees to demonstrate good character and positive decision-making skills in the past.”

DaShawn Mitchell is a BrightView recent hire from Fathers and Families, an Indianapolis community-based organization focusing on helping get men into employment or education. While he was at Fathers and Families, DaShawn took Job Ready Indy courses where he was taught workplace and social skills, self-management, and learning strategies for success.

Job Ready Indy is an EmployIndy employability skills program that was developed in partnership with and vetted by the Indy Chamber and the City of Indianapolis. This program was established to assist young job seekers in becoming valuable employees and to provide employers with high-quality individuals who have completed over thirty hours of employability skills courses.

Alex Vetter, a Regional Market Recruiter at BrightView Landscape, mentions that DaShawn was one of the best candidates that he had interviewed since starting at BrightView. “He wants to do a great job, learn skills, and grow in the organization. His attitude was exactly what we were looking for.” Job Ready Indy prepares participants for the workforce by arming them with the skills they need to excel on the job – meeting immediate employer needs by cultivating applicants who have learned the importance of actions like dressing appropriately, being timely, valuing their position, and demonstrating positive character and genuine respect for themselves and others.

EmployIndy’s mission is to bridge the ever-growing skills gap in Indianapolis. It is no secret that employers are struggling with retention and that many job seekers struggle to meet employer needs because of their lack of soft skills displayed on the job. In addition to job ready participants, EmployIndy also utilizes a Referral Portal where individuals who have received services from community organizations are vetted to ensure they have the employability skills needed to succeed in a workplace setting.

“Having a high school diploma is always a plus,” says Alex. “But someone with a great attitude and looking to grow within the organization can be trained on the job and gain skills that can be used to benefit us in the future.”

Job Ready Indy works for both the supply and demand side of the workforce by preparing job seekers for work while also providing employers with eager candidates who have the skills to succeed – ultimately building and strengthening the workforce in Indianapolis and encouraging inclusive economic growth in the city.

Businesses interested in becoming an “employer champion” for Job Ready Indy should visit jobreadyindy.org.