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 November 19th, 2019 in Press Releases Tags: , , ,

Indy Achieves mentorship program application opens to mentors for the 2020 cohort of Ivy Tech and IUPUI students

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – 19 November 2019 – As of today, community leaders, educators, and business partners are welcome to apply to become an Indy Achieves mentor for the 2020 cohort of incoming Ivy Tech and IUPUI students. As an integral initiative overseen by EmployIndy, Mayor Hogsett’s Indy Achieves provides resources that help fight the growing rate of poverty in Indianapolis. Offering this support to students as they transition into postsecondary education establishes a pathway to success for those who may have not persisted.

“We are committed to helping students achieve their educational goals by providing them with the guidance and mentorship needed to reach those next steps,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “With this vital support, we are all working together to remove barriers to postsecondary education for Marion County residents and ultimately improving the future for all of Indianapolis.”

When looking further down the road, the hope is that the mentorship program will have a positive impact on the completion rates as students receive the support necessary to persist through their degree or certification. This program uses a two-way text message system that focuses on engaging, supporting, and informing Marion County students as they pursue their path to enrolling in a postsecondary degree or certification. Conversation includes information about filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), registering for the first day of classes, navigating campus resources, connecting with academic advisors, and more.

“Last year, over 400 students went through the mentorship program alongside 100 dedicated mentors,” said Yecenia Tostado, Associate Director of Indy Achieves. “We are working to grow the number of Marion County residents who register as mentees with hopes to have an even greater influence on individuals successfully making the transition into postsecondary education.”

One of the most common obstacles that students face is “summer melt” – a phenomenon that occurs during the time between applying for school and showing up the following semester. Research finds that one in five college-bound high school graduates who have been accepted to and intend to enroll in college fail to show up on the first day of class due to unforeseen challenges they encounter during the summer months. This jumps to two in five students in underserved areas.

If you would like to apply to be an Indy Achieves mentor to help close the gap, please fill out the form on indyachieves.org/mentor. If mentorship isn’t the best way for you or your organization to engage with students, EmployIndy’s Talent Bound program houses many other opportunities such as hosting site tours, job shadows, internships, and more. To get involved in any of these ways, please visit talentbound.org.


Staff invests time and in partnerships to enroll over 9 percent of cohort 2023 Marion County scholars

October 16, 2019 – INDIANAPOLIS – In its first year as a program, Indy Achieves enrolled over 9 percent of the total Marion County students enrolled in 21st Century Scholars. With a total enrollment of over 4100 Marion County 8th grade students following the 2018-2019 school year, this resulted in a five percentage point county-wide increase in the rate of eligible students enrolling in the program from the previous 8th grade cohort.It would not have been possible to reach this number without the assistance and support of partners and local educators, parents, and counselors.

“Our workforce needs an additional 215,000 individuals with a postsecondary degree or credential in order to meet employer demand,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Initiatives like Indy Achieves and programs like 21st Century Scholars break down financial barriers for students who may not have had the opportunity to go to college – providing them the skills they need to secure good paying jobs that are currently going unfilled in Marion County.”

21st Century Scholars is the state’s early college promise program and is administered by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Students must register in 7th or 8th grade to be eligible to receive up to four years of paid tuition to a participating Indiana college or university as they pursue their postsecondary career. To remain eligible for 21st Century Scholars, students must complete a variety of Scholar Success Program requirements and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the April 15 deadline.

The Indy Achieves staff has impacted the enrollment in Marion County 21st Century Scholars by spending countless hours assisting families in finalizing their applications, attending school events, strategizing new marketing techniques, meeting with schools and counselors, and streamlining application processes, among other activities to encourage and connect with the local community. Indy Achieves will again this school year be working with partners like the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to enroll Marion County Students. 

“For the 2019-2020 school year, we are on pace to more than double the number from last year that Indy Achieves enrolls in 21st Century Scholars,” said Esther Gamble, EmployIndy’s Manager of Student Progress for Indy Achieves. “This is a testament to our involvement with the schools and communities and we are excited to grow these partnerships as we work together to open doors for young people to persist in postsecondary education.”

It’s not too early in 7th and 8th grade to be planning for life after high school. The 21st Century Scholars program is designed for students to aspire to higher learning and have the understanding that no matter their socioeconomic status, they have the opportunity to pursue education and training beyond high school. The 21st Century Scholars application is free and takes less than five minutes to complete.

“Indy Achieves has been an integral partner in the enrollment of 21st Century Scholars in Marion County. As we embark on the 30th anniversary of the 21st Century Scholars program next year, this and other community partnerships will continue to make a vital impact on the work being done at the local level to ensure Scholars are ready for college and successful in their pursuit of education beyond high school,” says Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers.

Throughout the county there are educators and counselors working to register their eligible 7th and 8th grade students in 21st Century Scholars. One of the larger schools in the district, Northview Middle School, is setting the bar high for other locations as they utilize an internal process to enroll students.

“Enrolling students in 21st Century Scholars is something that is a part of the community and culture of our school. It involves a comprehensive plan that starts in September each year and doesn’t wrap up until the last day of school,” said Jen Dodson, Professional School Counselor at Northview Middle School. “It is a big job but one that is incredibly important as it helps us break down barriers that exist between some of our students and their goal of attaining a college degree.”

Marion County educators and families can receive assistance, register and find out more at IndyAchieves.org/21cs. Statewide applications are available at all middle schools and accepted through the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s ScholarTrack. The application program is for current Indiana 7th and 8th grade students through June 30, 2020.