Recent News & Blog

Posted on January 15th, 2021 in Local News, Organizational Updates, Success Story

The entire EmployIndy and YES Indy family mourns with the Indianapolis community after the loss of “Mr. Johnny” Purchase, a beloved mentor and community leader who helped shape the lives of so many young persons throughout our city. He was an active and dedicated member of both the YES Indy and Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC) teams, providing mentorship and guidance to so many who participated in youth and family focused programming. 

“He’s one of the most thoughtful men I know.” expressed Jamiah Banks, a YES Indy participant, in remembering the role that Mr. Johnny played in his life. “He did whatever he could to help others.” Jamiah also recalled memories of how Mr. Johnny would help him with his school work and regularly challenge him to 3-point shootout competitions in the basketball gym.

Mr. Johnny tragically lost his life on January 12, 2021 while out serving in the community, bringing hope to struggling families. When serving with YES Indy, Mr. Johnny was always faithful to reinforce YES Indy’s work by encouraging the young people around him to establish a vision for their life and achieve it. “Mentor, life-coach, motivator, professional, passionate, compassionate, committed, dependable, firm, fair, warm, steady. These are but a few of the adjectives that come to mind when I think of Johnny Purchase.” said Rev. Rodney T. Francis, Chief Programs Officer at EmployIndy. “Johnny epitomized the ideal Re-Engagement Facilitator. He had a unique way of reaching and connecting with Opportunity Youth. His impact was huge and his loss is a tremendous blow to our community.”  

When Devonte Whitehead, a mentee of Mr. Johnny’s, received his forklift license, Mr. Johnny took him out to lunch to celebrate the accomplishment. “Everything he did, he did it with a purpose.” remembers Whitehead. “He would always have a smile on his face and if you were having a bad day, he could cheer you up by just looking at you.”

Mr. Johnny Purchase served as a Family Success Coach at the Edna Martin Christian Center (EMCC) where he had an “unyielding commitment to engender a vision of hope.” Lashawn Offett, a mentee of Mr. Johnny’s at EMCC, described him as a caring person who ultimately motivated him to go back to school to finish his diploma.

On behalf of all of the EmployIndy staff, we ask that you join us in lifting up the Purchase family, keeping them in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. If you would like to offer support in additional ways, details can be found on the family’s GoFundMe page: https://gofund.me/07a48022


Posted on December 3rd, 2020 in Events, Success Story

“The Power Huddle helped me out because it made me sit there and set goals for me and my children and also think about what I really want for my life.” said Daijia Bible, a 23-year-old mother of three and recent completer of YES Indy’s virtual Power Huddle program. Daijia, along with 23 other young adults from Indy’s Eastside, gathered virtually and in-person in a socially distanced setting at the Indianapolis Boys & Girls Club located on 38th & Post Rd to celebrate this important milestone. During the ceremony that included completers from cohorts 17-19, several had the opportunity to share how the Power Huddle had helped them grow as well as show off their “vision board”, which they created during their time in the program.

The Power Huddle is YES Indy’s two-week job readiness experience where young persons have the opportunity to participate in group discussions, explore opportunities and support through YES Indy, and complete job preparedness activities that help them map out and work towards reaching their academic, career, and life goals. Since its inception, the Power Huddle has seen over 140 young persons go through the program. Upon completion, young individuals like Daijia develop important soft skills, earn two badges from Job Ready Indy, and build the confidence needed to take their next step. For Daijia, that includes studying cosmetology and eventually starting her own business. Thanks to the Power Huddle, she’s taken an important step in making those goals a reality.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Power Huddle program is currently being offered virtually. Young persons interested in participating in an upcoming Power Huddle session can learn more and register by visiting: https://yesindy317.org/power-huddle.


Posted on November 9th, 2020 in Events, Organizational Updates

EmployIndy, Ascend Indiana, CareerWise Colorado, Zurich North America, and many more are changing the perception of apprenticeships – engaging innovative employers in high-demand industries to prepare young people for the workforce of the future.

Traditionally, apprenticeships are viewed as opportunities exclusively available to adults in the trade industries, such as welding and construction. In the 21st century, that is no longer true. These industries learned early on that this structure was critical to build a trained workforce – something that many employers in other fields wished for. To celebrate these opportunities and the expansion of apprenticeship into high-demand fields, such as IT, healthcare, and business, the United States Department of Labor hosts National Apprenticeship Week.

National Apprenticeship Week brings together business leaders, career seekers, educational institutions, and stakeholders to showcase their programs and apprentices within their community. The participating employers have prepared a highly-skilled workforce to meet their talent needs as they shape individuals to both invest in their industry and fit the mold of their company.

In 2018 and 2019, EmployIndy staff members attended a Best Practices summit in Denver, Colorado, and the CEMETs Institute in Switzerland to learn more about the modern youth apprenticeship model and see how it could be implemented in Indianapolis. This all started because EmployIndy was launching Talent Bound – a work-based learning initiative for high school students. While work-based learning is preparing students for career exploration and engagement, the next step was to create on-the-job opportunities that could ultimately translate into a career.

Recognizing that a traditional four-year education is not always the best option for all students, EmployIndy and Ascend Indiana announced an innovative Modern Apprenticeship program, utilizing the structure that was put in place by the trades industries and making it applicable to other high-growth, high-demand industries. By connecting employers to high school students, they are able to build their current and future talent pipeline while providing young adults with the unique opportunity to build their professional network, graduate high school, get paid a higher wage, and gain an industry-recognized credential and college credits. In partnership with CareerWise Colorado in Elkhart County and Ascend Indiana, EmployIndy is aiming to do at least 100 apprenticeships over the next four years in Indiana.

The Modern Apprenticeship Program creates a structure for employers to be part of the solution and removes barriers so all students can have equal accessibility to careers in high-demand fields, ultimately leading to economic mobility.

The launch of Modern Apprenticeship is just one local career readiness plan:

  • Ascend Indiana is leading a statewide Community of Practice with postsecondary and secondary institutions, government leaders, funders, and stakeholders
  • EmployIndy is leading the New Skills Ready Network to build out career readiness opportunities for all young people alongside Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), Governors Workforce Cabinet, Ivy Tech Community College, IUPUI, Ascend Indiana and Indiana Commission for Higher Education

In July 2020, CareerWise Colorado, in partnership with EmployIndy, Ascend Indiana, Horizon Education Alliance, CityBridge Education, and HERE to HERE, was awarded a $5 million grant from the US Department of Labor to assist in expanding the number of registered youth apprenticeships. This happens by working directly with local employers to demystify youth apprenticeships while supporting them along the program lifecycle. These funds are specifically tailored towards creating shared supportive services to build a learning network based on local expertise and diverse economic environments.

Organizations nationwide are recognizing the value of apprenticeship for all industries and we are excited to support our young people and our community by building career readiness strategies and best practices for all residents.