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EmployIndy receives $5.2 million from Lilly Endowment to bolster youth employment efforts

Posted on February 15th, 2018 in Press Releases

Lilly Endowment Inc. has approved $5.2 million in grants to EmployIndy to strengthen the services it offers to local organizations that help youth and young adults connect to education support, training, and job coaching.

A $3 million grant from Lilly Endowment will help EmployIndy fund a comprehensive capacity-building plan to improve outreach to youth and young adults so they can learn about employment options, education assistance, and job training that can help them find work and begin to build their careers. Funds also will help EmployIndy increase and strengthen its engagement with Indianapolis employers seeking job-ready candidates.

There are an estimated 30,000 youth and young adults, ages 16-24, who are disconnected from education and employment in central Indiana for a variety of reasons, such as homelessness, criminal history, lack of family support, and inadequate access to job training. EmployIndy will strategically invest grant funds to help community organizations that directly provide youth services so they can reach 6,000 of these young people during the next two years.

A second grant of $2.2 million from Lilly Endowment will provide general operating support for EmployIndy’s Youth Employment Services (YES) program. Lilly Endowment began funding YES in 2003. Since then, YES has empowered 5,570 low-income individuals, ages 16-24, to complete their education, secure jobs and strengthen work skills.

YES does this through job coaching and career counseling and offering financial support for child care, transportation and additional training.

“These grants will enable EmployIndy to help expand and enhance the efforts of youth-serving organizations to improve significantly the employment prospects of youth in our community – especially those most in need of job skills and resources,” says EmployIndy President & CEO Angela Car Klitzsch. “We are particularly grateful for Lilly Endowment’s support of our strategic efforts to help young people living in the city’s highest-need neighborhoods.”

Youth employment has immediate benefits that include skill building, career exploration, and a paycheck. But it also can significantly affect the long-term career success of a worker. A report from the New Skills at Work initiative of JP Morgan Chase found that teen employment can lead to improved earnings once young people launch their careers in their 20s.

However, not enough youth and young adults are employed. A 12-year longitudinal study by the Brookings Institution released in 2014 looked at youth employment rates in the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Researchers found that among youth ages 16-19 in Indianapolis, labor participation fell from 49% to 28%, The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that national teen employment has declined with every recession since 1979, and projects further decline through 2024. These data raise concern for the future prospects of Indianapolis youth and the economic vitality and quality of life in central Indiana.

EmployIndy’s holistic approach to helping unemployed youth find jobs includes engagement with community organizations that serve youth and young adults and with employers. EmployIndy strives to connect job-ready applicants with employers in their neighborhoods and help employers who are looking citywide to find strong job applicants.

“The future prospects for thousands of youth in our community depend on their ability to find and qualify for jobs that will pay them a livable wage and place them on a promising employment pathway for the future,” says N. Clay Robbins, Lilly Endowment’s chairman, president and CEO.  “We are pleased to provide this funding for EmployIndy’s strategic efforts to build an effective and comprehensive system of supports to help these youth succeed.”