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EmployIndy making strides with Indy Achieves initiative

  Staff increases to support admitted student retention and boost awareness of 21st Century Scholars program as June 30 deadline approaches

From growing staff to partnering with over 100 community and business leaders to mentor young adults, Indy Achieves is making progress in its first year. This initiative was established by Mayor Joe Hogsett and is housed at EmployIndy to support Marion County students as they pursue a postsecondary degree or credential. Over the past few months, Indy Achieves has furthered relationships with IUPUI, Ivy Tech Community College, and the Commission for Higher Education to make it possible to bridge the education attainment gap in Marion County.

The broad goal of Indy Achieves is to address the Indianapolis skills gap of 215,000 residents who need job-ready credentials by 2025. EmployIndy is also putting the personnel in place to improve summer retention for students and increase public awareness of available (and often overlooked) financial aid for their postsecondary education.

One of the key components of Indy Achieves is the mentorship program. Yecenia Tostado, Associate Director of Indy Achieves, has taken lead in making this program a reality as the first connections were made between mentors and mentees in February 2019. Since its inception, this program has connected over 100 business and civic leaders with two to three college-bound students each by utilizing a text messaging system to send reminders about important deadlines, such as filling out an application, attending orientation, registering for courses, and more.

“Yecenia Tostado has been integral in building the Indy Achieves mentorship program from the ground up,” said Matt Impink, Executive Director of Indy Achieves. “Under her direction, we surpassed our recruitment goals and she has established a lasting model that provides flexibility and ease for students and mentors alike.”

With the mentorship program underway, the Indy Achieves team is focusing their efforts on an even younger population: middle school students. In 2017, only 51% of the eligible 8th grade Marion County students were registered for 21st Century Scholars, a program from Indiana’s Commission for Higher Education that grants full tuition scholarships for Hoosier students to attend an Indiana two- or four-year college after they complete high school. 

Esther Gamble, Indy Achieves Manager of Student Progress, recently joined the team and is working to increase awareness of 21st Century Scholars. From meeting with guidance counselors and sharing a 21st Century Scholars Enrollment Toolkit to speaking on the news, Gamble is going school to school, encouraging parents and educators to register their students before time runs out for graduating 8th graders on June 30, 2019.

In addition to grassroots promotion, EmployIndy is furthering awareness for Indy Achieves via an online and radio advertising campaign targeting parents and guardians as schools are reaching summer break.

“The growth of this program fulfills the vision of EmployIndy to remove barriers for all Marion County residents so every individual has the opportunity to excel,” said Angela Carr Klitzsch, president & CEO of EmployIndy. “Indy Achieves creates an avenue to improve the future of the workforce by addressing the projected skills gap in Indianapolis.”

With available funding from Commission for Higher Education programs like 21st Century Scholars, students currently experiencing financial barriers have the opportunity to invest in their education. More good and promising jobs now than ever before require individuals to have some form of postsecondary training or education. In order to build up Indianapolis and open doors for our young people, it is crucial to utilize the education funding available.

The due date to register all Indianapolis graduating 8th graders for 21st Century Scholars is June 30th, 2019. For Marion County residents seeking application assistance, Indy Achieves aims to help so students can achieve their dreams – learn more at indyachieves.org/21cs.