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Posted on June 25th, 2019 in Success Story Tags:

On a sunny Friday afternoon in early June, the chatter is high near the back of the DECO Coatings campus. A large space with multiple warehouse-sized buildings, DECO Coatings is an industrial coating business located just southwest of downtown Indy, with a long list of organizational certifications, that handles primarily industrial and government projects. The group of students and parents and DECO staff could be easy to miss if not for the cheerful conversations – they are all gathered in and around a small standalone building that looks like a little house.

Family and staff gather for the graduation recognition

“We had a building, and some big ideas,” said DECO’s president, Janet South. This is the building where students learn, careers take off, and a family has been formed through a unique collaboration. “Tracy Hartman of EmployIndy introduced us to The Crossing School – we will be forever grateful for that.”

Hartman is one of EmployIndy’s employer engagement managers who works with local businesses to uncover opportunities related to their workforce needs. This introduction and guidance has resulted in a rich work-based learning program that brings students from The Crossing School into DECO for a combination of “academics, skill building, work experience, and training – but also mentorship from the heart,” said Crossing School regional director, Alyssa Vanvactor. “We hope to provide students the ability to be a contributing member of their community, while also training up the next round of our partners’ employees.”

She describes The Crossing School (which has campuses all over Indiana) as a landing spot for students who struggle in traditional high school due to various barriers or learning styles. Locally they also partner with Gaylor Electric and Kirby Risk, with the DECO partnership officially kicking off in January of 2019 with a small cohort of high school juniors and seniors.

“It is far beyond what we expected,” Janet South said, acknowledging the time and effort that went into setting up the infrastructure for such a collaboration, but also gushing with excitement for the program.  “Beyond the return on investment for developing talent, it has been amazing for our existing staff.”

Graduates with new DECO gear pose with leadership staff

Initially, South’s staff of skilled tradespeople were concerned about the students slowing down their fast-paced work environment – but after just a short amount of time and training, they were singing a different tune.

For existing staff, South said “building this community increases job satisfaction. It is hard work, but has lead to higher-level buy-in because they feel accountable for the students – it has changed the morale for all of us.”

As for the students involved, she noted their growth as an exciting new part of what used to be routine work. “Students learned that a ‘menial task’ was a big necessity for their coworkers – and they don’t want to let people down. You could watch these young people developing the trait of accountability.” Additionally, students were able to participate in trade shows, work off-site for projects, receive hands-on equipment training, and earn valuable industry certifications like OSHA 10 or OSHA 30 that can help them continue a career at DECO or elsewhere.

On this sunny Friday afternoon, the crowd of parents, classmates, and program contributors are gathered to recognize two students who have fully invested in the program and are set to begin their internationally recognized two-year SSPC apprenticeship, right there at DECO. “Students graduate ready to be hired,” said Vanvactor. “Many of them stay and become a part of the company, because it is already their home.”

Kenny Bacon, 2019 graduate

That is exactly what graduate Kenny Bacon plans to do, citing a semester at DECO as good preparation to move from student to coworker. “This built me as a better person, it motivated me,” said Bacon. “Now I am officially hired to keep learning hard skills and soft skills. Before January 15th, I had no plan – this has helped me as a person to have better priorities, and now I have lots of opportunity.”

EmployIndy’s Tracy Hartman identifies this partnership as a prime example of the way local businesses can and should engage with young people to build skilled talent pipeline in a tight labor market. “Essentially they are getting a chance to ‘try before they buy,'” says Hartman. “After a time of bonding and mentoring, it is clear if they will be a good fit.”

And what of a student who might not be a good fit? “Not all students enter the apprenticeship program,” said South. “One of them will be working in our office.”

Eanne Beuoy

She was speaking about Eanne Beuoy, a student who struggled with the manual labor and the heat and sweat of coating work on the floor. Eager to find a role that could be a better fit for Eanne, Janet South moved her into the air conditioned office where she has been able to develop administrative skills that are also important to DECO.

“I had a hard time being on the floor,” Beuoy said, “but I fit in the office, being organized with files and working on my social skills on the phones.” She was provided a call script for phone calls, and worked with South to practice customer service while also diving into the details of supporting the administrative work of the office.

Her mother, Lara Beuoy, was excited to see Eanne continue with DECO into her senior year. “It’s obvious people learn differently,” she said. “[Eanne] excels with this hands-on style of learning. This has really been wonderful – the confidence in succeeding this way is amazing.”

DECO staff pose with framed “thank you” note from students

The willingness from the top of DECO’s leadership to support students transitioned into an entire staff who worked to lift up these students, with everyone involved and quick to describe the group as “family.” Grateful students even banded together, unprompted, to write a thoughtful “thank you” to a DECO member who took particular care of their learning and growth.

For all the positives, there is nuance to a work-based learning arrangement like this one – details had to be ironed out regarding an initial investment, tax credits, space for class, and a small computer lab for student work. And even though this year’s graduates are sticking to the apprenticeship path, there is no guarantee that students will stay with DECO after they matriculate.

But for South, Vanvactor, Hartman, and all the students involved, it has become about more than that.

As Janet South says, “These students may not stay at DECO, but wherever they land they will have skill sets that employers will value for the rest of their lives.”

To see how your business can get involved in work-based learning, contact us.

Posted on April 16th, 2019 in Events, Speaking Engagements Tags: , , ,

Dozens of students at Arsenal Tech High School who have an interest in starting their own business gathered in the historic courtroom on campus to listen to panelists from a variety of backgrounds talk about their experiences with entrepreneurship. This is because being an entrepreneur is more about having a certain skill set and mindset than anything – and that skill set can be helpful whether it results in founding a business or pursuing a more traditional career.

After a presentation from Kathy England of Regions Bank about the importance of understanding the realities of how financials play a role in starting a business, Joseph Eldridge of 100 Black Men Indianapolis moderated the panel, along with questions from students. Below are some highlights from the panelists:

Chris Hoyt

Chris Hoyt – Founder, Apprenace

“Often, people are searching for how to get to the top when the solution is right next to us. When I found something that I do well, I wanted to see how to turn it into a business – but just because you do something well, does not always mean customers are ready for it. The first thing you need is customers, if you don’t want to fail. Once I had enough people saying ‘yes, I would like to try this,’ then I used their feedback to create my initial product offerings. We did a lot to understand businesses and what their concerns and doubts are so that we are offering something specific rather than ambiguous.”

Melita Carter

Melita Carter – Founder & CEO, Natural Born Leaders Academy

“As you are building your business, you don’t have to be good at every aspect of your business, but you have to know a little bit about everything to make sure other people you hire do their job well… As long as you know a little about a lot, to hire the right people, you can be successful. And that comes from reading and reading and researching and researching.”

NaShana Mitchell

NaShana Mitchell – Founder, Studio B; Co-founder, Design Bank

“You need to ask yourself why, what, who, where? Why am I committed? What am I offering? Who is my customer that will use this? And where do the transactions take place? Is it a building or online? And as you figure that out, it always circles back to ‘why,’ and you go from there. I had a business where once we made a $10,000 mistake – so after that we asked lots of questions and learned from it to make the right decision next time.”

Aundre G. Hogue

Aundre G. hogue – Regional Vice President, PFS Investments

“You don’t have to be good at everything, but your business does. To go to the next level, it is more of a mindset – too many  people never get off the ground because they are scared to fail. I don’t know anyone who is successful who hasn’t failed first. You need to fail forward, and keep moving.”

Dani Williams

Dani Williams – Entrepreneur, Creative Leader, Social Media Strategist

“When I decided to become a special media strategist, it is because I found a need… Some people have wants, and some have needs – I have been most successful when I find a need and try to fill it. I am also a big believer in collaboration over competition, so I find ways for entrepreneurs to raise each other up through business.”

“Thank you for doing this. No one has ever done something like this for us.”
– Arsenal Tech student after the event

For more about the panelists, view the program from the event.

Posted on April 10th, 2019 in Press Releases Tags: , , ,

A $1M investment from JPMorgan Chase is part of nearly $2M in total funds invested in IPS’ postsecondary readiness and career academies programming

Al Smith, JPMorgan Chase Indiana Chairman and Corye Franklin, Principle of Arsenal Technical High School

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – April 10, 2019 — Today, JPMorgan Chase announced investments totaling $1 million to Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), EmployIndy and JFF to increase access to work-based learning opportunities for IPS high school students. Alongside local and national leaders, JPMorgan Chase made the announcement at the Arsenal Technical High School STEM Learning Lab.

“Our rapidly-changing economy requires new skills to meet the growing needs of companies across the region,” said Al Smith, chairman of JPMorgan Chase in Indiana. “This public-private collaboration will create economic opportunity and career mobility. It’s an investment in Indianapolis’ most valuable resource ― our vibrant student population that will be better prepared to compete for well-paying careers and bright futures.”

Marie Mackintosh, EmployIndy COO, on the importance of skilling up students

IPS launched new college and career options as part of the new All-Choice High School Model at the start of this academic year. Under the new structure, students choose a high school based on their desired area of study ― there is no restriction on where they live. The restructuring created college and career pathways that help all students graduate on time and achieve one of the district’s three Es — to Enroll in a two- or four-year college or university, Enlist in the armed services or be Employed at a livable wage. Research shows that students are more engaged and successful when robust academic options are combined with rigorous instruction and work-based learning opportunities.

Faith Harrington (Crispus Attucks student), Susan Ford (Trilogy), Jennifer O’Shea (IPS), Marie Mackintosh (EmployIndy), Owen Washburn (JPMorgan Chase)

“Having access to quality work-based learning opportunities will provide IPS students with the employability skills necessary to succeed beyond high school, in whatever path they choose,” said IPS Interim Superintendent Aleesia Johnson. “The generous investment by JPMorgan Chase will support the efforts of IPS and EmployIndy to ensure that all IPS students have access to meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and that employers have the ability to engage with our students — the future of our workforce.”

EmployIndy has been the link between employers and the increasing need to accelerate and enhance IPS postsecondary readiness initiatives since 2017. EmployIndy has also served a critical role in informing the Health Sciences Career Academy design through provision of labor market research for skills mapping; participation on academy advisory boards; development of employability skills curriculum and badging; and the facilitation of experiences on the work-based learning continuum.

This investment will create a sustainable partnership and develop critical infrastructure, engaging employers in a sequence of experiential learning activities across all IPS college and career academies. JFF’s Pathways to Prosperity team will provide direct support and the capacity building needed to accomplish this work.

“The two-year commitment from JPMorgan Chase includes technical assistance from JFF to develop a clear vision, framework and strategic plan for EmployIndy to serve as the work-based learning intermediary in Indianapolis,” said Angela Carr Klitzsch, president and CEO of EmployIndy. “Our work together will establish essential infrastructure for EmployIndy to scale work-based learning in a robust and complex workforce development ecosystem.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett

“This investment in work-based learning is a win for Indianapolis, because it will enhance educational opportunities for students, strengthen our talent pipeline, and enable businesses to directly connect with their future workforce,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Together, we are working to ensure that our young people have clear paths, experiences, and credentials that fit the needs of our modern economy.”

The IPS Education Foundation (IPSEF) collaborates closely with IPS leadership, teachers and staff to ensure that development activities align with IPS strategic priorities. As a mission-driven development organization, IPSEF brings fundraising expertise and capacity, thus allowing district administrators to focus on their core business — leadership in support of excellent teaching and learning. IPSEF will receive the investment and help distribute the funds across the district.

“This investment from JPMorgan Chase will help catalyze the partnership for IPS and EmployIndy to bring this critical work to scale across the district,” said Stephannie Bailey, executive director of the IPS Education Foundation. “As the philanthropic arm to the district, we are grateful and excited to celebrate this major investment in the future of our IPS students, families and staff.”

Susan Ford (Trilogy), Betsy Revell (EmployIndy)

The benefits of the investments were highlighted through a panel discussion at today’s announcement that included a current IPS student, Faith Harrington; employer partner Trilogy Health’s Talent Engagement Support, Susan Ford; EmployIndy Chief Operations Officer, Marie Mackintosh; and IPS Post-Secondary Readiness Officer, Jennifer O’Shea. The discussion was moderated by JPMorgan Chase Vice President f Global Philanthropy, Owen Washburn.

The investment by JPMorgan Chase is part of nearly $2 million awarded to IPS for postsecondary readiness over the last year. Eli Lilly and Company Foundation gave $300,000 in grant funding to support professional development, technology investment and youth employment at IPS’ Advanced Manufacturing, Engineering & Logistics Academy and Construction, Engineering & Design Academy. IU Health awarded $50,000 to support the Health Sciences Academy. Finally, in 2018, awarded $500,000 to support the Information Technology Academy, future centers at the district’s high schools, and business partnerships.

For more information, contact IPS Communications Manager, Carrie Cline Black, at 317-605-3797.

About JPMorgan Chase & Co.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.6 trillion and operations worldwide. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, JPMorgan Chase & Co. serves millions of customers in the United States and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients under its J.P. Morgan and Chase brands. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at

About Indianapolis Public Schools
The largest public school district in Indiana, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) is an agile, innovative educational organization committed to academic excellence built through individualized, relationship-based learning. We empower our students to think critically, creatively and responsibly, to embrace diversity and pursue their dreams with purpose. Though we cover 80 square miles, employ over 5,000 people, and serve over 30,000 students, we are committed to serving individual students with what they need. To learn more about IPS, please visit

About EmployIndy
EmployIndy guides the local workforce ecosystem and makes strategic investments to remove barriers to quality employment for underserved and underrepresented residents. As the workforce development board for Marion County, guided by 21 business, civic, education, and non-profit community leaders, EmployIndy invests $20 million in public, private and philanthropic funds for both youth and adults annually. Information about EmployIndy is available at

About JFF
JFF is a national nonprofit that drives transformation in the American workforce and education systems. For 35 years, JFF has led the way in designing innovative and scalable solutions that create access to economic advancement for all. Launched in 2012, Pathways to Prosperity is a joint initiative of JFF and the Harvard Graduate School of Education that seeks to ensure that many more young people complete high school, attain postsecondary credentials with currency in the labor market, and launch careers while leaving open the prospect of further education. Information about JFF is available at

About the IPS Education Foundation
The Indianapolis Public Schools Education Foundation (IPSEF) seeks to secure and deploy resources to support Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) students, teachers and administrators across the District. Alignment with IPS strategies and partners drives strategy to secure philanthropic capital to close funding gaps and to fulfill the District’s mission. IPSEF seeks to generate revenue that allows the District to improve organizational effectiveness, drive academic innovation and invest in talented educators. For more information on IPS Education Foundation, please visit