YES Indy | EmployIndy

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

To our Ecosystem Partners, Supporters and Influencers –

Over the past decade, Indianapolis has seen an 80 percent increase in individuals living in poverty. This is unacceptable. In an effort to discontinue impoverishing more families, EmployIndy aims to not only grow our programs and initiatives, but to invest in services for residents directly impacted by lack of access to education and training and jobs not paying a living, middle class wage.

In 2017, EmployIndy made a promise to the community to be a catalyst for change. Through addressing systemic barriers for entry-level workers by supporting employers; creating a positive trajectory for young adults by providing them with increased opportunities; and allocating resources to invest in our most marginalized neighborhoods, EmployIndy has recently concluded the second year of its strategic effort to establish a comprehensive workforce ecosystem for Indianapolis.

While there is still more work to be done, I invite you to peruse the highlights of our efforts throughout program year 2018. As EmployIndy reflects on year two of our Strategic Plan, we call out the barriers to quality employment for residents living in poverty and identify the tactical solutions that serve as a cornerstone to our programs and initiatives for underserved and underrepresented neighbors. By expanding our community reach through high school and postsecondary initiatives and increasing our access to individuals who are upskilling and re-engaging in the workforce, EmployIndy has played a major role in investing in the education, training and job placement of tens of thousands of residents.

We could not have done this without our partners. From educators in the K-12 space to passionate and committed employers to community and faith-based organizations working directly with previously incarcerated workers, we have come together to provide hope, encourage determination, inspire resiliency, reduce barriers and open doors for success.

Thank you to all our stakeholders who have played a role in identifying and executing on solutions that focus on increasing access and opportunity for our fellow Indianapolis residents. EmployIndy continues to grow these pivotal relationships as we endeavor with your help to build a pipeline of workers for a strong regional economy, invest in young people and contribute to reversing the growth of poverty in our community.

– Angela Carr Klitzsch, EmployIndy President & CEO


Posted on August 1st, 2019 in Press Releases Tags: ,

EmployIndy is formally launching its YES Indy Re-Engagement Center (REC), expanding to two additional locations at Eastern Star Church and Mount Carmel Church after soft-launching a pilot site over a year ago with the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club on the Far Eastside. The RECs are designed as an outreach tactic to attract “opportunity youth” – residents ages 16-24 who have disconnected from education and/or employment – using open gym basketball to bring them to a space where career services can be offered.

open gym basketballThe concept came from the mind of Rev. Rodney Francis, senior director of opportunity youth at EmployIndy, and aligns with the organization’s strategic plan to provide positive opportunities for young adults, particularly in impoverished, high-crime neighborhoods. The first REC has been quietly operating at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club, utilizing their facility during school hours when it would traditionally be closed.

“Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis believes every young person deserves to live a life filled with hope and opportunity,” said Maggie A. Lewis, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Indianapolis. “Providing our youth on the Far Eastside with more than just basketball, but a safe place to spend time and engage with those who can help them seek educational and employment opportunities is critical to inspiring and empowering them toward success.”

Since the soft launch last May, over 1,200 individuals have come through the doors to play basketball, many of whom would meet the criteria to receive YES Indy services. Once engaged, young adults have opportunities to engage with REFs (re-engagement facilitators) and start creating a life change by attending the “Power Huddle,” a mind-setting course offered at the Finish Line Boys & Girls Club to participants who want to take that first step. 

During the Power Huddle, participants reframe their view of their own future and are introduced to opportunities available through YES Indy, such as achieving their high school equivalency, working with a career coach, enrolling in training, and receiving barrier busting support, such as assistance with rent, transportation, or childcare.

“Reconnecting disconnected young adults with education and employment opportunities is an important element of our strategy for inclusive growth,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett.  “When young people in all of our city’s neighborhoods have access to postsecondary education and good paying jobs, we see greater social and economic equality, as well as successes in crime reduction and an increase in the overall sense of security for youth and their families across Indianapolis.”

Key to making the concept work is developing partnerships for hosting participants and working with one of the eleven Indianapolis-area YES Indy providers to offer career services. EmployIndy also negotiated relationships with adult education providers and local businesses for referrals. The collaborative efforts aim to have lasting impact on the crime, poverty, and economic mobility in the neighborhoods where RECs are located.

In order to continue these efforts, EmployIndy has braided funds from grantors such as Lilly Endowment, Starbucks Foundation, the City of Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety and most recently, Community Leadership Innovation Fund, a fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF).

“We cannot ignore the barriers confronting these individuals,” said Milt Thompson, advisor to the Community Leadership Innovation Fund at Central Indiana Community Foundation. “These youth are at a critical moment in their lives and need our community’s support more than ever.”

Jervell Jackson has been a regular during the open gym basketball, and YES Indy has opened doors that may never have seemed possible. His career navigator at CAFE, a YES Indy service provider, helped pay for books to prepare for his CDL exam, and connected him to classes to become a certified basketball referee. The staff at the various organizations who partner to bring YES Indy to life are excited when they see positive outcomes and hope to see more as the two new RECs continue to grow.

“I took the information I learned and put it to use,” said Jackson. “Not only have I become a better man, I learned how crucial it is to find what you want your career in life to be and to not settle for anything less.”

Connect to a YES Indy service provider at