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
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Posted on August 1st, 2019 in Press Releases
Tags: YES Indy
, YES Indy REC
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.
The 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 yesindy317.org.
Posted on June 28th, 2019 in Events
, Success Story
Tags: YES Indy
After weeks of work, over 60 students gathered for a ceremony at Marian University’s Allison Mansion with caps and gowns in hand to be recognized for accomplishments in overcoming their barriers to achieve educational progress.
“People invested in us, and we are so grateful,” said Sonya Barlow, who earned her hospitality (START) certification through Edna Martin Christian Center. Sonya initially went to EMCC for help with paying her utility bills, and ran into an education coach while there. After putting it off for a while, she eventually enrolled in the ten-week program, and now sees her life trajectory differently. “This is a stepping stone – now I am applying for jobs, and Edna Martin is helping me with my resume.”
Sonya Barlow (left) and Temeka Thomas
Sonya’s friend Temeka Thomas was quick to chime in when the topic of “why enroll” came up. “I did this for me – I did it to better myself,” she said. “I’m so excited – they lifted me up through losing my apartment and other tough times, but now I am here and my children are so proud of me.”
Temeka had similarly found Edna Martin Christian Center to seek help with mounting utility bills when she met Tawnya McCreary, their operations director. At this event, with numerous EMCC clients earning credentials, Tawnya appeared as a celebrity snapping photos and delivering hugs.
“Its never just social supports – we offer everything, and our clients have a choice to pursue more,” she said. “From funders, to programming, to the time that students have spent, to the efforts of staff and resources – to get here, it means our investment is getting a return. It is a blessing and an honor every time.”
Other participants were part of the YouthBuild program, which also utilizes EmployIndy’s YES Indy funding to provide NCCER construction certifications and high school equivalencies.
Travis Smith is almost 18, struggled with traditional school, and intentionally stepped into an HSE class to change his learning environment and move into a career. “This is for regular people like me,” he said, “with lots of problems going on making regular school too hard. They helped me, they checked in on me and would give me a gas card or help with a phone bill when times got tough.”
Travis Smith (right) poses with EmployIndy’s Senior Director of Opportunity Youth, Rodney Francis
The guest speaker at the ceremony, Evan Casey, left students with a feeling of inspiration – see the video below: