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 yesindy317.org.


  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.


Today freshmen at Crispus Attucks High School participated in mock interviews at their Future Center, conducted by local business organizations, such as EmployIndy, Ivy Tech, and St. Vincent/Ascension. These students spent their semester in the course ‘Preparing for College and Careers’ taught by Polly Brelage. This course taught them about the importance of two of the three IPS School ‘Three E’ mentality: Enroll and Employ. Although the students had been preparing for these interviews, many of them still struggled to demonstrate the necessary skills for success.

Beth Bowling (EmployIndy) interviews Crispus Attucks student

“The largest barrier for these students during their interviews was not being able to supply different examples of work experience they have had,” said Beth Bowling, EmployIndy’s Associate Director of In-School Engagement. “With many students being so young and not yet having an employment history in the traditional sense, many of them had a difficult time thinking outside the box and translating their life experience into a workplace setting.”

However, not all students struggled with this part of the prompt. Brian, one of the interviewees, shared a bit of his experience with the mock interview:

“The hardest part was definitely when they asked about my experience and why I would be good for the job since I’ve never worked anywhere before,” he stated. “But then I remembered that I could pull from examples in my own life. I talked about different jobs I’ve had around the house and how I’ve been mowing the yard and tied that into how it makes me a hard worker and good at multitasking.”

“I was so proud of Brian. This entire semester he has been quiet and hesitant to speak up and his performance today truly impressed me,” said Polly, reflecting on her students’ experiences. “Many students don’t understand how important it is to participate in mock interviews. Although they don’t see it now, down the road they will realize what they learned in this class made a difference in their life.”

Mechelle Polter (EmployIndy) interviewing Brian (Crispus Attucks student)

By participating in conducting mock interviews, employers and business leaders can truly impact a student’s future. It may seem mundane during the practice, but this kind of work-based learning experience is one of many that shapes an individual as they prepare for the workforce. As a workplace professional, you have the skills to not only help young adults get ready for job interviews, you also know some ‘tricks of the trade.’

“You need to remember you are interviewing the company just like they are interviewing you,” shared Mechelle Polter, EmployIndy’s Work-based Learning Manager, during a Q&A at the end of the mock interview session. By helping students’ practice, they are gaining more than just basic interview skills – they are having life experiences.

Robert King (Ivy Tech) interviews Crispus Attucks student

Robert King, Assistant Director of K-12 Initiatives at Ivy Tech Community College, chose to take this one step further as he tied in not only how it is important to interview well, but also how crucial it is to expand their education in order to pursue a good and promising career. Through Ivy Tech’s dual-credit program, Crispus Attucks students have the opportunity to earn over one semester of transferrable course credits, saving them thousands down the road.

If you want to participate in a work-based learning experience but don’t know if an off-site mock interview is the right fit for you, EmployIndy offers connections to many other opportunities for students to experience the workforce first-hand. We are able to provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to conduct an on-site tour, participate in job shadowing or guest speaking, establish an outline for a successful apprenticeship or internship, and other work-based learning opportunities for young people.

Contact our business solutions and talent team at businesssolutions@nullemployindy.org to get started today!