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Mayor Joe Hogsett, EmployIndy encourage parents of 7th and 8th grade students to file before June 30 deadline

June 17, 2019 – Indianapolis 7th and 8th grade students and their parents are encouraged to take a moment to think about something further in the future than summer break: college tuition.

Led by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, the 21st Century Scholars program provides income-eligible Hoosier students up to four years of college tuition at any participating college or university in Indiana. An crucial part of the process is that the application must be completed by June 30th of a student’s 8th grade year, which can sneak up on families currently focused on the transition to high school. In recent years, only about half of eligible Marion County students have enrolled.

“As a community, we leave a significant amount of money on the table every year – money that could provide an education and a path to a promising future,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “That is why it is so important for Marion County residents to apply for 21st Century Scholars before the June 30th deadline, to make sure all available resources make it into the hands of our students and families who need it most.”

Boosting promotion and applications for 21st Century Scholars is a key component of Indy Achieves, an initiative established by Mayor Hogsett and housed at EmployIndy to support Marion County students as they pursue a postsecondary degree or credential.

“Partnerships with local organizations like Indy Achieves are critical for the success of this program, as we find awareness of the Scholars program is one of the barriers to student enrollment,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers.

Indy Achieves staff have been working to increase awareness of 21st Century Scholars (which is a statewide program) by working with guidance counselors, coordinating digital advertising and attending school functions, encouraging parents and educators to register their students before the June 30 deadline.

“With school ending for the summer and the June 30th deadline looming, we ask our partners in the community to spread the word about this important opportunity,” said Matt Impink, executive director of Indy Achieves. “Utilizing existing postsecondary aid programs like 21st Century Scholars qualifies Marion County students for additional scholarship dollars and support services through Indy Achieves.”

Learn more and access the application at indyachieves.org/21cs


Many young people, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or background, struggle to find their path during one of the most transformative periods of their lives: their late teens and early twenties. In a recent report by the Brookings Institute, studies show that this specifically applies to individuals within this population who fall in the low income bracket and with little hope of upward mobility. Many people in this population do not believe they have the opportunities available to pursue a good and promising career or postsecondary education. The mission of EmployIndy’s YES Indy program is to break down these financial and mindset barriers so all people, regardless of their history, are able to excel not only in the workforce, but as individuals.

Many of these young men and women are placed into the stereotype of being a ‘troublemaker’ while in reality they have been proven to be some of the most dedicated workers because they have the most to lose. Through the YES Indy Re-Engagement Center (YES Indy REC; formerly the Pivot Re-Engagement Center), EmployIndy and service providers throughout Indianapolis are making an effort to engage these young people to break down and rebuild the mindsets they may have developed based on what society has told them about themselves.

“If more people join the program, they can take the step to be exactly what they want to be in life. They need to know that you can have goals in life and not everything has to be the end of the road. The most important part of life is to not give up – to keep trying against all odds,” said Jervell Jackson, one of the early participants of the Power Huddle program through YES Indy REC.

The first time Jervell joined the Power Huddle he dropped out because he didn’t believe people would want to waste their time and resources on him. He didn’t think he was worth it. He had given up at the age of 21. After hearing what he believed were rumors of other people receiving support and getting jobs, he made the conscious decision to take a risk and join the Power Huddle. “I took this information I learned and put it to use. 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.”

Since then, Jervell has become closely involved with YES Indy and encourages his peers to join by sharing his story of how it has impacted his life. He is seen as a leader at the REC and pushes others to take a chance to change their life.

Jervell (second from left) and the young men who attended the Beautillion alongside Senior Director of Opportunity Youth, Rodney Francis (third from right)

Recently, Jervell and five other young men who completed the Power Huddle, attended the 100 Black Men Beautillion. With the help of YES Indy, they were able to not only attend but to receive new attire for the event. The Beautillion is a ‘rite of passage’ for individuals from 100 Black Men who have undergone a mentorship experience and are making a commitment to themselves and their community to be individuals who are positive representatives in society, to raise their family in the same way, and accept responsibility for all their actions.

“It was amazing how quickly they adapted to the environment. You could truly see how they transformed from a from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset which reinforced what they learned in the Power Huddle,” said Katrina Owens of GO Consulting who attended this event with the young men.

In addition to attending powerful experiences such as this, Jervell has been working closely with YES Indy career navigator at CAFE, Jamarro Johnson. “Jervell was tired of living in the ‘right now’ and being told he couldn’t chase his dreams. He is now moving forward and taking serious steps to excel.”

When Jamarro found out that Jervell had the dream of being a CDL driver, he used YES Indy funds to make this possible by buying him a book to study for his commercial drivers license (CDL) test. While working part-time as a basketball referee, Jervell studied and passed his test. He was recently hired by Midwest Landscaping and is actively taking the steps to reach his overall dream of driving and eventually purchasing his own truck.  

Many young people like Jervell are looking for a second chance and YES Indy provides that opportunity. By becoming an employer partner, businesses have the confidence that they are hiring people eager to learn and have the support of community based organizations throughout the city to assist in getting them on the right path to personal and professional success. Employers should connect with EmployIndy’s business solutions team to learn more.