Positive Trajectory for Youth
Create a positive trajectory for youth and young adults to actively participate in the workforce.
The number of Marion County residents who are not completing high school and do not have a high school diploma or equivalency continues to increase. From March 2020 through March 2021, 55.7% of Marion County unemployment insurance claimants reported having a high school diploma or below.
Traditional education pathways do not work for all students. Of the 86,000 Indiana sophomores projected to graduate from high school by 2024, only 20% will complete higher education on time to enter the workforce.
This year, EmployIndy established intentional plans for scaling high-quality, career-connected learning and expanding opportunities for youth and young adults to earn educational certifications and credentials through a unique mix of career readiness programs and initiatives. EmployIndy works with partners to implement strategies for ensuring career readiness through seamless transitions to postsecondary education, real-world experiences, rigorous and quality career pathways, and closing the equity gap.
With the large majority of students in a remote atmosphere during the 2020-2021 academic year, EmployIndy needed to pivot quickly to continue providing work-based learning experiences for Indianapolis students. Talent Bound, EmployIndy’s work-based learning initiative, adjusted to provide nearly 22,000 career exploration activities to both high school students and Opportunity Youth – with most of them taking place in a virtual setting.
A grant from the Salesforce Foundation was announced in June to provide the resources needed to close the opportunity gap by creating more equitable access to work-based learning for opportunity youth. To continue programmatic growth, there has been additional planning funded by the Walton Family Foundation to begin the expansion of Talent Bound in three new high schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Indianapolis Public Schools
As the largest school system in Indiana, EmployIndy partnered with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to pilot Talent Bound in 2018. Since then, the partnership has grown exponentially with a joint focus on providing students with the necessary skills to excel in life after high school. Part of this focus is partnering to launch the New Skills Ready Network, a career readiness initiative to build out career pathways that will provide obvious next steps for students as they progress from secondary to postsecondary education.
New Skills Ready Network Indianapolis
New Skills Ready Network (NSRN) is a cross-sector initiative developing pathways and policy recommendations that give underserved students access to higher education and real-world work experiences that lead to high-wage, in-demand jobs. In October 2020, JPMorgan Chase announced that Indianapolis, one of five new U.S. cities, would receive a $7 million career readiness investment as part of a $75 million global commitment to prepare young people for the future of work.
This year, the Indianapolis network of education, state, and workforce partners focused on two major priorities: identifying initial career pathways of focus and designing data infrastructure to guide strategic planning and increase access to outcomes data for learners and families.
A guiding principle of NSRN is to build seamless transitions to support postsecondary success. A key local systemic improvement to this end was the integration of an Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC) Postsecondary Pathways Coach at IPS to provide targeted, on-site support to students in CTE pathways and to help build connections between IPS and ITCC instructors that strengthen dual-credit courses.
The Network also assisted an ITCC effort to release the first Launch Survey, capturing employment and continuing education information on new college graduates, and the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet effort to pilot the state’s first Equity Lab for inclusion into the Comprehensive Local Needs Assessment for schools receiving Perkins funding and expansion to postsecondary partners.
Ivy Tech and IUPUI
Ivy Tech Community College and IUPUI are staple institutions in Indianapolis and are integral change-makers for ensuring Indianapolis students have the necessary support to enroll and complete postsecondary education. These partnerships extend across a variety of other EmployIndy career readiness programs, including Talent Bound and Indy Achieves.
Indy Achieves launched a Strategic Plan this year with an intentional focus on creating a seamless transition to higher education for Indianapolis residents of all ages so that they may successfully progress into the workforce after completion. With this growing plan, the program will expand to adult learners, including adults who attended Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC) or IUPUI but did not complete their degree, and employees at partner companies seeking further education.
Since launching in 2018, Indy Achieves has focused on traditional pathways to postsecondary education, providing Promise Scholarships and Completion Grants to students at ITCC and IUPUI. In the 2020-2021 academic year, a total of 759 Promise Scholarships and 457 Completion Grants were awarded between the two schools. IUPUI participating students had a 7% higher Fall-Fall retention rate and 94% success rate with students either re-enrolling or graduating. ITCC participating students had a 12% higher Fall-Fall retention rate.
This year, Indy Achieves proudly enrolled 36% of Marion County’s 2025 21st Century Scholars cohort.
City of Indianapolis
In 2020, to continue providing financial support for students, the City of Indianapolis awarded $327,000 of CARES Act dollars to EmployIndy to support the Indy Achieves program and achieve a record number of grants distributed to support educational attainment. While Indy Achieves is one of Mayor Hogsett’s educational programs, the City also supports Project Indy to provide direct access to jobs for youth. As Project Indy expanded, EmployIndy partnered with the Indy Chamber to launch Job Ready Indy, the employability skills builder for all EmployIndy’s career readiness initiatives and programs.