Community centers land funds to expand job-training programs

Four Indianapolis community centers plan to expand their job-training and adult-education programs for underemployed and unemployed residents after receiving a new grant.

Local Initiatives Support Corp., or LISC, and the Citi Foundation are providing $700,000 in total to the four local organizations with the goal of helping 700 people in Indianapolis find quality jobs—part of a $10 million nationwide effort to help 40 similar community groups across the country.

The goal is to “directly impact economic mobility in Indianapolis neighborhoods,” said Tedd Grain, executive director of LISC Indianapolis. He said the program expansion “builds on the exciting, collaborative momentum for inclusive growth in our city, enabling residents to take advantage of the significant economic development occurring in Indianapolis.”

IBJ has previously reported that Indianapolis doesn’t perform well compared to peer cities in terms of economic mobility. 

If you grew up in Indianapolis and started from the bottom fifth of the economy, you have just a 4.9 percent chance of ever reaching the top fifth, according to a recent Harvard University study by economist Raj Chetty, ranking Indianapolis as one of the least-mobile cities in the nation.

The groups receiving LISC and Citi Foundation funding in Indianapolis are the Edna Martin Christian Center, John H. Boner Neighborhood Center, Southeast Community Services and the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center.

Edna Martin plans to use its $87,500 in grant funding from LISC to help it launch a new “Community Solutions and Entrepreneurship Center,” designed to “help budding entrepreneurs get new businesses off the ground,” according to the center. 

The Boner Center will add a program where residents can earn certificates in apartment maintenance work, focused on electrical, HVAC, plumbing and interior and exterior building maintenance.

Southeast Community Services will add programs to train residents in transportation, distribution and logistics, manufacturing and construction trades. And Mary Rigg will add metalworking, control systems technology and Lean Certificates to its training offerings.

Grain told IBJ that the program expansions will allow people living in Indianapolis neighborhoods to not just get jobs—but start careers.

“A lot of folks right now can get a job,” Grain said. “The question is whether they can get a good job. We define that as an $18-per-hour job with health benefits, a living wage.”

He said offering the training to residents “offers a chance to folks to not just get any job but have a chance to have meaningful employment that pays the bills and is sufficient to raise a family.”

Each of the four Indianapolis sites are already Centers for Working Families. United Way of Central Indiana, which invests $1.4 million annually in Indianapolis’ 12 Centers for Working Families, said the LISC and Citi Foundation grant would allow them to expand their existing work providing families financial coaching at the four sites.

“It really is building out a system for families to build pathways to self-sufficiency,” said Sara VanSlambrook, chief impact officer for United Way.

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