JPMorgan Chase invests $1M in IPS high-schoolers for work opportunities

JPMorgan Chase is investing $1 million to increase work-based learning opportunities for Indianapolis Public Schools high school students, the company announced Wednesday.

The financial institution said it would partner with IPS, local workforce development agency EmployIndy and national not-for-profit Jobs for the Future, or JFF, to “develop critical infrastructure” and engage more employers in helping IPS students find pathways to possible career opportunities.

More than 2,000 IPS students are expected to take part in work-based learning about high-demand industries through the program. 

Those work-based learning opportunities include access to career talks, tours of local employers, job-shadowing and internships, which officials hope will eventually lead to more students obtaining jobs in those industries.

“Our rapidly-changing economy requires new skills to meet the growing needs of companies across the region,” Al Smith, chairman of JPMorgan Chase in Indiana, said in a written statement. “This public-private collaboration will create economic opportunity and career mobility. It’s an investment in Indianapolis’ most valuable resource―our vibrant student population that will be better prepared to compete for well-paying careers and bright futures.”

IPS said JPMorgan’s investment was the largest investment by a single donor to an IPS post-secondary program.

Aleesia Johnson, interim IPS superintendent, said quality work-based learning opportunities provide students with “employability skills necessary to succeed beyond high school, in whatever path they choose.”

“The generous investment by JPMorgan Chase will support the efforts of IPS and EmployIndy to ensure that all IPS students have access to meaningful work-based learning opportunities, and that employers have the ability to engage with our students—the future of our workforce,” Johnson said in written comments.

EmployIndy has been working with IPS to connect students to employers since 2017, and CEO Angela Carr Klitzsch said the investment from JPMorgan Chase would “establish essential infrastructure for EmployIndy to scale work-based learning in a robust and complex workforce development ecosystem.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett said the program was important because as early as next year, 62 percent of the jobs available in Indianapolis will require some type of post-secondary education, but only 42 percent of Indianapolis residents meet that requirement.

The program will "go a long way toward helping us close that gap," he said.

The investment from JPMorgan Chase follows IPS’s creation of a new high school model, which launched at the beginning of the year. 

Under the model, students choose their school based on what they want to study, instead of being "districted" to a certain school close to where they live. 

The goal is to help students graduate and pursue one of three options: enrolling in a two- or four-year college, enlisting in the armed services, or becoming employed at a livable wage.

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