JPMorgan Chase to invest $7 million in Indianapolis career readiness initiatives

Indianapolis is among six cities across the country that will receive $7 million from JPMorgan Chase’s New Skills Ready Network to develop pathways and policy recommendations that give underserved students access to higher education and real-world work experiences intended to lead to high-wage jobs.

The funding is part of the firm’s $75 million global commitment to better prepare young people for jobs and a new $30 billion commitment “to advance racial equity and drive an inclusive economic recovery.” The funding will come over five years.

Other cities receiving the funding are Boston; Denver; Dallas; Columbus, Ohio; and Nashville, Tennessee.

The $7 million investment by Chase will call on Indianapolis Public Schools, Ivy Tech Community College of Central Indiana, IUPUI, Ascend Indiana and the Indiana Governor’s Workforce Cabinet to create systems that launch learners into good jobs in the region.

EmployIndy will lead local and state partners as part of the Indianapolis New Skills Ready Network to develop  pathways that start in high school and continue through postsecondary education. The goal is to help those underrepresented in jobs that provide a family sustaining wage–to ensure they persist in and complete pathways to earn a credential with labor market value.

“Recent local and statewide studies have shown that more than half of the net new jobs created will require a postsecondary credential for entry-level positions,” Angela Carr Klitzsch, president and CEO of EmployIndy, said in written comments. “To bridge this gap for the future, EmployIndy is working with key local education systems to drive systemic transformation to ensure quality career pathways, real-world experiences, and seamless transition to postsecondary education, while closing the equity gap for students.”

The vision is to expand and reinvent accessible career pathways for all IPS students and influence a career readiness framework and policies that can be implemented statewide. Existing career academies at some IPS schools already offer distinct pathways and programs that align to regional in-demand career opportunities.

“This partnership will support our effort to ensure all career academy pathways at IPS are high quality and that students have the support they need to succeed,” Aleesia Johnson, IPS superintendent, said in written comments. “It also will increase the number of district teachers who are credentialed and trained to teach college-level coursework.”

Klitzsch told IBJ an action plan for the funding is in place but is fluid given the five-year timeline. The overall goal that will guide how the money is spent is to strengthen the alignment and the rigor of career pathways beginning in middle school and through high school.

The group has four objectives for the funding:

– Spend the next year or so mapping the evolving labor marketplace to determine what existing pathway programs might need to sunset, be expanded or changed and what needs to be added.

– Expand Employ Indy’s Talent Bound Initiative, a work-based learning program that aims to enhance students’ educations and prepare them for careers by bringing industries inside schools or by sending students inside industries. The goal with Chase’s funding is to scale that program to create career-connected learning opportunities that start in middle school.

– Create seamless transitions to postsecondary success by eliminating or diminishing some of the barriers that stand in the way of students pursuing secondary education.

– Close equity gaps for Black and Latino students by looking at all investments and policy decisions through an equity lens.

“These funds provide us with the ability to invest in our students and in the future of our city,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in written comments. “Establishing high-quality career pathways allows for residents to advance into growing industries and secure promising jobs.”

The six cities will also be supported by two national partners: Advance CTE, the longest-standing national not-for-profit that represents state career technical education directors and state leaders of career technical education, and Education Strategy Group, a consulting firm focusing on strategies that help learners earn a postsecondary credential with value in the labor market.

Advance CTE will use $5 million from JPMorgan Chase to provide research and resources that support sites to meet the objectives of the initiative and turn lessons from the participating cities into tools and resources that can be accessed by a broader set of communities.

Education Strategy Group will use a $6 million investment from Chase to support the cities with high-quality technical assistance and cross-site learning and convening.

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