Ascend Indiana announces youth apprenticeship awards to establish a network of postsecondary career pathways for students in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 29, 2021) – Ascend Indiana, the talent and workforce development initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), has announced awards of $115,000 each to bolster three regional youth apprenticeship efforts in Indiana. Through generous support from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Ascend is working alongside the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) at New America to provide financial and technical support through the Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator (Accelerator) initiative. PAYA is a national consortium of organizations supporting states and cities in their efforts to expand access to high-quality apprenticeship opportunities for high school-aged youth.

Ascend will provide seed funding and technical assistance to Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (Indiana Uplands), OptIN/Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Foundation (Southern Indiana), and Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement (Hamilton County) to advance a high-quality and scalable youth apprenticeship system in the state. These awardeeswill join current pilot efforts underway through Central Indiana Modern Apprenticeship (led by EmployIndy) and CareerWise Elkhart County (led by Horizon Education Alliance) to build on this momentum and establish a connected youth apprenticeship network in the state.

“Ascend is extremely grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for their support of the Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator, which launched in June to develop a coordinated ecosystem that provides all students across the state, in both urban and rural areas, with additional opportunities to obtain necessary skills for today’s workforce,” said Jason Kloth, president and CEO of Ascend Indiana. “Through awards to regions including Southern Indiana, Indiana Uplands, and Central Indiana, Ascend seeks to strengthen the connections between students and employers in order to build a robust talent pipeline to meet local hiring needs.”

Throughout the country and in Indiana, youth apprenticeships are gaining momentum as a postsecondary option for young people that provides them with the foundational skills, experiences, and credentials they need to thrive in a rapidly changing economy. Youth apprentices start in their junior year of high school and complete a 2-3 year program to prepare for in-demand careers in industries including information technology, financial services, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. Through a combination of classroom learning and paid, on-the-job training under the mentorship of a skilled employee, students earn their high school diplomas and industry-recognized credentials. They can also get postsecondary credits aligned to degree programs, which enable them to launch a career, pursue further higher education, or both.

Awardees will serve as intermediaries, receiving a combination of funding and technical assistance through September 2022 to support the launch or expansion of a youth apprenticeship pilot program in their region. In addition, awardees will work closely with national and state experts – including The Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, the Office of Work-Based Learning and Apprenticeship, the Indiana Department of Education, and the Commission for Higher Education – as well as learn alongside other regions that are designing and implementing these experiences. Ultimately, the Accelerator aims to enhance regional economies by developing postsecondary career pathways for youth and in-demand talent pipelines needed by employers. This network of youth apprenticeship pilots will lead hundreds of Indiana students to begin apprenticeships by the end of 2022.

“Through the generosity of Ascend Indiana and PAYA, we will be able to create comprehensive work-based learning pathways that will provide students the opportunity to earn high school credit, college credit and stackable credentials,” said Carrie Lively, executive director of the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement. “Students who complete these programs will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully transition onto post-secondary and into the workforce with the ability to succeed.”

About Ascend Indiana

Ascend Indiana is the talent and workforce development initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), an organization that brings together industry, higher education and philanthropic leaders to advance our region’s prosperity and growth. Ascend’s vision is for Indiana to be a place of economic opportunity for all. To achieve this, Ascend bridges talent and communication gaps by creating connectivity between people and employers. Ascend has focused its efforts around three core priorities: connecting job seekers to career opportunities through the Ascend Network talent platform, catalyzing transformative employer and education partnerships through Ascend Services, and informing workforce research and public policy through thought leadership. To learn more, visit

About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter.

About PAYA

Created by New America, the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) is a multi-year, multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to assist innovative organizations around the country in developing robust youth apprenticeship programs that are scaled and replicated to serve students, employers and communities alike. PAYA is comprised of eight National Partner organizations: Advance CTE, CareerWise Colorado, Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship, Education Strategy Group, JFF, the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, and the National Governors Association. PAYA is supported by funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Ballmer Group, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Joyce Foundation, JP Morgan Chase & Co., Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation, Siemens Foundation, the Smidt Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.

New America is dedicated to renewing the promise of America, bringing us closer to our nation’s highest ideals. We’re a different kind of think tank: one dedicated to public problem solving. Our team of visionary researchers, changemakers, technologists, and storytellers study and seize the opportunities presented by dramatic social and technological change. We search for powerful ideas, wherever they are, and collaborate with civic innovators around the country to develop evidence-based solutions. We work to achieve universal access to digital technology and its benefits across all communities; equitable, accessible, high-quality education, learning, and training over a lifetime; a society that provides economic opportunity for all; thriving families, individuals, and communities with the time, stability, and opportunity to lead self-directed lives; a secure and prosperous America that lives up to its values and commitments at home and abroad; and equal representation in politics and participation in accountable governance.

Quotes from Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator Awardees

Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement: “Part of the vision of the Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement (HCCCA) is to provide career pathways which are accessible to all students within the county. Through the generosity of Ascend Indiana and PAYA, HCCCA will be able to create comprehensive work-based learning pathways that will provide students the opportunity to earn high school credit, college credit and stackable credentials. Students who complete these programs, will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully transition onto post-secondary and into the workforce with the ability to succeed. HCCCA is focused initially on developing comprehensive work-based learning pathways in manufacturing and healthcare, and we are excited to begin the collaboration with Ascend Indiana and other partners across the state.”

Carrie Lively, Executive Director, Hamilton County Center for Career Achievement

OptIN: “The Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation’s OptIN program, in partnership with the Southern Indiana Career and Technical Center, is honored to have been selected for the Modern Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator. We are excited to work closely with Ascend Indiana to scale and deepen youth apprenticeship opportunities throughout Southwestern Indiana, which we believe will lead to improved opportunities and outcomes for all Hoosier students."

B. J. Watts, Executive Director, OptIN

Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.: “Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI) is excited to be selected for the Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator award that will serve to accelerate the implementation of ROI's UpSkill Work and Learn Initiative and the region’s industry cluster strategies. UpSkill is a regionally relevant, demand driven response to the rapidly advancing workforce needs of key sector employers in the Uplands. Over the past five years, ROI has been deliberate in building a strong foundation with employers, K12 schools, and postsecondary institutions that positions ROI to help bridge the gap between K12 and high opportunity careers through authentic work-based learning opportunities. This opportunity from Ascend Indiana and Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) comes at the right time for students and employers in the Indiana Uplands region.”

Tina Peterson, President & CEO, Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.