Ascend Indiana awards $700,000 to four regional sites to pilot youth apprenticeship programs in local communities


INDIANAPOLIS (July 9, 2024) – Ascend Indiana, the talent and workforce development initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), announced today the award of $175,000 each to four sites to launch youth apprenticeship pilots in their local communities.

Funding for these pilot programs comes from the generous support of the Walton Family Foundation and is administered by Ascend Indiana through the CICP Foundation. The four sites, located in Southern, East Central and West Central Indiana, serve 29 counties and include:

  • Eastern Indiana Works (Muncie, Ind.) + East Central Education Service Center (New Castle, Ind.),
  • Southern Indiana Education Center (Jasper, Ind.),
  • Southern Indiana Works (New Albany, Ind.), and
  • West Central Indiana Career and Technical Education Center (Crawfordsville, Ind.).

These sites are part of the Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator, which Ascend launched in 2021 to expand work-based learning programs and to develop a coordinated education-to-career ecosystem that provides all students across the state, in both urban and rural areas, with additional opportunities to obtain the necessary skills for today’s workforce. With the addition of these newly awarded sites, the Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator now includes 8 sites serving 42 Indiana counties.

“These four sites have identified industries and career pathways that are meaningful to their local communities, and I am eager to see their programs become available to local students and employers,” said Brad Rhorer, president and CEO of Ascend Indiana. “Indiana is leading the nation in building a system to support the development and delivery of youth apprenticeship programs statewide and these sites are part of that statewide movement.”

Throughout the country and in Indiana, youth apprenticeships are gaining momentum across the country and in Indiana, providing students and adult learners with access to high-quality education and training options. This initiative aims to help all Hoosiers discover their passions, reach their fullest potential, and contribute meaningfully to the economic and civic vitality of their communities. Youth apprentices start in their junior year of high school and complete a 2-3 year program to prepare for in-demand careers in a variety of 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 gain postsecondary credits aligned to degree programs, which enable them to launch a career, pursue further higher education, or both.

Each Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator site has collaborated with local employers and education partners and drawn on regional data to identify occupations that are significant for regional growth. Key occupations and fields of interest among the four newly awarded sites are in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, information technology and education. (For more information about each site, including each site’s occupational focus and geographic reach, see below.)

Quotes and information for Youth Apprenticeship Pilot Programs:

  • Eastern Indiana Works (Muncie, Ind.) + East Central Education Service Center (New Castle, Ind.)
    • Geographic reach: Eastern Indiana (Bartholomew, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Franklin, Hancock, Henry, Johnson, Madison, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Wayne, Union counties)
    • Eastern Indiana Works and East Central Education Service Center plan to use their funds to create work-based learning opportunities in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, information technology and education.
    • Quote from Eastern Indiana Works + East Central Education Service Center: “Eastern Indiana Works and East Central Educational Service Center are excited to continue the work to implement our youth apprenticeship program CareerBoost - Learn.Work.Earn.Succeed. Thank you to the Walton Family Foundation and Ascend for all the support and funding this opportunity brings to our communities and the impact on our local and regional prosperity and this next generation of workers we develop.”
  • Southern Indiana Education Center (Jasper, Ind.)
    • Geographic reach: Southern Indiana (Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Knox, Lawrence, Martin, Orange, Perry, Pike, Posey, Spencer and Sullivan counties)
    • Southern Indiana Education Center plans to use its funds to focus on the healthcare industry due to the projected growth of this industry sector surpassing all other sectors in Southwest Indiana.
    • Quote from Southern Indiana Education Center: "The SIEC is thankful to the Walton Family Foundation and Ascend Indiana for funding youth apprenticeships in Southwest Indiana. The SIEC has launched Project Protege, our youth apprenticeship program, and is excited to work with employers, educators, & community leaders to shape the next generation of talent in Southwest Indiana."
  • Southern Indiana Works (New Albany, Ind.)
    • Geographic reach: Southern Indiana (Clark, Crawford, Floyd, Harrison, Scott, Washington counties)
    • Southern Indiana Works will initially focus on the healthcare industry and is actively engaged in discussions regarding pathways encompassing both information technology and business operations.
    • Quote from Southern Indiana Works: “Southern Indiana Works is grateful to the Walton Family Foundation and Ascend Indiana for the opportunity to launch youth apprenticeships in Southern Indiana. We are eager to bring this opportunity to local students. SIW is thankful for our team of partners that are helping to design the program and look forward to working with more businesses to develop youth apprenticeships to meet their talent needs.”
  • West Central Indiana Career and Technical Education Center (Crawfordsville, Ind.)
    • Geographic reach: West Central Indiana (Montgomery and Boone counties)
    • West Central Indiana Career and Technical Education Center plans to use its funds to focus on the healthcare pathway as a foundation for building out a more robust Pre-Nursing Youth Apprenticeship experience.
    • Quote from West Central Indiana Career and Technical Education Center: “As we embark on the launch phase of our journey into the youth apprenticeship program, we are grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for their generosity and to Ascend Indiana for their invaluable guidance throughout the process. Youth apprenticeship programs represent an investment in our youth, our communities, and the future workforce. Through collaboration with our partners, our aim is to empower students with the skills, experiences, and opportunities for success in an ever-evolving workplace and healthcare system. As this new phase of training students begins, we are excited to build on our momentum from the design phase and start making a tangible impact.”

About the Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator:

The Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator includes 8 sites covering 42 Indiana counties. Funding has been made available through the Walton Family Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA).The Accelerator comprises of two cohorts, with the first pilot programs from the first cohort being launched in 2021 after Ascend provided seed funding and technical assistance to Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (Indiana Uplands), OptIN/Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation Foundation (Southern Indiana), and The Pursuit Institute (Hamilton County) to advance high-quality and scalable youth apprenticeship systems in the state. The funding came from Bloomberg Philanthropies with support from Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA). These awardees joined EmployIndy’s pilot Modern Youth Apprenticeship Program. To date, nearly 500 youth have participated in a youth apprenticeship program, with 40 school partners and over 90 employers from various industries engaged across the state.

As part of the Accelerator, sites 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, the Commission for Higher Education, and CareerWise USA – as well as learn alongside other regions to implement their pilot programs. 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.

About Ascend Indiana

An initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership (CICP), Ascend Indiana is committed to making Indiana a place of economic opportunity for all. Ascend connects job seekers to good and promising career opportunities through an innovative job matching platform, the Ascend Network; catalyzes partnerships and provides consulting services to meet high-demand workforce needs through Ascend Services; and conducts research through Ascend Insights to enable systems-level change that positively impacts individuals throughout the state. To learn more, visit ascendindiana.com.

About The Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation is, at its core, a family-led foundation. Three generations of the descendants of our founders, Sam and Helen Walton, and their spouses, work together to lead the foundation and create access to opportunity for people and communities. We work in three areas: improving education, protecting rivers and oceans and the communities they support, and investing in our home region of Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas-Mississippi Delta. To learn more, visit waltonfamilyfoundation.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.