Grant to Fund Scholarships, Art at Training Hotel

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Arc of Indiana Foundation Executive Director Kim Dodson says the institute will "change the lives" of its participants. Arc of Indiana Foundation Executive Director Kim Dodson says the institute will "change the lives" of its participants.

The Arc of Indiana Foundation has received a $250,000 grant from the Fort Wayne-based AWS Foundation to support the Erskine Green Training Institute in Muncie. The funding will support commissioned artwork at the Courtyard by Marriott Muncie associated with the $20 million project, as well as scholarships and an impact assessment.

The institute, touted as the first of its kind in the nation, is set to open in January and will provide hotel, food service and health care industry training for people with disabilities.

The downtown hotel is connected to the Horizon Convention Center and is poised to train around 200 Hoosiers per year.

Executives broke ground last October on the project, which includes the 150-room hotel and a Thr3e Wise Men restaurant. The institutes training partners include the state and city, Convention Center, Muncie-Delaware County Economic Development Alliance, Courtyard by Marriott, General Hotels Corp., Schmidt Associates and A Pots and Pans Production, which owns the Scottie's Brewhouse and Thr3e Wise Men locations.

AWS Foundation Interim Chief Executive Officer Patti Hays says, "We're pleased to award this grant to provide scholarships for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This training offers real-life job skills that will help individuals compete in the job market and increase employment opportunities. Having a job leads to higher self-esteem, an opportunity for independence, and greater community inclusion. For employers, studies show there are business benefits of employing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities as well. It’s a win for everyone involved."

The Arc of Indiana Foundation Executive Director Kim Dodson calls the AWS Foundation support "generous" and says "we will be able to offer scholarships to students to attend the Erskine Green Training Institute. In addition, the grant will provide commissions to artists with disabilities whose art work will grace rooms at the Courtyard Muncie at Horizon Convention Center. And finally, thanks to their support, funding will be available for ongoing research and data collection to follow students after they leave the institute and enter the job market."

A Ball State University study suggests, for every 200 people that go through the institute over four years, $5 million would be put back into the home area economies of participants.

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