A Central Indiana Corporate Partnership effort to bridge the talent gap has received $2.4 million in funding. Ascend Indiana says the funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. and the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust will be used in part to push its new cloud-based Ascend Network platform, designed to combine algorithms and human interaction to match young talent to jobs and internships. Ascend has also announced it is working with Community Health Network and education partners to address issues including opioid addiction treatment and a nursing shortage.

During an interview to air this weekend on Inside INdiana Business With Gerry Dick, Ascend Indiana Chief Executive Officer Jason Kloth and Beth Sims with Community Health Network discuss the new funding and partnerships.

Ascend’s model is to work with employers struggling to find talent to more specifically identify the number of available roles and the required knowledge and skills for each position. They then work work education partners to develop curricula, training programs and career pathways. Students can receive financial incentives, work experiences and potential jobs for taking part in the employer program.

The other Community Health partnership is being funded by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation to help create a behavioral health program focusing on opioid addiction treatment. The effort is expected to result in up to 30 new behavioral health professionals annually, serving 3,000 more Hoosier patients per year.

The Ascend Network is still in its pilot phase, which runs through the year. The organization says the goal is to "humanize" the job search process by creating more connections between employers and early-in-career job seekers. The process involves candidates filling out an interest form, meeting with an Ascend representative and completing a network profile to connect them with job and internship opportunities in their areas of interest. Ascend says, so far, the pilot phase includes more than 70 partners and 14 higher education institutes. It has involved more than 12,000 candidates and over 1,500 one-on-one interviews.