Ascend Indiana has raised more than $23 million to enhance its Ascend Network job platform and expand statewide. The online platform helps job seekers find work, internships or training opportunities in Indiana with open positions from employers throughout the state. “This funding is really going to enable us to reach a fundamentally different scale statewide in supporting thousands more individuals and employers,” said Ascend Chief Executive Officer Jason Kloth.

Kloth and Roche Diagnostics Head of People and Culture Bridget Boyle discussed the expansion on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick.

“[The funding is] going to enable us to expand that network beyond our current effort, which is supporting approximately 550 employers in central Indiana,” said Kloth. “We’ve been able to provide one-on-one career navigation to more than 12,000 individuals, securing 20,000 applications to Indiana employers and ultimately connecting more than 2,500 of those to work-based learning opportunities and jobs.”

The Ascend Network platform allows the organization to profile companies and their internships, apprenticeships and job opportunities with details on the technical skills and workstyle requirements for each.

“We then partner with higher education institutions, community-based organizations; we meet with those job seekers and we capture those technical skill and workstyle preferences,” said Kloth. “Then ultimately, because we’re gathering that information, we help make a match and a connection. Think of it as the E-Harmony for jobs here in Indiana.”

Ascend Indiana is the talent initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. The funding was led by a nearly $13 million lead grant from Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment Inc. and also included contributions from 45 employers, community partners and other local and national philanthropies. 

Boyle says the Ascend Network has been a major benefit for the Roche Diagnostic workforce.

“We’re getting nearly half of our college student candidates from Ascend now for our internship programs and entry-level hires,” said Boyle. “They also focus on diverse hires and so obviously, they know that is a priority for us is that we want to grow the diversity in our organization and they have a much broader reach than we would have on our own.”

Kloth adds nearly half of the people that have received support through the Ascend Network come from underrepresented backgrounds.