Greater Lafayette Commerce says it plans to use a nearly $5 million grant from the Indiana Department of Education to create a new accelerator program. The nonprofit economic and workforce development organization says the program is designed to help students overcome hurdles caused by the pandemic and graduate from high school ready for a career and continued education.

The organization says it will use the funding to provide students access to career coaches, social workers, mentors, tutors and college-level courses.

“In the short-term, this grant will provide a much-needed element of support to area schools seeking to help students recover from learning loss caused by the pandemic,” said Kara Webb, director of workforce development for Greater Lafayette Commerce. “This grant isn’t about choosing college or career. It’s about both. When students walk across the graduation stage, we want their coursework to have prepared them to enter the workforce and continue their education.”

The funding includes $850,000 in subgrants that will be awarded to local manufacturing and logistics employers to develop stackable credentials. West Lafayette-based education technology company Skyepack will work with recipients to develop the credentials.

“Traditionally, students couldn’t realize the full value of education until they completed a degree,” Webb said. “For some students, two to four years was simply too long to wait. Micro-credentialing makes students more hirable and increases their earning potential in as little as one semester.”

GLC says GPA and standardized test scores will not prevent students from gaining early access to dual credit coursework, and they will also have the chance to participate in a summer accelerator program.

The grant was awarded as part of the IDOE’s Student Learning Recovery Grant Program.