The initiative created by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett designed to increase postsecondary education opportunities for residents has unveiled a new, three-year strategic plan. Indy Achieves, which is operated through EmployIndy, says the plan will help to remove barriers to education by increasing the flow of information between residents and institutions, increasing support for students as they transition to postsecondary education, and create a clear pathway for adults to skill up and complete credentials or degrees.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Indy Achieves Executive Director Matt Impink said the plan includes a more purposeful approach to helping adult learners.
“We see that as a huge growth opportunity for more Indy Achieves students,” said Impink. “A lot of traditional-age students have a lot of the higher ed pipeline built around them already and we see a lot of opportunity to really support those working adults, non-traditional-age students, that can continue to really need some unique support, some unique approaches to get more of those individuals the education and training that they need.”
Indy Achieves, which was created in 2018, says at the end of 2020, more than half of Marion County residents who applied for unemployment insurance had no postsecondary degrees or credentials.
Impink says there are several ways Indy Achieves plans to work with adult learners, including working with the network of adult education systems throughout the city.
“If you want to get what used to be called a GED, what we now call a High School Equivalency or HSE, you can go to various providers across the city,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of really low-hanging fruit that we can access there to work with these adult learners through those existing partners.”
Impink says the initiative will also work to improve upon its existing text message-based mentorship program that was launched in 2019. Additionally, the plan will target working adults looking to improve their skills to give a boost to their career or find a new one.
Since its inception, Indy Achieves has worked with Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis and IUPUI to help provide more seamless pathways to postsecondary education through scholarships and completion grants.
In addition to the growing focus on adult learners, Impink says the plan will continue to focus on current students as early as seventh and eighth grade to get more enrolled in the 21st Century Scholars program, which can provide full tuition support upon completion.
“If you can get enrolled by the end of eighth grade, which is required by state law, you can receive a full tuition scholarship once you graduate high school to a public college or university in the state of Indiana,” said Impink. “So whether or not a student signs up in seventh or eighth grade is a huge inflection point to whether or not they can get the financial aid support that they need to ultimately succeed in postsecondary.”
Impink says Indy Achieve has been working to improve the data infrastructure to better understand who is eligible and can benefit from programs such as 21st Century Scholars.
“There’s a lot of students who are really left out of the pipeline for fair fixable reasons if we can figure out what situations students are in in a proactive manner,” he said.
You can view the executive summary of the Indy Achieves Strategic Plan below and you can connect to the full plan by clicking here.
Impink says the plan includes a more purposeful approach to helping adult learners.