Ascend Indiana awards $700,000 to four sites

Funds will pilot youth apprenticeship programs


INDIANAPOLIS ­— Ascend Indiana, the talent and workforce development initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, announced Tuesday the award of $175,000 each to four sites to launch youth apprenticeship pilots in their local communities.

Funding for these pilot programs comes from the support of the Walton Family Foundation and is administered by Ascend Indiana through the CICP Foundation. The four sites, located in Southern, East Central and West Central Indiana, serve 29 counties and include:

• Eastern Indiana Works (Muncie) + East Central Education Service Center (New Castle),

• Southern Indiana Education Center (Jasper),

• Southern Indiana Works (New Albany), and

• West Central Indiana Career and Technical Education Center (Crawfordsville).

These sites are part of the Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator, which Ascend launched in 2021 to expand work-based learning programs and to develop a coordinated education-to-career ecosystem that provides all students across the state, in both urban and rural areas, with additional opportunities to obtain the necessary skills for today’s workforce. With the addition of these newly awarded sites, the Indiana Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator now includes eight sites serving 42 Indiana counties.

“These four sites have identified industries and career pathways that are meaningful to their local communities, and I am eager to see their programs become available to local students and employers,” said Brad Rhorer, president and CEO of Ascend Indiana. “Indiana is leading the nation in building a system to support the development and delivery of youth apprenticeship programs statewide and these sites are part of that statewide movement.”

Throughout the country and in Indiana, youth apprenticeships are gaining momentum across the country and in Indiana, providing students and adult learners with access to high-quality education and training options. This initiative aims to help all Hoosiers discover their passions, reach their fullest potential and contribute meaningfully to the economic and civic vitality of their communities. Youth apprentices start in their junior year of high school and complete a two to three year program to prepare for in-demand careers in a variety of industries including information technology, financial services, healthcare and advanced manufacturing. Through a combination of classroom learning and paid, on-the-job training under the mentorship of a skilled employee, students earn their high school diplomas and industry-recognized credentials. They can also gain postsecondary credits aligned to degree programs, which enable them to launch a career, pursue further higher education, or both.

Each Youth Apprenticeship Accelerator site has collaborated with local employers and education partners and drawn on regional data to identify occupations that are significant for regional growth. Key occupations and fields of interest among the four newly awarded sites are in healthcare, advanced manufacturing, information technology and education.

West Central Indiana Career and Technical Education Center, which serves Montgomery and Boone counties, plans to use its funds to focus on the healthcare pathway as a foundation for building out a more robust Pre-Nursing Youth Apprenticeship experience.

“As we embark on the launch phase of our journey into the youth apprenticeship program, we are grateful to the Walton Family Foundation for their generosity and to Ascend Indiana for their invaluable guidance throughout the process,” stated WCICTE adminstrators in a written statement. “Youth apprenticeship programs represent an investment in our youth, our communities, and the future workforce. Through collaboration with our partners, our aim is to empower students with the skills, experiences, and opportunities for success in an ever-evolving workplace and healthcare system. As this new phase of training students begins, we are excited to build on our momentum from the design phase and start making a tangible impact.”