ROI launching graduation and career coaching initiative in Southwest Central Indiana school districts

Initiative aimed at improving graduation rates and increasing the number of students
pursuing post-secondary education.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc. (ROI), has announced its
first education initiative to support economic and community prosperity in the Southwest Central Indiana region. ROI, in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington, is launching a pilot graduation and career coaching program in six public school districts. This is the first in a series of significant education and workforce initiatives that will be implemented in our region in the coming months and years.

The graduation and career coaching program is aimed at improving graduation rates
and preparing students for pathways into technical certifications, associate degrees,
and other postsecondary degree programs.

“There are exceptional opportunities in our region for young people to excel in the
workforce,” said ROI Interim CEO Tina Peterson. “Our regional employers are hungry
for qualified job applicants who possess the work ethic and skill set required for quality jobs in life sciences, defense, advanced manufacturing and more.
“These opportunities are unreachable, however, for students who do not graduate from high school and have not prepared themselves for success after school. If Southwest Central Indiana is to achieve its potential, we need these young people to achieve their potential, too, and we have a plan to help.”

Beginning with the 2016-17 academic year, five new graduation and career coaches willwork with high school and middle school students in Bloomfield School District,
Crawford County Community Schools, Loogootee Community Schools, Salem
Community Schools, Spencer-Owen Community Schools and Washington Community
Schools. These coaches complement two existing coaches in Monroe County
Community School Corporation and Richland-Bean Blossom Community School
Corporation that are partially funded by the Franklin Initiative.

Working closely with school administrators and counseling teams, coaches will support targeted groups of students most at-risk for not attaining high school diplomas.

“We are thrilled to have been selected for this timely initiative,” said Salem Community Schools Superintendent Lynn Reed. “Salem is a growing community and the demand for quality employees is increasing. Our new graduation and career coach will not only provide support to students at-risk for not graduating from high school, but will also assist students in developing the necessary soft skills to be successful in the workforce.”

Coaches will work with students to create individualized high school completion plans, develop opportunities for students to experience and participate in work-based learning initiatives, and develop postsecondary plans. They will also help ensure students attend school, arrive on time, fulfill academic requirements and graduate with a high school diploma.

In conjunction with regional industry representatives and postsecondary institutions,
coaching activities may also include career learning activities such as mock interviews, financial literacy training, soft skill training, and college or industry visits.
“Employers in Southwest Central Indiana welcome the news of career coaching in our
schools,” said Radius Indiana President and CEO Becky Skillman. “We have an urgent
need to grow the workforce to allow many companies to expand. Students who are
prepared for the workforce will find unlimited opportunities, and our region of the state will prosper.”

In 2014, leaders from across Southwest Central Indiana (SWCI) came together for the
purpose of improving the economic and community prosperity in the region. The
Southwest Central Indiana steering committee commissioned a study from Battelle
Technology Partnership Practice to assist in identifying the region’s assets, challenges
and opportunities for growth. Educational attainment was identified as a key area for
improvement. In the region, 14 percent of adults do not have a high school diploma.
Over 36 percent of adults possess a high school diploma or equivalency, but do not
pursue secondary education.

“Currently, only about 32 percent of our region’s population 25+ have attained some
form of post-secondary credential,” said ROI Director of Education and Workforce Todd Hurst. “We have a long way to go to achieve the goal of 60 percent post-secondary credentialing set by the State of Indiana and Lumina Foundation. While this data indicates that there is a lot of opportunity to address attainment among the current adult population, it also indicates that we must change the paradigm for the next generation as well to make sure every student has a path toward a well-paying, fulfilling career in our region.”

ROI is providing funding, professional development, leadership and coordination of the initiative in partnership with Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington, which will recruit, hire and supervise the seven graduation and career coaches.

“Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington is thrilled to partner with the Regional
Opportunity Initiatives, Inc., to advance educational attainment in our state for the
benefit of families and regional employers,” said Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor
Jennie Vaughan. “Through the implementation of graduation and career coaches, the
college is optimistic that Indiana’s high school completion, post-secondary certifications and degree attainment rates will improve.”

Fourteen school districts from across the 11-county region responded to the Request for Proposals for the pilot initiative. Selected schools will be involved in coach hiring
decisions as well as the administration and day-to-day interactions between students
and coaches.

The chosen districts represented programs with an identified need for support, the
capacity to provide the resources needed for implementation of the program, and a
districtwide commitment to improving outcomes for students. Graduation and career
coaches will work collaboratively with existing school staff, including counseling
professionals. They are not intended to replace current staffing and counselors, but will provide targeted resources to improve academic outcomes for a set of students
identified by the school for participation. Graduation and career coaches are expected
to serve multiple schools in the region. With an average caseload of 55-60 students
supported, ROI expects to impact 400 students in the region who might otherwise have been at risk of dropping out of school or of graduating unprepared for success after high school.

The strategy for ROI’s graduation and career coaching initiative was developed after
studying two other regional coaching initiatives: The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce Franklin Initiative’s graduation coaches and Ivy Tech College Connection Coaches. The Franklin Initiative has funded coaches in Bloomington since 1999. Of the 210 students participating in 2014, 97 percent graduated from high school. Graduation rates in Bloomington have improved by 10 percent since 2007. Ivy Tech’s Career Connection Coaches launched in 2014 in Vanderburgh, Perry and Parke Counties.

Ivy Tech is currently hiring coaches for the pilot. View the Graduation and Career Coach job description (available online Monday, June 13) for information on how to apply.

About Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc.:
Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc., (ROI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
established to advance economic and community prosperity in the 11-county region of
Southwest Central Indiana, including Brown, Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene,
Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and Washington counties. Through an initial $25,870,000 grant through Lilly Endowment Inc., ROI is implementing an education and workforce plan as well as a regional opportunity fund for quality-of-place investments.

About Southwest Central Indiana:
Southwest Central Indiana (SWCI) is an 11-county area that encompasses Brown,
Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Orange, Owen and
Washington counties.

The counties of SWCI have been working together to leverage the region’s unique
assets, including life sciences, defense and advanced manufacturing sectors; the third
largest naval base in the world in NSWC Crane; a world-class education and research
institution in Indiana University, and natural and entertainment amenities.

A strategic plan was developed in 2014 that focuses on six interconnected strategies:
regionalism, workforce development and education, economic development,
infrastructure, entrepreneurship, and R&D technology transfer. Read the complete
SWCI Strategic Plan.

Ivy Tech Bloomington to host Mandela Fellows from 18 African countries

BLOOMINGTON – Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus will host 25 African Fellows from 18 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa June 22-24, 2016. The visitors are Fellows of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a program of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative.

Indiana University was selected as a partner university to host Mandela Fellows and provide a six-week academic and leadership institute with a focus on civic engagement. As part of the institute, Ivy Tech will provide three days of civic engagement activities and organized networking opportunities on campus and in the community.

“The Fellows are all civic leaders with proven records of creating positive change in their organizations and communities,” said Jennie Vaughan, Ivy Tech Bloomington Chancellor. “Ivy Tech is proud to host them on campus and will help connect them with local professionals in their fields of interest.”

On Wednesday, June 22 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Fellows will learn about the purpose and mission of a comprehensive community college system. The session will be hosted by Ivy Tech Bloomington’s academic leadership.

On Thursday, June 23 from 9:00 a.m. to noon, Fellows will attend a panel discussion on the role of non-profits, and entrepreneurial thinking to solve community problems. The panel includes Jeff Baldwin, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington and Ellettsville; Barry Lessow, CEO, United Way of Monroe County; and Beverly Calendar-Anderson, City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department. From noon to 5:00 p.m the Fellows will tour the Monroe County Court House and learn justice and legal issues affecting our community and meet with Judges Galvin, Kellams, Diekhoff, and Todd.

On Friday, Jue 24 from 9:00 to 10:45 a.m., Fellows will attend a panel discussion on the role of community colleges in workforce development. Panelists include Shannon Laurent, Partner, CLJ Associates; Dr. Diana Smith Nixon, Assistant Professor, School of Computing and Informatics, Ivy Tech Community College; Jeryl Schulenburg, Senior Human Resources Generalist, Cook Incorporated; and Kara Zemlyak, Human Resources Generalist, Cook Pharmica. From 11 a.m. to noon, Fellows will meet with Ivy Tech faculty, staff, and students in Fellows’ areas of interest or expertise. Friday’s activities will conclude in entrepreneurship discussion and tours with Tyler Henke, Founder of Co-Work Bloomington and Linda Williamson, Interim Director of City of Bloomington Economic & Sustainable Development. Fellows will tour entrepreneurial spaces in Bloomington and the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center.

The Fellows are from diverse areas of expertise including medicine, communications, political science, law, social work, business, gender studies, architecture, educational administration, mechanical engineering, economics, information systems, accounting, marketing, and international cooperation and development. Their home countries include Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia (2), Gabon, Guinea-Conakry, Kenya (2), Madagascar, Malawi, Nigeria (3), Senegal, South Africa (2), Sudan (2), Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, and Zimbabwe (2).

Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington fall classes begin August 22 but students should enroll before August 12. Visit or visit campus, located at 200 Daniels Way on the west side of Bloomington. Questions? Call (812) 330-6013.

Cook Group partners with Ivy Tech Bloomington and Broadview Learning

Bloomington, Ind. – On Friday, June 17, Cook Group, Monroe County Community Schools Adult Education at Broadview Learning Center and Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington announced their partnership to create a new pathway between education and jobs in our community. According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 737,000 Hoosiers have some college experience, but did not complete a degree. Cook’s education initiatives are designed to provide employees a pathway toward new career opportunities.

“Business is constantly changing and we want to provide our current and future employees the opportunity to evolve with us,” said Pete Yonkman, president of Cook Medical and Cook Group. “We recently redesigned our education assistance program to eliminate financial barriers so employees can increase their education and career opportunities with company support.”

Part of the redesigned education program includes a collaboration with Ivy Tech Bloomington called Achieve Your Degree. At no cost to the employee, this program allows participants to earn a certificate in seven programs including biotechnology, business administration, hospitality and various computing and informatics tracks. They can also continue their education by earning an Associate degree in these curricula developed for Cook.

“The partnership between Ivy Tech Bloomington and Cook is really a win-win,” said Jennie Vaughan, Chancellor of Ivy Tech Bloomington. “We have had success with the Achieve Your Degree program with other companies and are excited to expand the program to Cook.”

The partnership with Ivy Tech Bloomington is just one example of the new education initiatives within Cook. In addition to higher education, Cook has worked with Broadview Learning Center to develop a program for employees to work part-time while they pursue their High School Equivalency (HSE).

Individuals in Southwest Central Indiana interested in working at Cook who do not have a high school diploma or HSE will be eligible to participate in the program after successfully completing the preemployment screening process. After attending the free seven-week preparatory class at Ivy Tech, then taking and passing the Test Assessing Secondary Completion to obtain their HSE, individuals will become eligible for a full-time position at Cook.

“More than 5,000 adults in Monroe County do not have a high school diploma or equivalency,” said Rob Moore, director of adult education at Broadview Learning Center. “For many, the lack of this credential is a barrier to employment in jobs that pay wages sufficient to support a family. We are excited about our partnership to create opportunities at Cook for those who previously did not qualify for employment.”

“We want to keep hardworking and talented people in Indiana by creating opportunities for career advancement,” said Yonkman. “Making education accessible and attainable provides stability for Cook employees and their families which can lead to career growth within the organization. We believe that lifelong learning is not only good for individuals, but also their families and communities.”

About Cook Medical
Since 1963 Cook Medical has worked closely with physicians to develop technologies that eliminate the need for open surgery. Today we are combining medical devices, biologic materials and cellular therapies to help the world’s healthcare systems deliver better outcomes more efficiently. We have always remained family owned so that we have the freedom to focus on what we care about: patients, our employees and our communities. Find out more at, and for the latest news, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

About Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington
Ivy Tech Community College Bloomington ( was established in 2001 and opened in 2002. Though the region has a six-county service area including Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Monroe, Morgan and Owen counties, it serves students from nearly all Indiana counties. Ivy Tech Bloomington enrolls approximately 6,200 students per semester, up from 2,600 when it opened. In 2007, the campus was named the third-fastest growing community college in the nation according to Community College Week. Ivy Tech Bloomington recently expanded its main campus and named the new space the Cook Pavilion. The Cook Pavilion contains a new library, bookstore, lecture hall, culinary wing, outdoor patio space, a Bloomingfoods café, and additional classrooms and labs, including an advanced automation and robotics technology lab.

About Broadview Learning Center
Broadview Learning Center ( is the adult education program through Monroe County Community School Corporation. The Center provides courses for students preparing for the Indiana High School Equivalency Diploma, which can be earned after completing a test in five subject areas (math, reading, writing, science and social studies). The skills taught and eventually tested on are at the same level as those of graduating high school seniors. The program also has courses to help adults learn English as a Second Language and prepare to enter postsecondary education, job training, and employment.