Lilly Endowment has made an $8 million grant to the Ivy Tech Foundation to support Ivy Tech Community College’s new statewide Career Coaching and Employer Connection (CCEC) program. This new, more strategic approach will emphasize comprehensive career readiness practices working alongside academic preparation throughout a student’s college experience. The new approach will transform Ivy Tech’s current Career Development structure and programs to focus on intentional career advising and employer engagement.
“We are extremely grateful and honored for the investment the Lilly Endowment has made in Ivy Tech and our students,” Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann said. “We have heard employers and have designed this program to ensure our graduates leave Ivy Tech career-ready, enter into available high-value, high-demand careers within local industry, and earn family-sustaining wages.”
The new career and employer-related support infrastructure is based on the study of best practices from 2- and 4-year institutions across America and in collaboration with Ascend Indiana, the talent and workforce development initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership. Ivy Tech and Ascend evaluated the current employer experience with a series of employer satisfaction surveys, focus groups, and employer stakeholder discussions with industry partners representing Indiana’s high-demand, high-wage economic sectors. Employers expressed a desire to find meaningful ways to partner with Ivy Tech to hire talent and to engage with students, and expressed a high level of interest in industry-targeted career fairs, mentorships, resume reviews, mock interviews, and coordinated high school visits.
“Lilly Endowment is impressed with the quality of thought and planning that has resulted in this strategic new approach to help Ivy Tech’s students prepare for and find meaningful careers in Indiana,” said Ted Maple, Lilly Endowment’s vice president for education. “As Indiana’s community college network, Ivy Tech plays a pivotal role in helping its more than 160,000 students prepare for fulfilling careers and in helping ensure that Indiana employers have qualified employees so that their businesses can prosper in Indiana. We are especially pleased that Ivy Tech developed its new approach with much input from Indiana employers.”
Students will have a markedly different experience within this new approach. Each goal and supporting structure along the student pathway will align with best practice research and will be intentionally incorporated to help students secure meaningful career and wage outcomes. In direct response to students’ insights during focus groups, career readiness activities will be required and inextricably intertwined with students’ academic plans and coursework.
“Ivy Tech is an incredibly important institution for our state’s economic vitality,” said Jason Kloth, president and CEO, Ascend Indiana. “Their commitment to applying best practices to more effectively meet the needs of their students and employers is commendable. We are excited to work alongside Ivy Tech to integrate into their strategy the Ascend Network, a unique platform that uses software and a team of Ascend staff to guide students through their internship and job search process, and connect them with employers across the state.”
Each student will have a required career action plan that has iterative milestones every 15 credit hours, including resume development, interview preparation, employer engagement, and embedded “work and learn” experiences within their career focus.
“As the state’s Community College we are focused on aligning our programs with the needs of our state’s workforce,” Ivy Tech Senior Vice President for Workforce and Career Chris Lowery said. “This grant will help provide the resources needed to help guide our students into careers which are needed most in Indiana, both today and in the future.”
The most significant anticipated outcomes will be tied to Ivy Tech’s five-year metrics, including movement of student completions to high-wage, high-demand programs, and wages earned after graduation. Additionally, as Ivy Tech better supports students in career readiness, post-graduation results will attract students to programs related to high-wage, high-demand career paths.
Implementation of these strategies will result in a clear and meaningful pathway for students to and through Ivy Tech that equips them with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive. Skilled graduates will enter high-demand, high-wage careers, ultimately enhancing the Hoosier workforce, economy, and communities across the state.
The College will roll out the new model through a phased approach over four years. The first phase commenced last fall with six campuses: Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend/Elkhart, Kokomo, Sellersburg, and Madison. Student-facing activities will begin in the spring of 2020.
Ivy Tech will receive $5 million over the first three years of the grant and is eligible to receive an additional $3 million contingent on Ivy Tech securing at least $3 million for the new approach from other external sources.
In addition to Lilly Endowment, Ivy Tech has received support to establish CCEC from several other organizations that include: Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Central Indiana Community Foundation, Glick Fund, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Garatoni-Smith Family Foundation, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and Salesforce.