EmployIndy boosting youth employment efforts

INDIANAPOLIS - The Lilly Endowment Inc. approved $5.2 million in grants to EmployIndy to help the workforce development board for Marion County remove barriers young people face while trying to gain quality employment.

One grant is worth $3 million, which will fund a thorough plan to reach younger people so they can learn about employment options and get their careers of the ground.

There are an estimated 30,000 youth and young adults, ages 16 to 24, who are disconnected from education and employment in central Indiana, according to EmployIndy. It says it happens for a variety of reasons, such as homelessness, criminal history, lack of family support and inadequate access to job training.

The goal is to reach 6,000 of the young people in the next two years, and as many as 15,000 people over a five-year span.

The remaining $2.2 million will support EmployIndy's Youth Employment Services (YES) program. The Lilly Endowment first started funding the program in 2003. Since then, it's helped 5,570 low-income individuals to complete their education, secure jobs and boost work skills.

"These grants will enable EmployIndy to help expand and enhance the efforts of youth-serving organizations to improve significantly the employment prospects of youth in our community - especially those most in need of job skills and resources," said Angela Car Klitzsch, the president and CEO of EmployIndy. "We are particularly grateful for Lilly Endowment's support of our strategic efforts to help young people living in the city's highest-need neighborhoods."

There are 11 community-based organizations, such as Keys to Work, which work with young people through the YES program.

Keys to Work president, Jannett Keesling said her organization currently has a handful of people working at her recycling center. The goal is to have 23 people employed in the summer thanks to the additional funds.

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