Regional Opportunity Initiatives Newsletter, November 2017

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In this issue:

  • Ready Schools visit student-run machine shop
  • Out-of-school STEM grants provide more high-quality learning opportunities for K-12 students
  • Regional schools awarded Lilly Endowment counseling grants
  • ROI collaborating on key issues facing Southwest Central Indiana
  • Skill UP! work-based learning provides authentic job experiences & soft skill development
  • Next Level Jobs to provide funding for Indiana workers and employers
  • ROI welcomes Brian D. Blackwell as Director of Industry and Quality of Place Initiatives
  • ROI adds Scott Johnson as Sector Specialist
  • Upcoming events in Southwest Central Indiana

Ready Schools visit student-run machine shop

Cardinal Manufacturing Tour
The ROI team and the 2017 cohort of Ready Schools recently joined the Center of Excellence in Leadership of Learning (CELL) for a visit to Cardinal Manufacturing at Eleva-Strum Schools in Strum, Wisconsin. Cardinal Manufacturing is a student-run machine shop that teaches students needed technical or soft skills. These high school students learn to manage a project and business. Designed as a vehicle to address the local skills gap in advanced manufacturing, Cardinal Manufacturing does welding, fabrication, and CNC machining for local companies and members of the community. Read more.


Out-of-school STEM grants provide more high-quality learning opportunities for K-12 students

Children Building Robotic Cars
Community foundations across Southwest Central Indiana are making a meaningful impact in addressing STEM skill shortages by providing Out-of-School STEM grants within their counties. In August ROI made $25,000 grants to each of the 11 community foundations of Southwest Central Indiana. Those grants are intended to support or develop high-quality out-of-school STEM programming for K-12 students.

Just as each community across Southwest Central Indiana is unique, each of the 11 community foundations took a distinct approach on how to best use funding within their county. Some foundations have taken a proactive approach and purposefully granted dollars to schools and non-profits to support existing STEM programs or facilitate the creation of new ones. Others have made the grant dollars available through a competitive granting process, soliciting the best ideas from the community. While not every community has fully expended their funding, the scope of the projects to date is quite diverse. From robotics and coding programs in Brown, Dubois, Greene, and Orange counties, to makerspaces and afterschool STEM clubs in Crawford, Lawrence, and Spencer counties, the range of programming made available through this funding is impressive. We believe these grants will make a meaningful impact on the students of Southwest Central Indiana. Be on the lookout for these impactful programs within your community and follow along with ROI as we share program outcomes in future newsletters.


Regional schools awarded Lilly Endowment counseling grants

Lilly Endowment Counseling Grants
Three school districts and one charter school in Southwest Central Indiana have been awarded grants from Lilly Endowment Inc. to implement strategies to strengthen school counseling programs for their students. Congratulations to Brown County School Corporation, Bloomington Project School, Monroe County Community School Corporation, and Orleans Community School Corporation.

ROI applauds these schools for bringing educators and communities together to address this critical need in schools. The Lilly Endowment has also announced that a second competitive round of the counseling initiative is available. Round II grant proposals are due March 15, 2018. ROI is happy to work with schools interested in pursuing this grant opportunity. Contact us for details. Read more.


ROI collaborating on key issues facing Southwest Central Indiana

ROI Staff at Opioid Summit
ROI is committed to the economic and community prosperity of Southwest Central Indiana. Playing a convening and collaborative role on issues that affect the well-being of our communities is important to our success and the success of our region. That’s why we’re proud to have convened and participated in several recent events across the region.

First, we would like to thank everyone who took the time and opportunity to participate in our regional competitive positioning workshops in September. Our consultants are currently working hard to pull key insights and a regional strategy that is inclusive of all of your perspectives. Also, we have been thrilled to participate in a variety of other activities across the region, including the first annual South Central Opioid Summit, Indiana Chamber Indiana’s Vision 2025 regional forum, and the Stronger Economies Together forums. For this region to reach its potential, it will require multiple partners working collaboratively to accomplish great things.


Skill UP! work-based learning provides authentic job experiences & soft skill development

Skill UP! Work-Based Learning Photo
This year, ROI launched the Skill UP! Work and Learn Internship Program, an initiative established through the Skill UP! Indiana grant administered by the Department of Workforce Development. Through this program, ROI partnered with WorkOne Southwest Indiana to place 30 information technology students from Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington, Vincennes University, Vincennes University-Jasper Campus, and Indiana University with 14 regional employers. As of mid-November, six students have completed the 14-week program, and five students have reported receiving full-time job offers from their partnering organizations. Read more.


Next Level Jobs to provide funding for Indiana workers and employers

Next Level Jobs
By 2025, it is estimated that there will be over one million job openings in Indiana due to retirements and the creation of new jobs. In August, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced the Next Level Jobs initiative to provide more than $20 million in funding to both employees and employers in support of training to fill high-demand jobs throughout the state. The goal of this initiative is to take the state’s workforce to the next level by equipping working-age Hoosiers and Indiana employers with the training and skills needed to succeed in the 21st Century Economy.

Workforce Ready Grants cover tuition and training costs for adults to earn career certificates at Ivy Tech and Vincennes University in high-growth sectors, including advanced manufacturing, building & construction, health & life sciences, transportation & logistics, and IT & business services. View eligibility requirements and FAQs.

Employer Training Grants are designed to help offset costs for employers to train new employees in these industries. It provides businesses up to $2,500 in reimbursements for each new employee that is trained, hired, and retained for six months. View grant requirements and FAQs.

ROI’s sector specialists can assist Southwest Central Indiana companies to get started in Next Level programs. Contact us today to learn more.


ROI welcomes Brian D. Blackwell as Director of Industry and Quality of Place Initiatives

Brian-Blackwell
ROI is proud to announce and welcome Brian D. Blackwell as Director of Industry and Quality of Place Initiatives. Blackwell joins ROI in December following his retirement from a 30-year career at NSWC Crane. At ROI, Blackwell will focus on regional quality of place initiatives and advancing industry partnerships within Southwest Central Indiana’s advanced manufacturing, life sciences, and national security and defense sectors. Read more.


ROI adds Scott Johnson as Sector Specialist

Brian-BlackwellROI recently added a new sector specialist to our team. Scott Johnson is working part-time with companies in Southwest Central Indiana’s key industry sectors to collaborate and develop strategies to align education and workforce initiatives across the region.

Johnson comes to ROI with expertise in advanced manufacturing and defense. He has led a series of design integration and manufacturing projects over a 36-year career at NSWC Crane. Johnson’s extensive program and project management experience will also be valuable as ROI executes the region’s sector strategies in all three industry sectors.


Upcoming events in Southwest Central Indiana

In each newsletter, we share a summary of ROI events and those from our industry partners and organizations in Southwest Central Indiana.

December 4-5: Ready Schools Cohort Visiting Kentucky Innovation Schools

December 7: Superintendents Round Table

December 7: ROI Regional Council Meeting

January: Southwest Central Indiana Competitive Positioning Reveal Event

April or May: ROI Cybersecurity Mock Challenge

Do you have a regionally relevant event to share? Contact Betsy Trotzke, ROI Communications and Marketing Director at betsytrotzke@swcindiana.org.


Southwest Central Indiana

11 counties, 4,500 square miles, the 3rd largest Navy base in the world, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and more.

Follow us on social media for more up-to-date happenings in Southwest Central Indiana.



Regional Opportunity Initiatives, Inc., is sharing this informational update with you – as one of our stakeholders – to illustrate the activities currently underway to ensure long-term prosperity and quality of life in Southwest Central Indiana. We hope you find this information helpful and encourage you to share it with colleagues. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us

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