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NE Indiana Organizations Collaborate On Transformative Talent Program

“What am I good at and how do I get paid for it?” That’s the burning question that Northeast Indiana organizations are working together to help students answer.

The Olin B. and Desta Schwab Foundation has invested more than $2 million to launch a new collaborative initiative that helps Northeast Indiana students identify their strengths and talents and develop them into careers.

Over the past year, the Schwab Foundation has partnered with Ivy Tech Fort Wayne, Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and Region 8 Education Service Center to align resources that guide students in grades 6-14 through the discovery and process of creating and executing a career plan.

Together, the partners are developing and integrating a system of touchpoints where students can engage with community partners for self-discovery, college and career exploration, dual credit and experiential learning—all rooted in the individual strengths of the student.

“We’ve assembled an amazing team of organizations and asked the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership to help lead, to ensure that our region is empowering its students, middle school to postsecondary, to identify the path that’s right for them, and to successfully navigate that path,” said Sue Ehinger, chair of the Schwab Foundation board of directors. “The group brings all the experience in professional development, targeted training, career exploration and employer engagement necessary to succeed in this launch phase of the effort. Mr. Schwab would be proud of the team’s efforts in preparing young people to make informed educational decisions and career choices.”

Each organization has already worked together to help students engage in experiences, develop skills and realize opportunities that allow them to turn their talents into meaningful careers, but the Schwab Foundation’s investment is catalyzing a new and unique level of partnership.

Lena Yarian, president at Junior Achievement of Northern Indiana, said it’s important to partner together to teach students how to explore their personal interests and skills. Ultimately, educators, parents and other leaders can help students match these skills and interests to this region’s rich and varied industry opportunities.

She noted, “The collaboration we’ve built together in a short amount of time has been very impressive, and each partner plays a critical role in the initiative.”

Ryan Twiss, vice president of talent initiatives at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and director of this new initiative, said, “We’ve realigned resources internally to create a team solely focused on efforts related to talent development, retention and attraction, and our partners have also acted quickly to embrace this initiative. I’m honored to work with these organizations who are setting aside a lot of self-interest to put outcomes for students first.”

While the group continues to develop its systematic approach to supporting students, it has had to pivot in recent months due to COVID-19, focusing recent efforts on generating a website with resources for educators, parents and students.

“With the challenges educators, students and parents are facing with COVID-19, it’s even more critical than ever that students have the tools they need to succeed,” said Dr. Josh Wenning, executive director of Region 8 Education Service Center. “Together we’re trying to help meet that need.”

The website pulls together specific online and virtual materials to serve as an additional resource for educators, students and parents as they navigate the uncertainty of the end of the school year and considerations for the fall.

“Unprecedented partnerships like this that support Northeast Indiana’s students are critical to reaching the region’s economic goals and increasing credential attainment to 60 percent by 2030,” said Dr. Jerrilee Mosier, chancellor of Ivy Tech Fort Wayne. “This is more than just the start for us. It’s the foundation we will build upon.”

To learn more, visit the website at