Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
July 2017 issue



IIWF releases new report detailing adult barriers to education

LHDC names its 2017 Community Partner Award recipients


NWICA associate puts client on path to reaching her law enforcement career goals

Area IV’s Volunteer Public Transit Program meets transportation needs in local community

Submission information


IIWF releases new report detailing
adult barriers to education

Many Community Action Agencies have clients who would benefit from upskilling to improve their earning potential, and the time to enroll in post-secondary and adult education programs is just around the corner.

A new report from the Indiana Institute for Working Families (IIWF) describes the non-academic barriers that would-be adult students face when attempting to enroll in and successfully complete post-secondary education and training programs.

While state-level alignment of policies and funding sources is needed to remove these barriers across Indiana, Community Action case managers and staff may be able to find local resources to help clear the jobs pathway for adult students.

Barriers identified by the report include:

  • Insufficient incomes: More than 1 in 3 Hoosiers live below economic self-sufficiency, but even more adults (more than 40 percent) pursuing post-secondary education and training cannot afford basic costs, compared to 29 percent of those not in training.
  • Food insecurity: Worrying about the cost of groceries adds significant stress to adult students and their families. While 26.8 percent of adult students may be eligible for nutrition assistance, only 20.2 percent of these students actually receive it.
  • Housing insecurity and homelessness: Affordable housing is a barrier for would-be adult students, many of whom are low-income. Rent and utilities make up 30 percent or more of the costs that nearly half of Indiana’s renters are paying, a major risk factor for housing insecurity. Across the Midwest, 48 percent of community college students are housing insecure, and 12 percent are homeless.
  • Child care issues: It is the largest cost for working families. The cost and lack of access to child care prevents many new parents from starting training programs. The attending rate for adults with children under 5 is only 8.3 percent, while it is 31.4 percent for those with school-aged kids (ages 5 to 17).
  • Competing priorities: Of the adult students attending school, 47 percent of them work full-time on top of school and family responsibilities, and a full 82.3 percent work at least 1 hour per week. Putting the work/study/family ratio out of balance puts completion at risk.
  • Lack of reliable transportation: Only 2.9 percent of adults attending post-secondary programs did so without access to a vehicle. Without reliable access to a vehicle, it’s extremely unlikely for adult students to attend and complete school.
  • Increasing necessity of internet access: Only 8.5 percent of adults attending post-secondary programs did so without home internet access, which is now often required for both online and traditional coursework.

See the full report titled Clearing the Jobs Pathway: Removing Non-Academic Barriers to Adult Student Completion.

If you have adult education policy concerns, contact Andrew Bradley at IIWF at (317) 638-4232.

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LHDC names its 2017 Community Partner
Award recipients

Two outstanding volunteers were named as 2017 Community Partner Award recipients at the Lincoln Hills Development Corporation's (LHDC's) annual meeting of the Board of Directors in June.

Virginia "Ginny" White (on left in photo at right) resides in LHDC’s Cotton Mill Apartments in Cannelton, Ind. For the past six years, she has organized a Christmas party for the children and families living at the apartment complex. She also volunteers countless hours doing many other activities that improve the quality of life for Cotton Mill residents, including organizing exercise and sign language classes and maintaining a flower garden on the property.

For many years, Alice Adams (in center in photo at right), a Crawford County resident, has organized the purchase and donation of Christmas gifts for children served by multiple LHDC Crawford County Head Start programs. She also brightens the days of Head Start students by volunteering her time in a classroom and reading stories.

“Ginny and Alice embody the spirits for which the Community Partner Award was envisioned,” said Randy Dennison, executive director and CEO for LHDC. “They are inspirational examples of how people can make a difference in their communities. They lead by their acts of kindness, and we are proud to call them partners of LHDC.”

Lincoln Hills Development Corporation, a locally governed Community Action Agency, engages in making life better by providing opportunities to empower people to improve the quality of life and address the causes and effects of poverty in Southern Indiana.

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NWICA associate puts client on path to reaching her law enforcement career goals

Asheena Kelly (pictured on right), a single mother of two children, is a participant of the Family Development Program at Northwest Indiana Community Action (NWICA). When it came time to develop her family development action plan, she indicated that she wanted to work in law enforcement.

Inspiration from a Mentor

Asheena had a mentor in high school who served as a police officer for the City of East Chicago. He encouraged her to ‘give back’ while she finished school, inspiring Asheena to begin volunteering her time tutoring other students who were struggling in school. During this time, Asheena found a passion for helping others, something that would work together well with her law enforcement dreams.


After graduation, Asheena’s job opportunities seemed limited to working in the kitchens of fast food chains or other facilities, but her dream of being a police officer persisted. Yet she wasn’t sure how to make it happen or how she would pay for it. Did it require applying for college?

As Asheena started to feel overwhelmed, she reached out to family development specialist Jacqueline Magee (pictured above on far right) who helped her research the recommended steps to becoming a police officer — which will not be an easy path to follow.

According to, only 1 out of every 75 candidates ever gets beyond the competitive testing process. To be successful, candidates need to dedicate themselves to the process to stand out and be given the opportunity to serve. One way to do this is through volunteer work at a local police department.

From their research, Jacqueline and Asheena found the Volunteer Emergency Services Team (V.E.S.T.) program.

For more than five decades, the Town of Griffith and the Griffith Police Department have received help and support from V.E.S.T. members. These individuals are trained in various police and emergency support functions. For example, V.E.S.T. members provide patrol and support duties at outdoor activities such as the Park Full of Art, Western Days Festival and the 4th of July Parade. They help with traffic control at the scenes of accidents or fires. V.E.S.T. members also do the bulk of the town’s funeral escort duties. Through this work, V.E.S.T. members provide substantial cost savings to the town and police department. 

On May 4, 2017, Asheena was sworn in as an official V.E.S.T member of the Griffith Police Department. Asheena’s two children, Jayden and Kayla, as well as Jacqueline Magee were there to commemorate this day with her. Asheena is well on her way to achieving her goal in law enforcement.

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Area IV’s Volunteer Public Transit Program meets transportation needs in local community

Low-income residents of rural communities often lack adequate transportation for errands and social activities. If these residents are also disabled, their isolation increases. The Volunteer Public Transit Program, offered through Area IV Agency on Aging and Community Action Programs, provides an increased quality of life for low-income passengers and enables increased participation in the communities where they live.

To provide safe and proper assistance for disabled passengers, the program’s transportation coordinator, Stan Minnick (pictured standing in photo at right), offers training opportunities in passenger-assistance techniques to drivers. In addition, the Indiana Rural Transit Assistance Program partners with Area IV to provide free driver training programs that are relevant, informative and fun!

In 1986, to address a lack of public transportation in its rural areas, Area IV coordinated with community leaders and sought federal and state financial assistance from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT). Now celebrating more than 30 years of rural public transit service, the program serves the towns of Boswell, Brookston, Clarks Hill, Flora, Hillsboro, Rossville and Waveland.

INDOT still provides annual federal and state support, and Area IV also receives community donations and Community Services Block Grant funds to cover program expenses. To keep program costs low, local oversight, daily scheduling and driving are performed entirely with trained, properly licensed volunteers — a unique feature in Indiana. Each community has its own local vehicle supported by Area IV Agency for insurance, maintenance, program marketing, volunteer training and technical assistance. Passengers give donations to cover vehicle fuel.

In 2016, Area IV’s Volunteer Public Transit Program provided 4,333 one-way passenger trips for 431 unduplicated passengers, traveling 24,136 miles. Service was provided by 91 dedicated, trained volunteer board members and drivers.

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