Indiana Community Action Network E-newsletter
August 2017 issue



New resource now available to help adult students

NWICA president and CEO awarded Sagamore of the Wabash

CAPWI's associate executive director retires after 40 years of distinguished service

IN-CAA names new network training manager for Indiana Training Institute

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New resource now available to help adult students:
Indiana to provide free community college certificate programs for
in-demand fields

Originally published on National Skills Coalition blog
Co-authored by: Rachel Hirsch (National Skills Coalition) and Andrew Bradley (IIWF)

Edited for placement in the IN-CAA e-news

Governor Eric Holcomb recently signed into law Senate Bill 198, which provides free community college to students seeking a certificate in a “high-value” field. This legislation, called the Workforce Ready Grant, will provide last-dollar tuition assistance to all students enrolled in a certificate program leading to a high-value field, regardless of financial need.

The Workforce Ready Grant is a product of a partnership between Governor Eric Holcomb, the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. It was supported by the Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition, a bipartisan coalition of state legislators, education policymakers, and business, labor and community leaders seeking to close the state’s skills gap. The state will provide $2 million a year for the grant program.

“High-value” fields have been defined by the state as those that have “high job placement, high completion rate, high wage and high demand.” This grant builds on the energy of the state’s You Can. Go Back. campaign, created last year to encourage more adults to return and complete degrees and credentials through direct outreach, support from Indiana colleges and $1,000 Adult Student Grants. Much of the Workforce Ready Grant’s intention is also to help adults return to school and gain new skills. Earning a certificate in an in-demand industry not only helps businesses to fill crucial human capital needs, but also allows adults in low-skilled, low-wage jobs to enter into career pathways leading to family-sustaining wages.

The Indiana Skills2Compete Coalition and National Skills Coalition are strong proponents of policies that help to expand equitable access to middle-skill credentials and careers. Establishing last-dollar scholarships for certificates in in-demand fields, as Indiana’s Workforce Ready Grant does, is one way that states can help adults with limited skills earn postsecondary credentials that lead to quality middle-skill jobs, while also ensuring that businesses have access to skilled, qualified workers.

Middle-skill jobs, which require education beyond high school but not a four-year degree, make up the largest part of America’s and Indiana’s labor market. Many key industries in Indiana are currently unable to find enough sufficiently trained workers to fill these jobs. Like many states, Indiana faces a growing middle-skill gap. In 2015, 58 percent of jobs in Indiana were middle-skill, but only 47 percent of the state’s workers are trained to the middle-skill level.

As Indiana policymakers continue to consider ways to close the skill gap, we encourage them to take an expansive view of “high-value” fields, so as not to unnecessarily limit students’ access to the diversity of community college pathways that lead to family-sustaining, middle-skill jobs.

We also encourage them to look at policies that will leverage the Workforce Ready Grant by further expanding adults’ access to middle-skill training. These include:

  • Increasing investments in proven programs, such as the WorkINdiana adult education program that combines high school equivalency diplomas with industry-recognized credentials
  • Making new investments in job-driven adult literacy services that provide the first rung on the ladder to further middle-skill training
  • Connecting adult students with services, such as childcare and transportation assistance, that make it easier to balance work and family responsibilities with their training.
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NWICA president and CEO awarded
Sagamore of the Wabash

Gary Olund (pictured above, in center), the president and CEO of Northwest Indiana Community Action (NWICA), was presented with the Sagamore of the Wabash award by Indiana State Senators Mike Bohacek and Rick Niemeyer at NWICA’s July 25 annual meeting.

The Sagamore of the Wabash is Indiana’s highest honorary award from Governor Eric Holcomb, given to individuals who have contributed to their community in an extraordinary way. Award recipients must have distinguished themselves by “humanity in living, loyalty in friendship, and wisdom and inspiration in leadership.”

“One of the most rewarding things about public service is being able to recognize the extraordinary efforts by members of the community,” said Sen. Bohacek. “Northwest Indiana is a better place because of [Gary’s] dedication and service.”     

During Sen. Niemeyer’s remarks, he recalled meeting Olund 15 years ago during a meeting on the future of Community Action in northwest Indiana. “If Gary said he was going to do something, then he did it,” said Sen. Niemeyer.

Olund has dedicated his entire 41-year career in nonprofit management exclusively to Indiana. Prior to joining NWICA, Olund served as the executive vice president of the Family & Children’s Center Inc. in South Bend. Born and raised in South Bend, Olund has served communities and vulnerable populations in various roles at the United Way of St. Joseph County and at PACT Inc. in Michigan City and Valparaiso.

“I am honored and humbled by this award, which is a tribute to, and shared with, those here tonight and those who I’ve had the privilege [of working with] throughout my career,” said Olund. “We’ve accomplished a lot, but there is still much more to be done.”

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CAPWI's associate executive director retires after
40 years of distinguished service

Bob Taylor (pictured at right), the associate executive director and associate director of Employment and Training for the Community Action Program, Inc. of Western Indiana (CAPWI), is retiring after more than 40 years of service to CAPWI’s Employment and Training programs.

Taylor joined CAPWI in July 1976 as the director of planning and development where he helped to administer CAPWI’s first Weatherization program. He wrote the grants that initiated the Covington and Williamsport senior centers. He coordinated “Red Cap Enterprises,” a craft store in Rockville for low-income consignees and senior citizens that CAPWI operated for four years. Taylor was also instrumental in beginning the Energy Assistance Program.

In 1978, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) was established, and Taylor created and implemented the career resource center concept, which provided job-search and job-readiness classes. This concept was one of the first to be utilized in the state of Indiana.

In 1983, CETA was phased out, and the Jobs Training Partnership Act (JTPA) came into effect. Taylor was enormously instrumental in securing the JTPA grant and accepted the directorship of that program. Under Taylor’s leadership during JTPA, CAPWI was awarded multiple Impact grants that helped generate a great deal of additional revenue for the Employment and Training division.

In the 1990s, JTPA was phased out, and the Workforce Investment Act became law. Once again, Taylor led CAPWI through the challenge.

Taylor often commented that he is an English major who spends most of his time doing math. His remarkably versatile skills have been the perfect match for his position. Whether monitoring On-the-Job Training contracts to the penny or writing million-dollar grant proposals, Taylor’s leadership has been the guiding force that maintained CAPWI as one of the top Employment and Training service providers in the state.

Taylor currently resides in Covington, Ind. He is the proud father of Justin Taylor and grandfather of Kyra Taylor.

While Taylor may be retiring from CAPWI, his indelible footprint will be forever branded on the agency.

“We will all miss his wonderful, keen sense of humor, quick, dry wit and his everyday presence,” said Muff Rennick, executive director of CAPWI. “He has been an inspiration to many. I speak for all of us when I say we are proud to have had the privilege to work with and beside Bob. We thank him for sharing his knowledge, expertise and two-thirds of his life with us. We owe much of who and what we are to Bob.”

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IN-CAA names new network training manager for Indiana Training Institute

The Indiana Community Action Association (IN-CAA) has named Amy Carter, MSW, MPA, (pictured at right) as the new network training manager for its Indiana Training Institute (ITI).

Amy has a master’s degree in social work with an emphasis on leadership and a master’s degree in public affairs specializing in policy analysis, both from Indiana University. Amy has been with IN-CAA since January 2017, when she started as an intern with the Indiana Institute for Working Families. In her new role, she will split her time between the Institute and ITI, handing everything from SNAP action alerts and sending upcoming training reminders to writing grant reports.

In her personal time, Amy enjoys binge-watching Netflix, anything Harry Potter-related, and playing with her two puppies, Thomas and Roscoe, and her cat, Clark Griswold.

If you have questions about Family Development Continuing Education Units or anything regarding trainings, contact Amy at or (317) 638-4232.

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