IPA Blog

21st Century Talent Regions: A Transformative Opportunity for Indiana Philanthropy

Wednesday, July 17, 2019
By Claudia Cummings, President and CEO, Indiana Philanthropy Alliance

If you attended our recent IPA regional forums, you will truly understand what I mean when I say that the creation and implementation of a comprehensive workforce development strategy is upstream work.

Workforce development creates a clear, affordable framework through which people can transform their lives and the lives of their families. Employers across the state are eager to hire well-trained talent for careers that can put food on the table, buy a home, and finance a college education for the next generation. Such careers have the potential to transform an entire family line and eliminate their need for downstream interventions like food pantries or homeless shelters.

In my former life, I watched as previously incarcerated men and women in Lafayette wept when they were awarded industry credentials with job offers in hand. First-hand, I saw students from Indianapolis’ poorest and most violent neighborhoods begin high-wage careers their parents could never have dreamed for them. These particular talent programs were funded by IPA members—Central Indiana Community Foundation, Lumina Foundation, and Lilly Endowment Inc.—in collaboration with the corporate community and the public sector.

IPA recently surveyed funders throughout the state and found that many in our field want to work in this same type of cross-sector, upstream collaboration.

Therefore, I want to share with you an excellent opportunity to engage in this precise sort of work through the State of Indiana’s 21st Century Talent Region designation program.

The 21st Century Talent Region designation is given to any region that is working in collaboration with local philanthropy, government, business, education, economic development, nonprofit, and workforce development leaders to build and implement a plan to increase education attainment, raise household income, and grow population.

Designations are given through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and Office of Career Connections and Talent. Twelve such regions will be selected to receive technical assistance provided by CivicLab.

Right at the intersection of where philanthropy engages with the public sector, 21st Century Talent Regions will attract, develop, and connect new talent to areas interested in maximizing effectiveness while making informed decisions about what their community needs to be competitive in the coming years.

Many communities have initiatives to increase education attainment, raise household income, and grow population. However, they are often disconnected and are not bringing together the necessary stakeholders to achieve the desired collective community outcomes.

Through regional collaboration, areas can better assess all their resources and challenges, and approach solutions in a coordinated effort.

Regions are self-defined by participants and should include multi-county participants who come from different sectors and commit to working across geographic lines and organizations to attract, develop, connect, and retain talent. Once organized, the Office of Career Connections and Talent can provide assistance to guide the process to build a plan to increase education attainment (develop talent), raise household income (connect and retain talent), and grow population (attract talent). Once defined, a region will implement the priorities identified. Following the implementation, a region will receive a 21st Century Talent Region designation. The first such award was given to Northeast Indiana in June.

IPA has been tapped by IEDC President Elaine Bedel and Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent Blair Milo to lead a statewide effort to connect philanthropy to the 21st Century Talent Region efforts across the state.

I strongly encourage IPA members to reach out to me directly to join efforts to organize stakeholders for collaboration.

This will have far-reaching upstream impact for those communities whose leaders harness this opportunity to provide transformational opportunities for its neighbors.

Claudia Cummings
President and CEO
Indiana Philanthropy Alliance

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