Ecosystem Enrichment


Ecosystem Enrichment, held on the fourth Thursday each month, is intended for career navigators, frontline staff, and other workforce development professionals to share best practices, learn new opportunities for clients, and provide a space for shared strategic direction of local workforce development. Browse the topics below for key takeaways and resources from previous Ecosystem Enrichment meetings.


The Importance of Coaching Financial Literacy

This week at Ecosystem Enrichment, Nathan Miller from Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana introduced attendees to the Your Money, Your Goals curriculum from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The many barriers that inhibit career progress for clients can also inhibit financial empowerment. One of the biggest barriers for those wanting to learn about financial literacy is simply finding the time to do so. Even if the financial literacy information and coaching is free, transportation and time away from work are sometimes hard to come by.

  • In order to start a conversation with your client about money, you need to try to understand their perspective, background, and personal realities.
  • Involvement in the criminal justice system is not included on a credit report.
  • Financial Empowerment = Financial Literacy + Skills & Confidence to Use Knowledge
  • The more financially empowered you are, the more you’re able to work with others to help them become financially empowered.
  • In each module within Your Money, Your Goals, there are symbols that indicate whether a section is a tool or a handout. They also give recommendations based on how much time is available. The entire curriculum is available for free on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

Question, Persuade, Refer: QPR Suicide Prevention Training

Whitney Nixon with Community Health Network led a QPR training this week at Ecosystem Enrichment. QPR – similarly to CPR – is a preventative method to identify that a person is at risk and then keep them alive long enough to get to a trained professional that can help.

  • You cannot put the idea of suicide into someone’s mind; they are either thinking about suicide already or not.
  • Offer hope through listening – listening is the power tool that restores hope in the hopeless.
  • Asking a question can save a life. 
  • You don’t have to be a mental health professional to do QPR and keep people alive.
  • When you apply QPR, you are planting seeds of hope.

Indianapolis Housing Agency: Resources & Section 3

The Indianapolis Housing Agency (IHA) joined us at this week’s Ecosystem Enrichment. Aside from resident services such as community resources, programming and financial coaching, IHA highlighted their Section 3 Employment and Training program under HUD. This program is available to qualifying individuals with funds for additional job training, uniform assistance, employer connectivity, and more.  


Additionally, all individuals meeting these income requirements are eligible to receive Section 3 HUD funding; including all IHA community residents and anyone qualifying for/residing in Section 8 or public housing. IHA partners with local businesses to host job fairs and workshops as well as utilizing their own IDA (Individual Development Account) with an asset development program with a 3:1 match: 

  • Saving for education or certifications
  • Saving for home ownership
  • Starting a new business 


When screening your clients, it is valuable to inquire about their income limitations and if they reside in Section 8 or public housing. Any resident meeting any one of these requirements will be eligible to receive free training dollars and benefits through Section 3 and IHA.

Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) and the Gateway to Work Program

Throughout 2019 and into 2020, the Healthy Indiana Plan is integrating “Gateway to Work” requirements for its participants to remain eligible for benefits. Gateway to Work mandates that HIP participants begin logging work, education, or volunteer hours. The discussion also unveiled some discussion around exemptions and what activities qualify for logging hours. Much of this is because they are evaluated case-by-case. Download the PDF presentation, read through key takeaways, and watch the highlights video to learn more.

  • “Work” hours can include time spent with a career coach, workshops, resume help, etc.
  • “Volunteer” hours can include a variety, such helping family members in need
  • Hours logged is on the “honor system,” but exemptions are managed by the state
  • HIP clients should use the FSSA Benefits Portal to apply and check benefit status
  • Representatives also mentioned using the website to find services 

Family Social Services Administration: TANF, SNAP, and IMPACT

Representatives from the Indiana Institute for Working Families and Indiana’s Family Social Services Administration (FSSA) shared info about Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Indiana Manpower Placement and Comprehensive Training (IMPACT).

  • The basic descriptions of these programs are: TANF is “cash assistance,” SNAP is “food assistance,” and IMPACT is “job training/placement”
  • There are five FSSA offices in Marion County which administer these programs – view the map 
  • There is no official referral form to pass a client on to the FSSA office, so understanding where to direct a client online or in person is important – application links are accessible on the FSSA website 
  • These programs offer support for individuals at various education levels, income levels, family status, etc. – however there are some nuanced differences between what participants can receive through TANF, SNAP, and IMPACT (particularly TANF, which is for families with children under age 18)
  • Through TANF, SNAP, and/or IMPACT, clients can receive support or cash for things like food, childcare, transportation, clothing, job training, education, and more
  • Training opportunities for IMPACT are through IN Training 
  • TANF expired in 2010 and has been renewed through short-term extensions since. It is due for federal reauthorization, since it was reauthorized through June 30, 2019 

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Preparing & Connecting Re-Entry Individuals to the Workforce

One of the largest challenges career navigators struggle with is the lack of assistance they are able to provide to the large number of re-entry individuals who come into their organizations. To solve this issue, Nick Reich from RecycleForce says “we need to work together to play to our strengths.” This was the overwhelming message from RecycleForce and the John Boner Neighborhood Center. RecycleForce hires mid- and high-level re-entry candidates (those who have the hardest time getting hired because of stronger offenses) to help them adjust to the workforce and get on their feet. Concurrently, Centers for Working Families, such as the John Boner Neighborhood Center, are pairing these individuals with case managers who assist with career navigation, financial stability, and personal support. By working together, the Ecosystem is able to best assist this population in re-engaging with society. 

  • The HIRE (Hoosier Initiative for Re-Entry) program maintains a list of businesses who actively hire individuals from the re-entry population and prepares them for the workforce pre-release
  • There is no shortage of previously incarcerated individuals who need work and we need to partner together to assist this population in overcoming barriers such as housing, employment, and transportation 
  • To engage businesses, EmployIndy’s Employer Engagement Manger, Tracy Hartman, is on the Marion County Re-Entry Coalition which is an outreach strategy to connect and educate employers on this population

EmployIndy: Region 12 WIOA Data & Training Program Solutions

In this Ecosystem Enrichment, we reflected on EmployIndy’s (Region 12) WIOA data for Quarter 1.* Although EmployIndy met or exceeded most of the training goals for serving adults and dislocated workers, it was announced that there was a disconnect across the board when it came to serving and placing youth in training or education programs. We focused more in-depth on creating possible solutions in order to improve the number of individuals who receive credentials. Here were a few of the ideas:


*Because of glitches in the system at the time, the numbers may not be exact 

LISC Indianapolis: Taking Barriers into Account

Connecting qualified clients to jobs, training, education, and resources is a day-to-day struggle. Part of this basic connecting starts at the beginning – helping clients overcome transportation barriers in order for them to receive jobs a comfortable distance from their home or directly on a bus route. This is just one of the more popular barriers to assisting clients. In a group discussion, ideas were shared about how we can overcome some of these challenges:

  • Increase number of clients in the referral portal
  • Increase awareness of local programs and the training opportunities they offer
  • Establish a central location for people to come and receive training, education, and resources
  • Exchange information between programs to brainstorm and share best practices
  • Create a form of employer engagement so there can be a ‘direct handoff’ 
  • Design a referral process so partners are not operating in silos

Helping a Job Seeker Create a Great Resumé

Jennifer Walde from EmployIndy’s Business Solutions team highlighted some best practices for resume development based on modern ways businesses and recruiters receive, filter, and evaluate submissions. Download the presentation to learn more about the following key takeaways:

  • Websites have made applying to jobs very easy – which means job postings get lots of applications, and competition has increased
  • Resumés should be short, specific, and tailored to the job being sought
  • Focus on accomplishments rather than job duties, and use action verbs
  • Include resumes or degrees that are started but not yet completed 
  • Bullet points are generally easier to read than paragraphs 

Download Resources