Eleven Fifty Academy (EFA) is thrilled to be working with many community partners on our Advancing Tech in 46218 initiative. Thanks to the support of a grant from Lilly Endowment through its Enhancing Opportunity in Indianapolis initiative, we are collaborating with many area stakeholders to open the doorway to tech for residents of the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood.
Martin University, Indiana’s only Predominantly Black institution (PBI) has been an educational pillar of the Martindale-Brightwood community since 1977. We recently sat down with John Girton, Jr., Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and External Relations at Martin University, to talk about the work they’re doing and why they’re excited about Advancing Tech in 46218.
Can you share a little about Martin University, and your institution’s goals?
In 1977, Martin University was founded in the inner city of Indianapolis to break barriers to academic success and to empower everyday citizens to change their lives through education. The majority of Martin University’s students are African-American, female, and over the age of 25.
We help our students reshape their lives, build generational wealth, and achieve their goals of earning advanced degrees. We support those who have been discounted and disadvantaged by biases within higher education. Many individuals do not feel valued. Martin helps students believe in themselves and know that their education is one key that can transform their lives.
How did Martin University get involved with Eleven Fifty Academy, and how did the idea come about for Advancing Tech in 46218?
Scott Jones, the founder and president of Eleven Fifty Academy, approached Dr. Sean Huddleston, the president of Martin University, with the idea of partnering to bring Eleven Fifty Academy’s offerings to 46218. The idea behind Advancing Tech in 46218 was in response to Scott’s desire to truly create more immediate and impactful change for the people who need it the most by helping them get into high-paying and high-demand jobs in tech. He explained that the EFA model had been tested and is proven to work.
Scott and Dr. Huddleston discussed the idea of the EFA certification being situated as a stackable credential that could be embedded into an existing degree program at Martin. Essentially, the EFA training will provide students with technical skills, and the Martin degree will provide additional education in other aspects of business that tech professionals need to know for optimal career advancement.
By completing the EFA credential as they work on their degree, students won’t have to wait to begin increasing their earning potential. With our new Martin WORKS program that embeds paid apprenticeships in our academic programs, we can combine our career placement efforts to ensure students are connected with and hired by employers for full-time roles as close to their completion dates with EFA and Martin as possible. It’s a mutually beneficial win-win idea that–from the beginning–was student centered, outcome-based, and focused on resolving equity gaps.
We know that tech is certainly in demand in Indiana right now. What about tech makes it such a good fit for the 46218 neighborhood, and why is right now the right time for this initiative?
That’s correct; tech is in high demand throughout the country and in central Indiana. The lack of diversity within this sector presents an opportunity for this collaboration to take hold and positively impact the lives of marginalized citizens who have been capable of excelling in tech careers but have not been exposed.
Martin and EFA are focused on using technology as a springboard for transformation in the 46218 neighborhood. The opportunity to show the world what members of our community can become will not only showcase the potential within our community; it will attract others who share in the idea of transformation through education.
As the state’s only predominantly Black institution, what is your perspective on the kinds of barriers or challenges we face in getting people enrolled in programs like Advancing Tech in 46218?
Exposure is a challenge for members of the 46218 community. We believe that you must see it to be it, and for too long, our community hasn’t had a pathway like this. To that end, this collaboration allows those from our community to become exposed to the various career paths and job opportunities made possible by taking advantage of these professional courses. As more members of our community achieve tech credentials and break into the industry, I believe we’ll see exponential growth.
This initiative is based on community and collaboration. What do you think that means for students?
Martin considers itself a “communiversity.” That means that our focus is not just our students alone. We constructively impact students, families, and the community while at the same time leveraging education to transform lives. Our collaborations allow community stakeholders to join us as resources to our students, families, and community.
What would you say to prospective students in this neighborhood who have never heard of Eleven Fifty Academy or considered a career in tech?
As consumers, technology is all around us. However, most people in under-resourced communities may believe that consuming technology is their only role. Eleven Fifty Academy unlocks the door to becoming more than a consumer, but a contributor toward the unlimited potential of a career in a technology field.
If you’re a community organization working toward the same goals and would like to get involved, we’d love to talk. Reach out today.