Regional Opportunity Initiatives is working in the Indiana Uplands on strategies focused on connecting education and industry to create a workforce that is prepared for the demands of regional employers. The following list represents some of ROI’s current education and workforce initiatives:

Ready Schools Initiative

ROI funds and assists school districts to align PreK-12 curricular and programmatic offerings with the education and workforce needs of the Indiana Uplands region. Districts receive a development grant to work with ROI through a design thinking process that engages educators, employers, students, parents, and community partners. Implementation grants are available upon completion of the year-long design process. Fifteen districts have received development and implementation grants for locally specific and regionally relevant strategies aligned with key industry sectors. Strategies include student-run businesses, digital fabrication labs, an Automation and Robotics Academy, a Future Center, school-wide project-based learning, and more. Learn More »

STEM Fellowship

ROI’s STEM Fellowship aims to increase STEM integration in K-6 education and build a network of qualified STEM teacher leaders. The Fellows engage in professional development throughout the school year, focus on topics relevant to STEM fields, and are connected to regionally specific STEM careers. Upon completing this program, Fellows have increased competency in teaching STEM, are prepared to be a STEM resource to colleagues, are an active part of the Uplands regional STEM network, and work within their communities to increase STEM engagement. Eighty educators have completed a fellowship, and 17 will participate in the 2021-22 cohort,
for a total of 97 STEM Fellows in the region. Learn More »

Career Coaching

One of ROI’s Career Coaching initiatives is a Career Coaching Fellowship, which is intended to identify and support the professional development of individuals serving in a career coaching role in the Uplands. Professional development sessions are regionally relevant and demand-driven, providing students and adults a clear understanding of the high opportunity career paths in the region. Fellows will be connected to regional employer needs and state career coaching resources throughout the entire fellowship. The first cohort of 19 Career Coaching Fellows will launch in August 2021. Learn More »

In addition, ROI supports the College Advising Corps, a national program brought to the Uplands by IU Bloomington. Indiana University Bloomington College Advising Corps (IUBCAC) places recent college graduates into underserved high schools to work as full-time college advisors. IUBCAC advisors work in partnership with the teachers and school leaders to ensure that students have a postsecondary plan regardless of their circumstances. IUBCAC advisors focus specifically on first-generation, underrepresented, and low-income students. Advisors are placed in Uplands high schools that serve a higher percentage of at-risk students and have historically low postsecondary enrollment and completion rates. Learn More »

UpSkill Work & Learn Initiative

Building on the data from a regional landscape survey and further exploration of promising practices around the country, ROI has developed the UpSkill Work & Learn Initiative, which includes authentic multi-year experiences culminating in industry-recognized credentials, stackable postsecondary credits, and job-embedded skills alongside a high school diploma. Additional key features of UpSkill will be soft skills training and intentional career guidance throughout a student’s entire 2-3 year UpSkill experience. UpSkill offers students the chance to discover career interests and pathways they cannot learn in the classroom and employers the opportunity to grow their workforce. Serving as the intermediary organization, ROI will work with the high school, employer, and higher education partners to coordinate efforts and ensure all program components are running smoothly.

Career Awareness

Working closely with industry and sector partners, ROI has created a series of regionally specific career awareness videos. Sixteen videos focus on key sectors, job exploration, and job shadowing. Complementary curriculum, worker profiles, job descriptors, pathway sequencing, and postsecondary programming options are also included. Learn More »

Educator Boot Camp

Educator Boot Camp is a week-long experience designed to expose educators, counselors, and school leaders to the breadth of STEM-focused industry careers available in the Indiana Uplands region. K-12 teachers and adult education providers are immersed in local industries to learn about the jobs available and the skills needed to pursue meaningful careers. Educator Boot Camp has placed more than 100 educators, representing 15 school districts and nine counties into four-day experiences with employers from the life sciences, national security and defense, advanced manufacturing sectors. Learn More »

Advancing Out-of-School STEM Learning Grants

ROI’s Out-of-School STEM Learning grants provided funding to Indiana Uplands Community Foundations to support exceptional STEM programming or to develop new programs that offer young people the opportunity for hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering, and math. The goal is to broaden interest and engagement in STEM-related skills development and careers in an environment outside of the traditional school setting. Twenty-eight unique programs have been funded across ten counties, including robotics teams, makerspaces, coding clubs, and other STEM-relevant extracurricular programming. Program partners include 4-H Clubs, WestGate Academy Club, Cub Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs, Purdue Extension, and public school systems. 

Digital Fabrication Labs

Digital fabrication labs provide schools and students with early and sustained experiential learning with state-of-the-art equipment and instructional processes that are connected to real-world problem-solving. ROI has funded nine digital fabrication labs throughout the region. Students are immersed in the engineering design process, coding, and programming integrated with academic content. As a region of makers, we are positioned to embrace maker education with digital programming and automation to ensure our young adults are future-ready. 

Occupational Needs Assessment

ROI’s Occupational Needs Assessment (ONA) is updated annually to ensure that the strategies and initiatives developed and deployed are regionally specific and demand-driven. By regularly analyzing workforce trends, in-demand jobs, and educational alignment in the region’s three key sectors – advanced manufacturing, national security and defense, and life sciences – ROI and its partners can be more deliberate in their efforts to advance economic and community prosperity in the Indiana Uplands. Learn More »