‘Grow Allen’ to create career-ready high school graduates

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — As the demand for better skilled workers continues to grow, a new non-profit group will launch in September to give more students career skills while they’re in school.

Grow Allen was described a collaboration of Allen County’s four public school systems, area businesses and local non-profits. It was assembled by Ron Turpin, Senior Vice President of Civic Investment at Ambassador Enterprises. Turpin is also on the board at East Allen County Schools.

“What would it look like for every graduating senior in Allen County to have a career pathway at graduation,” he asked. “No one’s figured it out. It’s an issue throughout the entire state, so we decided to tackle that.”

Turpin said currently fewer than 50% of local graduates have that career pathway, which might correlate to the fact that fewer than 50% of the workforce in northeast Indiana has either a degree or post-high school credentials; it’s much easier to learn those skills in school than later in life.

Grow Allen won’t wait until high school to bring career options to students. The goal is to make age-appropriate career connections at a young age, not to confine students to an early inflexible track, but to give them more information about all careers they might find interesting.

Turpin said Grow Allen will focus on four key pillars: early learning, life skills, work-based learning and advocacy, so laws and regulations don’t stand in the way.

IU Health Northeast Region President Brian Bauer will be one of the many business leaders involved in Grow Allen.

“I was excited to receive a call to be a part, especially after learning our local school corporations were supportive,” Bauer said. “I’m honored to serve and support our next generation of northeast Indiana Hoosiers.”

While Turpin said holes might exist, most of the necessary resources were already available but too often work in silos. Grow Allen will help align those efforts.

“It’s about convening all of our resources to focus on getting our kids successful in their education and getting them set up for success as they graduate from our schools and go on to whatever life they want to have after graduation.”

Grow Allen will align nicely with the regional goals of growing the population, raising wages and degree credential attainment.

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