The Don Wood Foundation, Questa Educational Foundation, and TPMA have launched the “Achieving Postsecondary Attainment” initiative to advance postsecondary education awareness, access, enrollment, and completion among twelve (12) counties in Northeast Indiana (NEI). This initiative builds upon and enhances ongoing regional talent development efforts and aims to achieve three outcomes: 1) gain a thorough understanding of regional assets; 2) identify opportunities for postsecondary enrollment and completion; and 3) develop an action plan of collective regional strategies.
In this rapidly evolving economy, automation and innovation necessitate a workforce that is highly skilled, adaptable, and able to keep pace with the changing demands of employers to remain globally competitive. As the post-pandemic recovery gathers momentum, it is increasingly evident that jobs requiring some level of postsecondary education, such as industry-recognized credentials and certifications, associate, and/or bachelor degrees, are projected to outpace those that only require a high school diploma or less.1 With an increasingly urgent need to address talent shortages, NEI leaders have prioritized scaling regional postsecondary attainment efforts to address this challenge for the benefit of both residents and employers.
“We are committed to supporting impactful solutions that will bridge gaps and foster a highly skilled workforce in Northeast Indiana,” said Patrick Buesching, Director of Strategic Initiatives, Don Wood Foundation. “Because we understand the importance of postsecondary connection and completion, Don Wood Foundation and Questa Education Foundation will make substantial investments in initiatives to boost educational attainment in our region.”
“It is imperative that our region’s workforce recognizes that the promise of opportunity in today’s economy demands more than a high school diploma and that we elevate all postsecondary training and education choices – from the skilled trades to advanced degrees. Through this initiative, we will engage adults and high school students to gain first-hand perspectives,” said Elizabeth Bushnell, Ph.D., Executive Director for Questa Education Foundation. “It is critical for us to understand and address the barriers that prevent residents from pursuing further training and education after high school.”
In addition to robust stakeholder and target audience engagement, the project team will engage an Advisory Board that represents K-12 education, postsecondary institutions, industry, workforce development, and economic development across the 12-county region. The Advisory Board will provide strategic insights and recommendations for the project’s approach, ensuring a comprehensive and well-informed methodology. The esteemed members of our Advisory Board include: Dr. Karl W. Einolf, President, Indiana Tech; Dr. Evan Wood, Vice President of People & Strategy, Fort Wayne Metals; Edmond O’Neal, President, Northeast Indiana Works; Shenita Bolton, Ed.S., Director of K-12 College and Career Readiness, Fort Wayne Community Schools; Ryan Twiss, Vice President of Regional Initiatives, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership; Dr. Kim Barnett-Johnson, Chancellor, Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne; Heather Schoegler, Director of Strategic Educational Partnerships, Parkview Health; Bill Konyha, President & CEO, Regional Chamber of Northeast Indiana.
1 Ascend Indiana. 2022. “Indiana’s Evolving Labor Market Full Report. https://ascendindiana.com/resources/indianas-evolving-labor-market-full-report-2022
About the Don Wood Foundation: The Don Wood Foundation is a private foundation, established in 2018 by Don Wood, founder of 80/20, Inc., that serves and supports innovators, leaders, collaborators, and skilled workers with the potential to create and sustain opportunities in manufacturing. The Foundation partners with non-profits and educational institutions to provide sustained investment that supports the development of a diverse workforce through exposure, education, and training to create strong communities rooted in the advancement of manufacturing. Visit www.donwoodfoundation.org and follow Don Wood Foundation on LinkedIn and Facebook.
About Questa Education Foundation: Since 1937, Questa Education Foundation has been helping individuals access postsecondary education, graduate with less debt, and become contributing members of Northeast Indiana’s workforce. Questa offers financial aid options, including a nationally-distinctive forgivable loan program. Questa programs enable students to achieve their education with financial freedom and remain in Northeast Indiana to live and work after graduation, meeting regional talent needs. Visit www.questafoundation.org and follow Questa Education Foundation on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.