INDIANAPOLIS – Two years after he was behind bars for a crime he committed at the age of 18, Jacobey Echols is feeling hopeful for his future.
“They helped me write a plan, they gave me the courage and the mental strength to push forward,” he said.
Echols is talking about the help he received from the Edna Martin Christian Center in the Martindale Brightwood community.
“With these on my platform, I can’t get the job done as well as I can at work, so I have to make a dime basically and I don’t do it. I wanted to find another way to do it. achieve it,” Echols said.
The Center is one of several locations across the city where 16-24 year olds can take advantage of EmployIndy’s Youth Employment System. It’s called Yes Indy and focuses on helping young people find a path to a promising career.
Yes Indy offers soft skills training, employer referrals, and job fairs to help build a platform for participants.
Many participants are returning to the community from the criminal justice system or they have had a hard time in traditional schools, said Kelly Evans, re-entry and youth opportunity coordinator for Edna Martin. The aim is to help young people get jobs.
“There’s a huge need for this in our community… a lot of times our kids are pushed into traditional fields like you have to go to college to earn this money, so this is the thing. This keeps our kids from feeling so overwhelmed and gives them another avenue to learn how to make money,” Evans said.
There is also Edna Martin’s Earn and Learn Initiative, which allows participants to earn stipends while learning skills and earn certifications in various fields such as logistics, culinary arts restaurants and hotels within four weeks.
“We work on their finances as well as their jobs to teach them money management once they start making money, which is absolutely amazing,” says Evans.
Going forward, they will offer training and certification in audio video technology.
Echols is a singer and rapper with a passion for music. Since he records and directs his own music videos, he was offered an internship at Edna Martin in the audiovisual technology department. He is currently working to help launch the training program.
“I’m excited because it’s everything I want to do; we have the green screen, the camera, the kickstand [and] studio lighting. We have everything,” Echols said.
The goal of the program is for participants to be trained and ready to work in 14 weeks. All services are free including high school equivalency classes, job and job training, and financial coaching.
Training and certification courses are available for in-demand jobs such as healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing, logistics and construction.
You can start by texting “connect” to 317-597-8068.