BLOOMINGTON — The Mill announced that it was awarded $1,370,325 from the Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative (READI) to expand Code/IT Academy across 10 Indiana Uplands counties over the next three years.
Code/IT Academy provides free training to grow Indiana’s tech talent pool and to help Hoosiers access higher-paying jobs in the digital economy. Code/IT is a partnership between The Mill, Regional Opportunity Initiatives (ROI), and Ivy Tech. The funds were awarded by the Indiana Uplands READI Steering Committee, ROI Board of Directors, and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).
“We are incredibly grateful to READI, ROI, and the IEDC for sharing our vision of Indiana as a leader in tech, and for funding the expansion of Code/IT Academy to reach more Hoosiers,” said Pat East, Executive Director of The Mill. “The Uplands has enviable assets and opportunities for both tech companies and tech talent. Code/IT opens the door to those opportunities a little wider, to bring more folks into the new economy and its good-paying jobs.”
Code/IT’s ten weeks of free training prepares individuals for certifications and jobs in areas such as web development, IT administration, CompTIA Security+, and Amazon Web Services Cloud Practitioner. Ivy Tech instructors teach three sessions of Code/IT a year on a variety of in-demand topics. Participants join study groups and hone soft skills, and receive career coaching through the Ivy+ Career Link program.
“The expansion of Code/IT would not be possible without exceptional collaboration,” said ROI Vice President of Talent Development Michi McClaine. “All of the partners in this program have worked together to re-imagine regionally relevant, high-tech opportunities that will open new doors not just for individuals in the Uplands but also for employers and communities.”
Andy Lehman, Head of Accelerator Programming at The Mill, said the program will expand to Washington and Crawford Counties in the summer of 2023. In 2024, it will expand to Daviess, Dubois, and Orange counties. In 2025, it will reach Lawrence, Greene, Martin, Brown, and Owen Counties. Sessions will be live-streamed to satellite county locations with on-site facilitators. In-person options will be available to those in close proximity to the Mill.
“One of the things we’ve learned is the importance of an in-person cohort,” Lehman said. “Folks going through this training really benefit from making connections with peers. Personal relationships and the group dynamic build camaraderie and a shared sense of excitement about the possibilities. And that support helps keep folks motivated and moving forward to complete the 10-week session, pass the certification exams, and take steps toward a new career.”
Among other expenses, READI funds will cover the costs of adding on-site facilitators at satellite locations, paying for certification exams, and ramping up career support. The partnership with ROI is essential to expanding Code/IT Academy throughout the Uplands, Lehman said. The Mill is working closely with each county and ROI to identify convenient community locations.
Code/IT Academy held its first session in June of 2020 and is currently in its seventh. By April 2023, nearly 200 people will have gone through the program. East credited the critical role played by the City of Bloomington in the launch and refinement of the program. In 2020, the City of Bloomington invested $100,000 in Recover Forward funding in The Mill Code School, and in 2022 invested an additional $75,000 in federal ARPA funds in the rebranded Code/IT Academy.
“Three years ago, the City of Bloomington saw the urgency of expanding the digital economy to benefit more citizens,” said East. “Today, the READI expansion allows us to open the doors to opportunity even wider, to Hoosiers across the Uplands.”
“The READI grant builds on the City’s investment in Code/IT Academy,” said Mayor Hamilton. “I’m excited that the Uplands READI steering committee and the IEDC see the value of this program that helps residents chart brighter futures and employers hire needed talent. This program is a win for our community and now the Uplands region. Hats off to The Mill for their vision and leadership.”
Increasing digital equity has been an intentional goal of the program from its outset, according to Lehman. Of the spring 2023 Bloomington participants, 80% identify as belonging to a group underrepresented in tech, and 50% do not have a college degree. Across all sessions to date, over half identify as women and over 30% identify as belonging to a minority group.
Residents of Monroe, Washington, and Crawford counties can sign up here to be notified when enrollment opens for new sessions. To enroll in the current session or learn more about Code/IT Academy, visit https://codeitacademy.org/ .