Impact Grant Supports Pre-Manufacturing Academy | Easterseals Arc of Northeast Indiana

The Steuben County Community Foundation has awarded a $20,000 Impact Grant to Easterseals RISE to support a Pre-Manufacturing Academy, which will be offered in partnership with The Steuben County Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

The Pre-Manufacturing Academy will follow a 10-week program to help individuals prepare for employment with local manufacturers. Both Easterseals RISE and the EDC will have manufacturing technical training equipment on-site to foster development of specific skills needed by area employers.

“SCCF is excited to support this collaborative project to help people and businesses in Steuben County,” SCCF President & CEO Jennifer Danic said. “We look forward to seeing Easterseals RISE and the Steuben County EDC work together on this new initiative.”

Easterseals RISE will assess students and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to determine their interests, skills and any need for accommodations and will provide preparatory instruction at its on-site learning lab. After completing the assessment, individuals who are interested in pursuing employment in manufacturing will transition to the Academy at the EDC.

“Collaborating with the EDC to help people with disabilities prepare for the manufacturing workforce is an important step not only for the individuals we support, but also for the future of Steuben County as a truly inclusive community,” Easterseals RISE Executive Director Crystal Church-Stavitzke said. “We are all stronger when we work together.”

The Academy will benefit both employers and job seekers in Steuben County.

“The manufacturing industry here in Steuben County is our largest employer. The Pre-Manufacturing Academy is designed to increase the number of qualified applicants entering the manufacturing industry,” Steuben County EDC Executive Director Isaac Lee said. “We are excited to have formed this partnership with Easterseals RISE and the individuals they support who will be able to enroll in this Academy,”

The EDC will provide the Pre-Manufacturing Academy at its on-site learning lab to students after school four days a week, plus a summer session for adults and students who cannot attend during the school year.

Learners interested in the Academy would select a participating manufacturer with whom they would be interested in pursuing a career. Through an interview process or the Easterseals RISE assessment process, the learner and the chosen manufacturer would be mutually vetted to assure a good fit. Each manufacturer would be able to sponsor one learner per 10-week session.

Students will be paid while enrolled in the program, with funds from manufacturers who are sponsoring students. Upon completing the program, students would be certified and employed by the sponsors.

About Impact Grants
In early 2020, the Steuben County Community Foundation announced its new Impact Grant cycle intended to support collaborative organizations that demonstrate innovative ideas with a plan for sustainability. Impact Grants offer multi-year funding at a higher dollar amount than most other application-based grant cycles at SCCF. With the support of its donors, SCCF awards more than $1 million each year in grants and scholarships in Steuben County.

About Steuben County Economic Development Corporation
The SCEDC is a 501c (3) non-profit, private entity contracted to administer economic development activities within Steuben County and every municipality within its county borders. The mission of the SCEDC is to lead economic prosperity through collaboration while strengthening employment opportunities to improve the quality of life in Steuben County. The vision of the SCEDC is it will develop and sustain a diversified economy that promotes economic growth and innovation by embracing the ingenuity of employers, cultivating a highly educated workforce, and maintaining a high quality of life valued by residents and visitors alike. More information can be found at