CareerWise Elkhart County is one of 10 recipients of national grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York

New York, NY, March 26, 2024 – Today, Carnegie Corporation of New York announced CareerWise Elkhart County as one of 10 winners of a new initiative to support outstanding local partnerships that educate youth, bolster the workforce, and demonstrate the power of working together.

Profiles in Collective Leadership provides $200,000 grants for nonpartisan collaborations that serve as education and economic bridges in a range of communities across the country. The philanthropic initiative draws on the strengths of local government, education, nonprofit, business, and health care professionals to create career opportunities for young people and encourage civic participation. The 10 recognized partnerships in eight states will act as exemplars, sharing what they have learned with each other and with the public.

By funding these collaborations in urban, suburban, and rural areas, the Corporation seeks to reduce political polarization and support civic engagement, community cohesion, and trust in public institutions. The Corporation aims to help young people from all backgrounds move from the classroom to meaningful careers, spurring the socioeconomic mobility necessary to create a thriving economy and sustain a healthy democracy.

The Corporation, in partnership with the education nonprofit Transcend, identified candidates through a competitive national process. The winners were selected by a panel of jurors comprised of a broad range of leaders in business, higher education, and philanthropy.

CareerWise Elkhart County (CWEC) is an initiative of Horizon Education Alliance, a nonprofit organization created by education, business, and community leaders in Elkhart County, Indiana. CWEC offers a 2-to-3-year apprenticeship to high school students, designed by business leaders in partnership with schools. These apprenticeships help students extend their learning beyond the classroom, and place students into the workplace in supportive, meaningful, and paid positions while they earn high school credit, postsecondary credit, and an industry-recognized credential. CWEC is part of the CareerWise USA network, which is now in four states plus the District of Columbia.

All CWEC apprenticeships are registered through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), ensuring that apprentices who complete the program earn a nationally recognized, transferable credential upon completion. The program seeks to prepare students for skilled careers in a variety of pathways, including the county’s significant manufacturing base. Employers range from manufacturing companies to hospitals, and from public school systems to the local prosecutor’s office. The initiative engages with all seven public school districts in the county and presents the opportunity to the approximately 5,000 high school juniors and seniors across the districts.

In addition to focusing on local workforce needs, CareerWise Elkhart County addresses a community challenge: of the 2,500 students who graduate from Elkhart County Schools each year, only about 45 percent enroll in postsecondary education the year after high school, and only 32 percent complete an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years.

Since its launch in 2019, 81 high school students have participated in the apprenticeship program. Seventeen have completed the full DOL certification, and of those who have completed, 100 percent have secured employment related to their apprenticeship or enrolled in postsecondary education. Numbers are growing, and there are currently 40 apprentices in the program.

“I’m thrilled to see CareerWise Elkhart County recognized by Carnegie Corporation of New York,” said Brian Wiebe, president and chief executive officer of Horizon Education Alliance. “Our schools and businesses have worked hard over the past five years to launch this initiative, and it’s a great example of what can be accomplished when everyone in a community works together to help our youth succeed.”

“We are delighted to have this additional support from the Corporation, as it comes at a time when we have a solid foundation in place and are ready to scale up,” said Sarah Koontz, director of CareerWise Elkhart County. “Modern youth apprenticeships provide a solution to our community’s workforce challenges, and many of our business leaders recognize this. This funding will help us be more intentional in how we strategize with our business and education partners to shape the talent pipeline.”

In addition to the $200,000, winners will receive opportunities to document and share their story nationally and participate in a community of practice committed to highlighting and replicating these approaches and solutions.

“We launched Profiles based on our belief that communities across the country are working to create opportunities for economic and social mobility as well as civic engagement irrespective of red, blue, or purple politics — and we want to listen and learn from them,” said LaVerne Evans Srinivasan, vice president of the Corporation’s National Program and program director of Education. “CareerWise Elkhart County is a leading example of this type of collaborative work on the local level, and our hope is that by spotlighting and funding their efforts, we can ultimately influence the field to work in new and collective ways that also mitigate the impact of polarization.”

Learn more about the Profiles in Collective Leadership initiative at

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