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‘Indianapolis Promise’ aims to give all students access to education beyond high school

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A new initiative from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett aims to give all students access to education beyond high school. The 'Indianapolis Promise' was announced at the State of the City address. While the impact of the program would be far reaching, the cost is still unclear.

"We must work to ensure that every child in Indianapolis has full access to a quality post high school credential," Hogsett said during the speech.

The program would provide any student who gets a high school diploma the ability to get a degree, certificate or license in order to be competitive in the job market. The executive order signed by Hogsett calls for the formation of a task force that will work out the policy and financial details of the initiative.

Ahmed Young, the director of the Office of Education Innovation, is leading the efforts to convene the task force.

"We have to make sure we’re thinking about not only the impact of this program but the impact city wide and being fiscally responsible," Young said. "How can we have the biggest impact in a really responsible way?"

Hogsett said the city cannot make the Indianapolis Promise a reality alone. He emphasized the need for partnerships with private companies and non-profit groups. Some leaders from those groups may also be appointed to the task force.

Right now, only 62 percent of Indianapolis high school seniors enroll in post-secondary education and 25 percent of those student require remedial work, according to the executive order.

"What we’re facing are access challenges, attainment challenges abd workforce development gaps," Young said.

The Indianapolis Promise is meant to provide encouragement to students who would otherwise not be able to pursue higher education.

"A sense of hope, a sense of optimism," Young said. "Really looking at high demand and high wage jobs that can be served right here in the city of Indianapolis."

The task force needs to finalize its work and have a full report ready by December 2017.

City County Council President Maggie Lewis (D-District 10) sent FOX59 this statement regarding the program:

"I am passionate about education and excited about building on the success of Pre-K. I believe we owe it to our families to ensure that every child in our great city has a pathway to a higher education program. I look forward to working alongside leaders from a variety of backgrounds in the months to come to bring this exciting initiative to life."

Successful "Promise" programs 

Young says the task force will study other 'Promise' programs around the country to see what's working.

The 'Kalamazoo Promise' program was established 11 years ago. So far, the program has helped more than 4,650 students and awarded around $90 million in financial aid for post-secondary education. The initiative there is funded by anonymous donors and has never required fundraising.

The program's director said the launch of the program led to an increase in enrollment at the local school district and other positive outcomes around Kalamazoo.

Shelby County, Indiana launched a similar, but smaller, program in 2015.