Grants have been awarded to eight regional colleges and universities for new programs designed to help the South Bend – Elkhart region advance its current and future highly-skilled workforce. These awards, totaling $2.465 million, will support learning and programs designed to equip the region’s workforce to thrive in the digital age of industry. The initiatives span a diverse set of programs and activities that include flexible non-degree programs and industry-recognized certifications, as well as formal two-year and four-year degree programs of study in data science and other in-demand fields.
The awards stem from the LIFT Network's Digital Skills Accelerator Fund, which is facilitated by the South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership and the University of Notre Dame. The LIFT Network is a regional consortium of colleges and non-profits, led by the University of Notre Dame and the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. Funding to catalyze the network is made possible by a $42.4 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant to the University of Notre Dame, awarded in 2019.
Grant awards were made in two phases. Phase I planning grants were awarded at $50,000 per institution in August 2020 and helped give regional higher education institutions the capacity to form internal and regional working groups to support proposal development. In November 2020, a workshop was held for the institutions to share prospective plans and foster collaboration and coordination among partners. Institutions then submitted Phase II proposals in December 2020. Following the anticipated launch of projects during the summer of 2021, the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership and iNDustry Labs plan to regularly convene stakeholders to strengthen coordination as it relates to industry engagement and partnership development.
Brief descriptions of the Phase II funding and activities that will result from these awards are summarized below. For general inquiries, please contact the South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership's Director of Education and Workforce, Leighton Johnson via email at, firstname.lastname@example.org. Direct inquiries to the specific projects may be made to the points of contact identified below.