LIFT Network’s Digital Skills Accelerator Fund: Phase II

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, Direct inquiries to the specific projects may be made to the points of contact identified below.

Phase II Funding Recipients

Ancilla College
Ancilla College and Marian University collaborated to secure this grant, awarded to Ancilla College to support Ancilla College of Marian University. Ancilla College of Marian University will expand the current AncillaWorks platform offered by Ancilla College – a student facing work-and-learn program – to include incumbent, adult workers (not a current focus of the program) to be trained within the industry spaces of business analytics, leadership and management, logistics, and supply chain. Funding will support program operations to upskill currently working adults in two business degree pathways, leveraging high-quality industry credentials such as the Certificate of Logistics, Transportation and Distribution, and Certificate of Supply Chain Professional, in addition to 12-18 business degree credits earned from Ancilla College of Marian University.

Bethel University
Bethel University will launch the Digital Workforce Transformation Program that will develop talent aligned with the following disciplines: mechanical engineering, information technology and data analytics - all focused on partnering with regional manufacturing firms. The overall project will modernize degree offerings in Engineering and Management and Computer Science, respectively, and increase applied learning opportunities and regional employer retentions of graduates. Goshen College will also develop cloud computing bootcamps targeting K-12 students and incumbent adult workers, respectively, to build student prospect pipelines into degree and non-degree related programs.

Goshen College
Goshen College will develop the Goshen College Digital Skills Accelerator Program that will both build future and current workforce pipelines, focused on business and information technology disciplines. Goshen College will develop a new Information and Business Technology undergraduate degree program in partnership with industry leaders across the business advisory committee. Undergraduate students will enroll in the program over the two-year grant period. In addition to the new degree program, Goshen College will also facilitate summer academic bootcamps that promote exploration of computer science and business technology disciplines for regional K-12 students.

Holy Cross College
Holy Cross College will establish a new computer science undergraduate minor within the Holy Cross College. Holy Cross College will offer non-degree certificate programs for non-computer science minors to incumbent and adult workers that train around key coding and computer programming languages such as C++, Python, and other emerging areas. Holy Cross College will also deliver dual enrollment computer science courses and has establishment agreements with area K-12 districts and partners.

Indiana University South Bend
Indiana University South Bend will develop a Digital Skills Pipeline Project to advance the following: K-12 STEM Summer Academy in collaboration with the Purdue Polytechnic Institute; pilot K-12 district South Bend Community School Corporation, focusing on increasing minority enrollment and exploration of computer science and industrial engineering academic and career pathways, career exploration in healthcare technology targeting incumbent and non-incumbent workers and will expand applied learning and engagement among data science, business analytics, computer science and informatics students among degree and non-degree students to increase regional industry graduate retentions.

Ivy Tech Community College, South Bend - Elkhart
Ivy Tech Community College will expand and purchase new Industry 4.0-enabling training technology to be housed within the Ivy Tech Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Automation. Specifically, Ivy Tech Community College will purchase the world-class Amatrol Enterprise System (AES) which will enable the new Ivy Tech Smart Manufacturing and Digital Integration (SMDI) degree, new SACA credentials, as well as the expansion of work-based learning experiences for Industry 4.0 to support current and emergent needs of regional industry.

Purdue Polytechnic Institute, South Bend
Purdue Polytechnic Institute will launch an Industry 4.0 Industry Advancement Certification and industry-aligned incumbent worker training initiative. Purdue Polytechnic Institute will purchase a LEAN training simulator and module sets that facilitate key manufacturing and Industry 4.0 engineering and production efficiency competencies, and align industry needs to promote enhanced production. As a unique industry training asset for the region, the simulator may be transported any training area or space. Purdue Polytechnic Institute will also collaborate with Indiana University South Bend to launch the K-12 STEM Summer Academy focused on computer science and industrial engineering pathways to increase the pipeline of under-represented minority students enrolling in high school and college engineering programs of study. The K-12 STEM Summer Academy will be piloted with South Bend Community School Corporation and expand regionally beyond the pilot.

Saint Mary’s College
Saint Mary’s College will develop an Industry Credentialing Lab that will support talent development by creating a pipeline of skill-credentialed, industry-ready graduates within the South Bend - Elkhart regional workforce, with earned credentials alongside a bachelor’s and/or master’s degree available to students of every major and minor. The project further supports adult and incumbent skill training and retraining and cultivates the entrepreneurial capacity and economic opportunity of under-resourced women, especially women of color.