IU South Bend Awarded LIFT Grant to Enhance Digital Skills Pipeline in the Region
IU South Bend has received a $350,000 Phase II Digital Skills Accelerator grant from the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network. The grant aims to enhance and develop digital skills in computer science, health sciences, and data analytics for K-12 students and teachers, adult learners, and degree seekers in Elkhart and St. Joseph County.
The LIFT Network, in conjunction with the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, is a regional consortium of colleges and non-profits, led by the University of Notre Dame and the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership, to equip the region’s industries and residents with technology and advanced manufacturing skills for the future. Funding to catalyze the network is made possible by a $42.4 million Lilly Endowment Inc. grant to Notre Dame, awarded in 2019.
“The grant is an opportunity for IU South Bend to extend our programming and partnerships in Elkhart and St. Joseph County to offer opportunities to enhance digital skills for K-12 students and teachers and improve digital competency for adult learners,” said Tom Stevick, interim vice chancellor for university relations. “We will offer certificates and continuing education to help people advance in their current jobs and obtain new jobs.”
The grant will help IU South Bend create a digital pipeline to strengthen existing and new pathways and degree completion opportunities. Programs will include a K-12 Summer Academy, Continuing Education Unit (CEU) opportunities in health sciences for current and future workers, degree enrichment applied and experiential experiences, workplace-based learning, and a new data analytics certificate.
A portion of the LIFT funding will be used to create the Innovation Maker Lab, which will be equipped with the technology to support hands-on learning projects for a variety of learners.
K-12 students will benefit from summer immersion experiences in the Innovation Maker Lab to encourage them into careers in computer science, informatics, and interactive media arts. In addition, the Lab will provide professional development opportunities for K-12 teachers to strengthen computer science education in their classroom and become a resource for their students. The Maker Lab will also enhance IU South Bend students applied and experiential learning opportunities, positioning them well to compete for jobs in the region.
To prepare the regional workforce with highly sought sonography skills, where dozens of jobs go unfilled, the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences will use LIFT grant funds to purchase sonography and telehealth equipment. A CEU-generating program will train current health care workers who require sonography skills. In addition, sonography education will be integrated into the curriculum for undergraduate and graduate students, preparing them with the competitive skills needed to obtain well-paying jobs.
To support advancement in health care professions, the Office of Continuing Education (OCE) will launch a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program at the IUSB main campus, with plans to expand to other locations in the region. The CNA is a route to upward mobility into the health care field, encouraging students to work toward bachelor’s degrees in health science. With the LIFT grant, an Electronic Health Records component will be added to distinguish the certification from other programs.
Leveraging the Torres Family Data Analytics Lab in the Judd Leighton School of Business and Economics, the school will add a Data Analytics Certificate. The certificate will prepare IU South Bend undergraduate and graduate students with the skills to compete for highly sought jobs in the region. The Torres Analytics Lab will also serve as a resource for workplace-based learning and on-campus workshops.
By activating internal resources, external partnerships, and LIFT funds, IU South Bend will support a diverse set of students. To reach under-represented populations and enhance opportunities in the region, the campus will partner with South Bend Community School Corporation, La Casa de Amistad, and regional workplaces.
“The LIFT grant will help us create new initiatives and enhance existing resources to advance the digital competencies for the diverse population in our region, preparing them to excel in the careers of the future.” said IU South Bend Chancellor Susan Elrod. “It furthers our mission to be a catalyst for social mobility and a driver of economic vitality in our region.
About the Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network:
The Labs for Industry Futures and Transformation (LIFT) Network was established to formalize the collaborative opportunities among the South Bend – Elkhart Region’s innovation, R&D, workforce training and educational assets to provide a comprehensive portfolio of cutting-edge resources to support advancement in the region’s key industrial sectors. Collectively these efforts will support the South Bend – Elkhart region through the transformation to an increasingly digital and automated future, enhancing the current manufacturing base with new business models, technologies and tailored workforce training programs while accelerating new high-tech sector growth in the region. For more information about the LIFT Network, visit liftsbe.org.
LIFT Network and the associated iNDustry Labs at Notre Dame were catalyzed by a $42.4 million grant awarded to the University of Notre Dame in 2019 from Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant supports Notre Dame’s partnership with the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership in establishing and advancing the LIFT Network.