Wabash County expands ‘Promise’, adopts region’s Big Goal

June 9th, 2014

June 9, 2014

Wabash County expands 'Promise', adopts region's Big Goal

College savings program expands to 3 new pilot communities and adopts regional initiative

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - College savings accounts in Wabash County for Kindergarten through third grade students have skyrocketed from 6% to 72% through the work of Wabash County Promise--a county-wide collaborative effort to help Wabash County children develop a hope and expectation of attending college. Wabash County Promise is now expanding its program into three new pilot communities, and is officially adopting Northeast Indiana's "Big Goal."

Wabash County Promise In less than a year, Wabash County Promise has increased CollegeChoice 529 college savings accounts for K-3 students by 66%. The effort also included ongoing awareness and college and career discovery activities for students at their home schools that culminated with a visit to Manchester University. As a result of the program's success, the Wabash County Promise will assist in piloting the program in three additional Northeast Indiana counties--LaGrange, Noble and Whitley--through a partnership between the Indiana Education Savings Authority (IESA) and the Wabash County YMCA, which is the lead agency for Wabash County Promise.

"Students who have their own savings accounts are seven times more likely to attend college. They feel excited about their future and are engaged in what's going on in the classroom. We are creating hope and a future for these students, and we're eager to expand the program to additional counties in our region," said Clint Kugler, Chief Executive Officer of the Wabash County YMCA.

The Wabash County YMCA will work with each community to provide tools and resources to help streamline the enrollment process for students and encourage and educate teachers, employers, and community leaders within each participating county. Efforts will focus on developing community-wide and regional goals for increasing awareness of the importance of educational attainment and saving for the future. They will also place an emphasis on recruiting and empowering local community members to act as "champions" for individual students.

"Each of the activities that are part of the Wabash County Promise will inspire hope for the future in the lives of our youth," said Parker Beauchamp, president of insurance and risk management firm INGUARD and early champion for the Wabash County Promise. "The benefits of instilling hope are too numerous to count; hope is the greatest predictor of future success." INGUARD will continue to sponsor the Wabash County Promise in 2014.

The connection between students' ambitions early on and their success later in life has led Wabash County Promise to adopt the region's Big Goal.

The Big Goal is one of the priorities identified through the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership's Vision 2020 initiative. It aims to increase the percentage of Northeast Indiana residents with high-quality degrees or credentials to 60% by 2025.

"If we want to have the kind of workforce that businesses need, we have to encourage our students to not stop their education with a high school diploma. We applaud Wabash County for taking their local success and expanding it regionally. Being able to scale successful programs like this will greatly help in our ability to reach the region's 60% attainment goal," said Ryan Twiss, director of the Big Goal Collaborative at the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

The Big Goal Collaborative launched in 2012 under the 21st Century Talent Pillar of Vision 2020 and is a regional movement comprised of educators, community partners, businesses, civic leaders and others from throughout Northeast Indiana committed to the Big Goal. Several organizations in Northeast Indiana have lent their support to the Big Goal, including the Community Foundation of Wabash County, North Adams Community Schools, Northeast Indiana Works, Fort Wayne Metals and the Mayors' and Commissioners' Caucus. For more information about the Big Goal Collaborative, visit www.neindiana.com/vision/biggoal.

The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership focused on generating business leads and building regional capacity through product development and effective regional collaboration. The Northeast Indiana Fund (Fund) was created in 2005 to operate as a supporting organization of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, focused specifically on product development and regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. Through its combined efforts in business development and capacity building, the Partnership supports its 10 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties. For more information, visit www.NEIndiana.com.

To learn more about the Wabash County Promise or discuss how you can get involved, please contact Amanda Jones-Layman at 260-563-9622 or ajones-layman@wabashcountymca.org.

Photo caption: Manchester University student Curtis Nordman shows Wabash County elementary students an interactive math game at the "Walk Into My Future" event held last fall. The event celebrated students' dreams for the future as part of the Wabash County Promise.



Courtney Tritch
Director of Marketing
Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership