Earlhamites are piloting a new workforce development initiative in partnership with local business and education leaders in Wayne County.
Mirai Possibility is a project of 2022 graduate Michael Dallas, rising senior David Huang and rising junior Momo Hirose. It was developed on campus as part of the Epic Grand Challenge, Earlham’s flagship social entrepreneurship competition.
The team will help county high school students who are not college bound to grow in their work-related skills. By doing so, the aim is to strengthen the Wayne County workforce in general.
Northeastern Wayne Schools in Fountain City, Indiana, will select five high school juniors or seniors interested in the program at the start of the 2022-23 academic year. Tiedemann-Bevs, a Wayne County-based textiles and casket interior manufacturer will work with Earlham mentors to offer workshops that build skills in the areas of leadership, communication, problem-solving and the basics of machinery. The program ends with an internship at Tiedemann-Bevs.
“This pilot program is aimed at students that are planning to join the workforce post-graduation and this presents them with opportunities to gain valuable workplace experiences that will help them,” Northeastern High School Principal John Markward said. “The goal is that these individuals will use these experiences to obtain employment in Wayne County to grow our local workforce.”
Andy Lawrence, the president and CEO of Tiedemann-Bevs, says students will develop skills that employers value in today’s workplace.
“First impressions are so critical and many workers lack the soft skills they need to be successful,” Lawrence said. “If we can build a better workforce for Wayne County, we’re going to draw more businesses and more people here—especially at a time when the labor market is struggling to meet demand.”
The Earlham team developed Mirai Possibility over the last year after consulting with the Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce and other local businesses. The Earlham Center for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity mentored the team.
“Working with Mirai connected me to amazing minds and helped me solidify my passions,” said Dallas, a California native who earned a degree in global management from Earlham in May.
“Working with local partners has been important in my professional development as I’ve learned more about the real-world side of my degree,” he said.
The Mirai team has grown by three Earlham students as the program prepares to launch this fall. Joining the original three is Patrick Wande, Bradley Oliver and Georgios Tegos. The group is motivated by the opportunity to address local challenges and transform communities, Hirose said.
“Mirai has shown me the incredible power that a single idea can hold when put into motion,” said Hirose, a global management major from Japan.
“We all come from different backgrounds and countries, but we share a passion and can do more than we could alone. These connections are what have truly made my experience at Earlham much more fulfilling and will continue to give me the strength needed to pursue my goals in the future as well.”