gps-logoGenesis: Pathways to Success (GPS), the STEM initiative of Ripley County Community Foundation, in partnership with Batesville, Jac-Cen-Del, Milan and South Ripley School Corporations, was the catalyst for a grant to implement a community and employer-recognized work ethic certification program. South Ripley School Corporation will serve as fiscal agent in the management of this $20,000 grant.

Forty-two grant applications representing 132 school corporations from across Indiana were submitted to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to support the development and implementation of the Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate (WEC) program. The 18 selected pilot programs will implement programming during the 2017-18 school year. The grant also requires recipients to develop a “Train the Trainer” plan to train neighboring school districts in an effort to replicate the program in their communities.

“For the past eight years, and probably long before that, we’ve heard from employers that there is a lack of ‘soft skills’ in the workforce. The Governor’s WEC provides a model that will help young people understand the value and benefit of not only a strong work ethic, but also a level of professionalism that is expected by employers,” said Cheryll Obendorf, director of GPS.

The Governor’s WEC is part of an ongoing effort to encourage collaboration among employers, local school districts and career centers. Employer input is required during the development of a program to provide high school students with the understanding of the employability skills in demand by local employers.

“Hoosier employers routinely cite employability skills as the most challenging characteristics to find in applicants and new hires,” said Steven J. Braun, DWD Commissioner. “The Governor’s Work Ethic Certificate program is designed to provide Hoosier employers with a pipeline of workers with a proven work ethic and assist Indiana communities in closing the skills gap.”

In Ripley County, 10 employers provided letters of support for the consortium’s application. Those employers confirmed the value of these employability skills by offering promises of advisory board members, applicant pool preference and guaranteed job interviews to the graduates receiving the WEC.

“We were excited to see the Ripley County schools included among those awarded grants by the Department of Workforce Development,” said South Ripley Superintendent Rob Moorhead. “We have developed strong collaborative relationships among the four public school districts in Ripley County and look forward to partnering with our business community to develop the parameters for the Work Ethic Certificates that can be earned by our graduates. This will help to strengthen the College and Career readiness activities that are already under way in each school district.”

High school seniors who successfully complete the program will receive a Governor’s WEC, signed by the Governor of Indiana and the Indiana DWD Commissioners.

“We look forward to the day when we are able to quickly identify job applicants with the Work Ethic Certificate in order to give them preference in the applicant pool,” said Jenny Darnold, regional senior vice president of retail banking at German American Bank.

The GPS Success Action Team is a coalition of business, manufacturing, education, healthcare and government representatives in Ripley County that assembles regularly to determine workforce and education needs that impact the economy of Ripley County. This team recognizes the value of the Work Ethic Certificate.

“We are excited to be one of the first communities in the state to offer the Work Ethic Certification program to the students in our area,” Batesville Mayor Mike Bettice commented. “We know that developing the ‘soft skills’ needed to enter the workforce is critical but often overlooked. Students will have the opportunity to develop organizational skills and learn how to be a team player while understanding the importance of being punctual and respectful of others. I want to personally thank Cheryll and the GPS Action Team for their hard work in making sure students in our area are provided with the tools necessary to address the professional and technical challenges they may face when starting a career.”

Genesis: Pathways to Success (GPS) is an initiative of the Ripley County Community Foundation dedicated to empowering students to succeed in STEM by developing programs in areas such as engineering, agriculture, health science and technology as well as by supporting events that encourage students to apply curious minds and critical thinking skills to real-world opportunities. GPS generates ongoing and meaningful dialogue and collaboration to prepare a talent pipeline for a globally dynamic marketplace. For additional information, please visit

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