United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024

United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024

United Way Northwest Indiana is set to be more mobile and reach more communities than ever before starting Friday, May 10, as the nonprofit unveiled its Economic Mobile Unit. Made in collaboration with WorkOne Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) and NIPSCO, the unit is a van fully furnished with computers and networking equipment – all meant to bring career and economic development opportunities straight to those in need.

United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024

United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024 15 Photos
United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024United Way NWI Mobile Unit Reveal 2024

The mobile unit is part of a United Way Northwest Indiana program known as Level Up, an effort to help struggling, working individuals develop new skills, stabilize their finances, and carve paths to better paying jobs. United Way Northwest Indiana and CWI found that many Region residents want to take advantage of the opportunities presented by Level Up, but lack the transportation or free time to travel out to connect with United Way or WorkOne resources. The Economic Mobile Unit is designed to bridge that gap.

“The need for something like this is massive,” Shaun Sahlhoff, director of planning and fundraising at CWI, said. “We’ve heard from clients and potential clients that access issues are some of the top five reasons why they might not be taking advantage of these opportunities. Between hurdles like transportation issues and child care, being able to deliver our services directly to communities is an amazing opportunity.”

To turn the ambitious project into reality, the two organizations turned towards NIPSCO for help – and the energy company responded with a $100,000 grant.

“None of this would be possible without NIPSCO,” Sahlhoff said. “United Way and CWI had been tossing around this idea for a while, and when we approached NIPSCO they said they’d be excited to help. Partnering with them to deliver something like this is game changing for communities in the Region.”

Alexius Barber, public affairs and economic development manager for NIPSCO, was thrilled to see the finished van unveiled.

“Sometimes individuals have children, daycare, or other issues going on and they simply can’t come out to the resources that they really need,” Barber said. “I think that this is a very innovative way to solve that problem, and that’s what NIPSCO loves to do – be innovative and meet our customers where they are. It’s exciting to help the Level Up program move out into the world.”

While Level Up is focused on assisting the underemployed, WorkOne focuses on assisting active jobseekers – including the unemployed. By collaborating, the two agencies are aiming to assist as many Region residents as possible.

“The van is going to be staffed by a mix of WorkOne staff, our own Level Up staff, and potentially some recruiters,” Adam O’Doherty, CEO of United Way Northwest Indiana, said. “That partnership is going to allow us to serve anyone that walks up to that van, whether they're employed or unemployed.”

The Economic Mobile Unit will travel around the Region to different job fairs and career expos, as well as other community-wide events. It is also set to travel out to different churches, businesses, libraries, and other organizations – any place where it is invited to come by and help residents “Level Up.”

“We’re going to sit down with WorkOne CWI to plot out a calendar for the summer to really hit the ground running,” said O’Doherty. “We’ll go right into those communities where transportation is a barrier. We’ll be on foot, knocking on doors, bringing people out, and getting them excited about finding employment or up-scaling their careers.”

To learn more about United Way Northwest Indiana and the Level Up program, visit unitedwaynwi.org. For more information on NIPSCO, see nipsco.com. For more on Center of Workforce Innovations and WorkOne, check out cwicorp.com.