Why Our Middle Class Matters:
A Look at the past & future of indianapolis
A letter from Jamie Merisotis, President & CEO of Lumina Foundation and Art Bilger, Founder & CEO of WorkingNation
America is essentially a middle-class country. What specifically defines the middle class can vary from city to city, town to town, but being able to take care of yourself and your family financially is an intrinsic, deeply felt part of it. To get there, you need a good job. You need a good career.
The pandemic cost millions of people across the country their jobs—some temporarily, some permanently—and thus pushed them further away from attaining the middle-class American dream.
How you get back on track can also differ from community to community. That is the focus of a new series of WorkingNation documentaries and digital magazines examining the pathways to the middle class across the country.
First up—The Middle: Indianapolis.
We chose Indianapolis because it is the perfect example of the shift in the economy brought on by advances in technology and globalization. Manufacturing jobs once dominated here as they did in the rest of the country. But as automation and AI become a more prominent part of how we do our work, those jobs have given way to more tech-centric jobs across most industries.
In these pages, we take a closer look at how this city of 890,000 has remade itself to keep up with these changes and how those efforts have helped it attract established companies and startups. This is creating new jobs. And just as in other parts of the country, though not all the jobs here require a college degree, most require some tech and digital skills.
When we first started the documentary three years ago, that change was already well underway. The pandemic has accelerated the pace of change, increasing the need for workers with different skills. What was once expected to take 10 years has happened in 10 months.
In The Middle: Indianapolis, we examine the challenges inherent in upskilling workers and preparing prospective employees for these new roles. We take a look at what higher education means now and at the efforts to ensure opportunity for everyone who wants to learn the skills needed for a good job—regardless of race, color, gender, or socioeconomic status.
This is not happening in a vacuum. Community leaders in Indianapolis are working together to build a solid foundation and pathway to a good middle-class life for its residents. It takes collaboration on a local level to reach this common goal. We share the stories of how they pursue this mission.
And throughout these pages you will meet the people of Indianapolis. Some of them started their careers in manufacturing and have had to learn new skills. Others are just starting their journey and looking for answers. They all have something in common: They are striving for a secure and comfortable life for themselves and their families—striving to reach the middle class.
WorkingNation and Lumina Foundation are proud to be working together to tell these important stories.
Lumina Foundation President & CEO
WorkingNation Founder & CEO