Roots, a restaurant owned by Ball State University alumnus Scott Wise, operates on a mission of growth and service to the underserved. Since 1996, Scott has run his business with the community in mind. Now, Scott’s 24 restaurants and more than 2,000 employees serve as a launchpad for his philanthropic passion for spreading good. After surviving his brush with death in the form of a traumatic brain disease, the urge to do good reignited Scott’s vigor towards using his businesses and influence for the public good.

An Erskine Green trainee works in the kitchen at Roots Burger Bar“Kim Dodson approached me about partnering on a project with Erskine Green Training Institute to help build and teach individuals with challenges how to be productive in the restaurant workplace,” said Scott. “I got to see the authentic ‘good’ in people come out with smiles, offering guidance, and a genuine acceptance of the human heart and spirit. I want to achieve a goal that 10 percent of our entire workforce would be challenged by Down’s Syndrome, brain injury, autism, or any other physical or mental challenge that had prevented them from finding employment; we would open that door.”

The partnership between Roots and EGTI allowed the latter to continue to train those they serve while waiting for a permanent facility to become available. Today, Scott remains committed to the mission this partnership presented and continues to do good.

Erskine Green Training Institute logoEGTI is a postsecondary vocational training program that provides training in various jobs within the hotel, food service, and healthcare environment. EGTI opened its doors to students in January 2016 and has 243 graduates after six years of operation. Eight months after graduation, nearly 80 percent of EGTI students have secured employment. “One of our April 2020 graduates moved back home to Kokomo after graduating from EGTI and secured a job as a kitchen cook,” says Megan Stevenson, Director of Erskine Green Training Institute. “After working for a while, he decided he wanted to further his culinary education. Since he was very familiar with the Muncie community and knew how to ride MITS from his training at EGTI, he talked to his parents about moving back to Muncie, getting his own apartment, and enrolling in Ivy Tech – and that is exactly what he did! It has been so neat to see him living his best life and pushing himself to grow.”

Many employees of EGTI are Ball State graduates. Their knowledge and experience with campus activities and the Muncie community allow EGTI students’ social lives to blossom during their stay at the Courtyard Muncie. The staff’s connections with their professors are of particular note as they have been able to speak to classes about EGTI and recruit part-time staff and mentors for EGTI’s students.

Ball State is known as one of the most accessible campuses, a fact the University takes great pride in as inclusive excellence is one of its top goals. The University is proud to support Scott Wise and Roots as they demonstrate this continued dedication to underserved people even after graduation.