Celebrate the #heartofafterschool!

The Indiana Afterschool Network is joining the National AfterSchool Association in celebrating the professionals that are at the heart of afterschool programs during the Afterschool Professionals Appreciation Week.

An estimated 10.2 million children participate in afterschool programs each year. Today, afterschool programs are viewed as much more than just childcare. They are widely credited as the way to enhance education in STEM, literacy, the arts, social and emotional learning, health and wellness, and more. With that demand comes increased responsibility on the estimated 850,000 professionals who are making a difference in the lives of our children. 

We Believe Afterschool Professionals Make a Difference in the Life of a Child

Join us in thanking the afterschool professionals in your life! 
Some ideas on how you can show your appreciation:
  • An email to the staff member's manager or administrator
  • Awards for specific areas of strength of staff members (Best Communicator with Parents, STEM Star Award, Most Positive, etc.)
  • Hand-written cards from you and/or your child
  • Make treats for the staff at your afterschool program
  • Spread the message! Use the hashtag #HEARTOFAFTERSCHOOL to share your appreciation of the afterschool professionals in your life.

For more resources and information check out

Celebrating Indiana Afterschool Professionals
and Indiana Program Champions!

See below for CHAMPION stories of engagement - as told by our finalists!

The first and second place winners were chosen by their peers, in a live vote by all 2018 Summit participants.

As a part of the 2018 Summit on Out-of-School Learning on April 9-10, five finalists were selected from programs nominated from across the state, and honored for making strides in engaging stakeholders.
Stakeholder engagement is the intentional approach to involve the people who are affected by the decisions that each organization makes. The stakeholders vary based on age, experience and support but all are focused on achieving common outcomes. Involving people and developing relationships results in increased trust. And where there is trust, people work together more easily and effectively resulting in improved motivation, business planning and performance. A more conscientious and measured approach to stakeholder engagement is essential for long-term sustainability.

In afterschool we have a lot of stakeholders to consider!

This year we searched for the BEST Out-of-School Time programs that are defining passion, purpose and impact with the following stakeholder groups:

1. Engaging Staff
2. Engaging Parents
3. Engaging Community

Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation 
Winner of the 2018 Out-of-School Time Champion Award

Among many programs and events that we host for our community to come out, engage, learn and break bread with us the newest and most impactful for our community, families and youth is our Community Unity Night Event. This event came about due to the unfortunate death of a young adult on our property during the time we had youth in the building. We had staff that did not want to talk to the officers. We found this to be due to (negative) experiences they had personally had or seen their family members have with the police or events they heard of. Our event brings our police department together with the community in a open non-threatening engaging environment. 
Though our event is older teens and adults in the community, we know this reaches our youth because in order for them to change, it has to start at home.It gives the community an opportunity to ask questions of the officers and receive general information which can help them learn and understand more about the job of an officer and why they have to take some of the actions that they do. This program opened the doors for more productive communication between those in the community and officers, it set a precedence that we are working to unite and be the positive influencer for the good of our community but especially our youth. 

 We now have a partner officer program which allows for us to have 1 officer in the center with the youth, to engage and be a part of their activities. The youth get to build a genuine relationships with the officers through play and learning. The program we have established is small but it is building bridges and given insight to those that need to work together, be there for each other and trust one another- families and our police department.

Lide White Memorial Boys & Girls Club
Second Place 2018 Out-of-School Time Champion Award

Because of our county's high rates of babies born addicted to drugs, our organization hosts many children who have developmental delays and disorders (such as, ADD, ADHD, Autism, Sensory Processing Disorder, etc.). Such delays and disorders often come with an inability to focus with background activity occurring or deal with loud noises, things that occur constantly in a Boys & Girls Club. In response to this need in our community we applied for grant funding and became the first Boys & Girls Club in Indiana to have a Sensory Center where children can go to calm down or channel their boundless energy into activities that will give them the sensory input needed.

Rather than rely on a center alone to meet these needs, we reached out to connect with those in the community who can engage the children at our organization in highly specialized ways. Ramanda is a volunteer who engages our youth in weekly Expressive Movement Therapy through dance. Destiny is an intern certified in both Human Services and Addiction Therapy and runs a weekly program called SMART Girls: "a small-group health, fitness, prevention/education and self-esteem enhancement program [for] ages 8 to 18" (BGCA, 2017). Jim is a former army ranger currently working in the local ER who volunteers by mentoring boys in our weekly Passport to Manhood program: "a targeted effort to engage young boys (8-14) in discussions and activities that reinforce character, leadership and positive behavior" (BGCA, 2017).

By engaging and connecting with specialists in the community we are able to provide services for the at-risk children within our Club: services that parents in the community wouldn't normally have access to. With 20.2% of youth in the county living under the poverty level (Kids Count, 2016) and so many of them living with developmental differences, we are proud to be an organization that is inclusive of all neurotypes and diagnoses, garnering the skills of the community at large to make a difference in our community together. Because of this impactful focus on engaging community strengths to support youth, we are an Out-of-School Learning Champion.
AYS, Inc.

AYS strives to consistently improve employee engagement in order to retain highly qualified employees and ensure that investments in professional development benefit the children we serve. In October 2016, AYS put data behind our employee engagement initiative by beginning to utilize Emplify employee engagement surveys. Emplify asks employees a series of questions to determine engagement based on three psychological conditions (meaning, safety and capacity), as well as 14 key engagement drivers. Following the initial survey results, AYS began to implement semi-annual Town Hall Meetings, the first of which took place in May 2017. This offered an opportunity for all AYS employees to come together to learn more about the "state of the organization." With approximately 40 sites across five counties, it is critical that we offer opportunities for staff to come together as one organization.
Michigan City Area Schools Safe Harbor

MCAS Safe Harbor is dedicated to engaging our community. We engage community volunteers and partners to create a sustainable K-12 program that is integral in developing the ideals of STEM in our community. To achieve this goal, we empower local engineers as mentors in our unique afterschool environment. We ignite passions for science and technology through exciting, mentor based research and robotics programs which help transform students into well rounded contributors to their community.   

Each year, our robotics team mentors volunteer over 1,200 hours of their time, primarily with our FIRST robotics teams. The engagement of our community has a wide reaching impact. Parents and students have reached out to Safe Harbor mentors to express gratitude for the program. Business owners and companies throughout the community are integrated into our program, mentor within our STEM programs, and reach out to our high school robotics students to offer internships and additional employment opportunities. These connections offer profound opportunities to our students, but also provide our students with a meaningful connection to the community. 

Safe Harbor creates a bridge which allows our students to impact our community and our community to impact our students. We arrange excursions for our students to visit local businesses and universities to expand their view of college and career opportunities within their community.  Safe Harbor provides opportunities for students to participate as active members of the community. For example, our students designed a sensory room at Michigan City High School as a community service project to help students with sensory and behavioral challenges. Our robotics team students have even arranged a symbiotic relationship with our neighboring city of LaPorte in which our students build electrical panels for the city in exchange for funding which sponsors the team's travel expenses for state and national competitions. Short term goals of engaging the community include connecting students and alumni with local manufacturing companies for summer internships. Long term goals include tracking alumni for post high school education and career choices. Safe Harbor works hand in hand with our community to enrich the lives of our students.

ProAct Indy

Patch Adams once said, "We can never get a re-creation of community and heal our society without giving our citizens a sense of belonging." That same sentiment fuels ProAct's mission to engage youth in public service that educates, delights, and inspires youth and those they serve. Since 2010, ProAct has been helping youth build solid foundations based on relationships and service to help address poverty and education. Through its primary service learning programs - Project Greater Than Me (ages 14-18) and Kids in Action (ages 10-14) - ProAct recruits students experiencing academic struggles or self-esteem and behavioral issues. Without positive intervention, these students are at risk to struggle academically, make poor life decisions, and experience other negative outcomes. When given a sense of purpose and belonging, these youths redirect their community involvement from violence, intolerance, and other negative behaviors to positive behaviors through purposeful community service.

ProAct partners with community leaders and corporate partners to provide Indianapolis-area disadvantaged youth with character education, academic enrichment, and critical service-learning opportunities that are conducted in a social justice context. Working in cohorts of 15-20 students, students are engaged in weekly character education workshops and monthly service-learning projects for 24-weeks during academic school year. Using this model, we have watched our students learn and utilize skills that make meaningful, positive contributions to their own communities. While providing service to others, they build character, confidence, and self-esteem within themselves.

Short-term goals for youths include increased acquisition of problem solving skills, increased knowledge of Indianapolis's city resources, and increased sense of fellowship with community members. Long-term goals include increased self-esteem, increased cultural competencies, and increased empathy. Outcomes are measured through reflection journals, academic tracking sheets, and pre/post self-assessments. Evidence of success is also displayed in increased self-esteem, efficacy, and citizenship, academic success, higher level thinking, and reflection on ethical/moral issues.

ProAct involves residents, schools, community organizations, and local businesses in its community projects, giving all stakeholders a sense of empowerment and ownership in their neighborhoods and in resolving the most pressing issues that impact their lives. 
Indiana Afterschool Network 317-822-8211