A Note From Chrystal
President & CEO
No one suspected what 2020 would bring. From unpredictability, restrictions,
sorrow, and fear to racial injustice, violence, death, and outrage, we’ve seen
it all. But we’ve also seen communities come together in solidarity to support
one another through COVID-19 and the intense realization of the pain so
many in our community—people of color—face every day. At AYS, we continue to
focus on the gifts of this time and how we can use our experiences to improve
our work and best serve our families and the community.
I owe special thanks to our staff—those at the forefront of youth
development—who are putting our AYS youth and their families first. This year
has been especially challenging for them as we have asked them to shift and
adjust again and again to re-imagine programming to best meet the most pressing
COVID-19 caused a lot of changes, but we continued to provide for those
needed it most throughout the spring and summer. From operating emergency
pop-up sites for essential worker families during “stay at home” orders to
shifting our summer camps to enrichment programs focused on minimizing learning
loss, we’ve proven that even when every other window is dark, AYS keeps the
lights on. Throughout an unprecedented and uncertain time, we needed our families,
and they needed us. Details on these programs can be found here.
Additionally, the events of 2020 have encouraged AYS to reexamine its
strategy for diversity, equity, and inclusion. While we have always been
dedicated to these ideals, it’s clear that a formal rededication, not just to
them, but to anti-racism and anti-oppression, is necessary. Therefore, we
formed an advisory council that will guide us in strategic planning to improve
policy and practice. We are committed to building and supporting an inclusive
team of diverse individuals through intentional hiring, placement and on-going
training so we can continue to weave diversity, equity, and
inclusion into the fabric of our organization.
We know our current enrichment model, while critical to many, does
not serve all. Therefore, we are launching a community assessment with key
stakeholders that will help us craft our programming models to ensure all
kids in central Indiana have access to quality social emotional learning and
academic supports. We want Indiana kids to have the best tools in their
backpacks to map their path to success.
Through the generous support of our donors, including the Coca-Cola Company,
Eli Lilly and Company, and the United Way of Central Indiana, we’ve been
keeping our programs going despite the difficulties of COVID-19. In FY19, we
received a generous endowment from Eli Lilly Endowment, and we’re using that
endowment to fund a community assessment, restructure our database, perform
a much-needed technology upgrade, and create a 403(b) plan for our employees.
We know this year has made families struggle financially and emotionally,
and we’re here to help by providing a safe, enriching environment where
children can learn and grow while parents are at work. We appreciate all
of the support we’ve received so far, and we’re grateful to have you in
our AYS family.