The school year is now in full swing! Can you believe September is almost over? We are beyond excited to have the classrooms filled and to experience the year fully in person. With all that has changed, we know it has been difficult for the students to get back into a normal routine. We have worked tirelessly to make our programs this year exciting, to celebrate the fresh start of a new semester. There is nothing more meaningful than reconnecting with the children and families of our community. We look forward to continuing to stay connected and providing enrichment opportunities for the students of central Indiana.

Your continued financial support is important to our organization at this time, given the staffing shortages and transitions that are taking place. The need has been growing and we are working harder than ever to double down on our financial assistance funding and academic support programming. Donations directly help us provide the most impactful experiences for the students and families of AYS. All donations go directly toward improving our program curriculum and providing affordable fees for our AYS families. The happiness and satisfaction of our community is the center of everything we do. Help us to create a meaningful experience for every family in our programs by donating today.

The team members at our sites are responsible for making our programs possible and ensuring all our programs run smoothly. As we transition back into a normal routine, we are looking to expand our staff. We are specifically engaging college and high school students 16 years and older. This opportunity will give students a chance to give back while also providing an opportunity for them to explore careers in education and youth development. Our children will gain a positive experience from these as well. Having high school and college students will help us fill roles and provide the children with an opportunity to learn, grow and spend time with someone who attended their school. If you or anyone you know is interested in filling the role of Youth Development Associate or Leader, you can learn more about the position and apply here.

We have come such a long way since last year. Your continued support and engagement have helped us continue to provide high quality services to our families. Thank you for being a part of our family and for supporting us while we transition back to our traditional programming.

While looking forward is a vital component to our success, remembering where we’ve been
(and the heroes who made it possible) ensures we never lose our way. Ellen Clippinger, our founder, remembers Nancy Mallon, whose spirit and leadership helped create the foundation of AYS.

Nancy Mallon: a superior leader/organizer and technology expert, a believer in the AYS mission, and a true friend of At-Your-School Child Services (later shortened to AYS by our many parents). 

Nancy joined the AYS administrative staff in 1994-1995. AYS had just moved into its first official office at 4720 N. Park, Indianapolis, IN. This office was a former pastor’s house for First Meridian Heights Presbyterian Church (AYS’ first community partner). The church minister served on the AYS board and agreed to our renting of the house. Though I had professionals refinish the floors, build basement shelves, and install window blinds, I had little furniture for the staff. Nancy, upon recognizing the dilemma, immediately notified her husband, Dave, who’s law firm (Ice Miller LLP) was discarding furniture. Within a few days, several desks, chairs, tables, etc. were delivered to AYS and arranged by Nancy. What a contribution to the agency! I used my desk until I retired in 2014, and it was a treasure. 

Imagine our new office: a house with a large living room which could hold several desks.  Though Nancy’s desk was toward the back window, she was the one who greeted most people who came in the door, as the other staff were usually visiting program sites. Nancy was the perfect representative, as she understood the mission of AYS. Her son had attended an AYS program at Crooked Creek, along with my son. She was empathetic of parents’ needs and worked well with all people. 

Nancy seemed to look for projects that would not only help AYS but would also satisfy her ambition to conquer new challenges. She took on many major projects during her time with AYS.   

First, she mastered computers. After I hired a receptionist and office manager, Nancy started managing all systems for computers and electronic devices. She moved to a new office on the lower floor (actually, the basement) and worked with Beth Koenen-Seelbach, who was also proficient in computer skills. She had no fear of these “new things.” She enrolled in a computer literacy class and shared what she learned with the team. Nancy researched the most efficient computers and negotiated with many vendors to obtain quality computers within the AYS budget. Computer efficiency was Nancy’s goal for all of us. Betty Tuller took over this position after Nancy retired. She commented on how organized and efficient the technology system was at AYS. Thank you, Nancy. 

Second, Nancy led the AYS Link project with Eli Lilly Co. AYS Link was a resource and referral branch of our services to the community and was funded by Work Family Directions through Eli Lilly. The goal was to provide information to Lilly parents for them to seek licensed and accredited providers for infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school-age children. In preparation, Nancy helped to secure special phone lines and organize the basement room. She became a mentor to the new staff hired for this project. Mary Lou Hadley remembers how kind and thoughtful Nancy was with our team. 

Third, Nancy organized new program staff appreciation initiatives. Special events were held annually, often at a church. Many churches opened their doors to AYS staff for appreciation suppers, fundraisers, parent events, and training. One major event that Nancy took on was Thank A Youth Worker Day. The national annual event was recognized through efforts of The Journey, a program based on reflection, renewal, and appreciation for youth workers. Nancy embraced the project. She called on her friends and relatives to help fill baskets and deliver them to various school sites. 

Fourth, Nancy stepped into the role of helping me. She became my assistant, placing calls, typing minutes, electronically sending agendas for meetings, etc. I was elected president of NSACA (National School-Age Care Alliance), and all meetings, except the annual meeting, were held by conference call. Nancy would set the phone link and the board would discuss national issues of promoting an accreditation system, setting the next annual meeting, etc. In 2000, the NSACA board selected Indianapolis as the National Conference and annual meeting site for April 2001. Nancy took on organizing this conference with AYS staff and other local providers. They searched the community for business supporters, gifts for speakers, and other Indianapolis events participants might enjoy. Nancy was the one who suggested Ken Blanchard, author of the One Minute Manager, as the keynote speaker. Nancy just happened to have a sister married to Ken Blanchard! 

Nancy and I also put together a race car event for conference attendees, as we wanted to highlight the upcoming Indianapolis 500 race. Attendees would bring a small race car and register it for “race day” at the convention. Since we both had sons who had many small cars, Nancy and I registered first. The race day event of small cars traveling around a gravity-powered track was great fun, even though our sons’ cars didn’t win. We also held a dance event at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, close to the Convention Center. Similar to “Dancing with the Stars,” winners would receive awards. Nancy was constantly on the lookout for donations. 

The week of the conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center finally came about. Approximately 2,500 people attended the opening ceremony and keynote address. Accompanied by their parents at the conference, children from three AYS programs were chosen to sing as a chorus before the keynote presentation. The children performed beautifully and received a standing ovation. Ken Blanchard’s presentation was engaging and inspiring, urging the development of and outlining the path toward leadership in the growing numbers of afterschool programs in the country. What a marvelous speaker to reach out to so many youth workers from all over the country! 

Finally, Nancy served on the AYS Board of Directors for many years after retiring from her staff position. As a board member, she served on board committees and eventually served as president. She attended fundraising events, particularly those in which AYS kids were involved. Nancy would buy a table for the luncheon and then invite friends or staff members to join her. 

I and many others remember and cherish the life of Nancy Mallon, her love of family, her writing the history of Crooked Creek Elementary, and her many contributions to AYS, Inc. 

Please note the following staff members who responded with similar memories of their time working with Nancy: Lynda Blackwelder, Mary Lou Hadley, Roger Bower, Maureen Grey, and Betty Tuller. I lament that I was unable to speak to all who knew and worked with her.

Ellen Clippinger 
Founder of AYS, Inc. 

The new school year is just around the corner! As kids exchange their sunglasses and sunscreen for backpacks and books, we reflect on this past year’s successes and focus on opportunities for future growth. 

Our team is particularly proud of our organization’s adaptability and commitment to our mission of supporting the children and families of our community. While providing this essential care this summer, students were also able to start regaining a sense of normalcy, togetherness, and excitement. Our Summer Enrichment program themes challenged students to take on the part of world travelers, Olympic athletes, mad scientists, innovative artists, and more en route to grade level academic proficiency! 

This past year, we also took time to connect with our families and gain greater understanding of our impact. Our surveys yielded many encouraging and uplifting comments from our parents, which reminded us of why we do what we do. One parent wrote “AYS has been a lifesaver for my family…they are like my kids’ second family.” It’s comments like these that remind us of our purpose and drive our passion for helping families in any way we can. During the next school year, we will have the opportunity to support even more families. We are excited to announce that we will be adding four new schools for the 2021-2022 school year – Christel House Academy South and West, Emma Donnan Elementary & Middle School, and The PATH School. Adding these sites will promote the continued growth of AYS and will allow us to support more families in need of high-quality youth development programs for their kids.

As AYS looks toward the future, we know that remembering where we’ve been (and the heroes who made it all possible) ensures we never lose our way. We are honored to share a tribute to Nancy Mallon, whose spirit and leadership was vital in creating the foundation of AYS. Please take some time to read about Nancy’s legacy as remembered by our founder, Ellen Clippinger. 

AYS’ role is as significant as ever this school year with parents adjusting to new work environments and everyone attempting to transition out of the pandemic. To help make AYS accessible to more families, please donate to our Ellen Clippinger Fund by clicking the button below. These donations directly impact student attendance and offer stability for local families.

As always, we appreciate you and are happy to have you in our family!

We’re almost to the light at the end of the tunnel. Summer is finally on the horizon. Kids are itching to get a break from school, parents are itching to get a break from their kids, and we are itching to give kids the fun and engaging break they need while allowing parents to enter the “chill zone” (in case you’ve been keeping up with our Summer Enrichment campaign).

Although things are somewhat getting back to normal, AYS is still adapting its operations to best meet the needs of families when curveballs get thrown our way. Most recently, MSD of Decatur Township announced that the district will be offering a free 5-week summer school program during the second part of summer, which will be focused on offsetting students’ learning loss during the pandemic. Upon hearing this news, rather than discontinuing our Summer Enrichment program in Decatur after the first three weeks, we met with Decatur administrators to determine how AYS could continue supporting its families during summer school. Decatur was gracious enough to allow AYS to offer before- and after-care programs surrounding their summer school, for families who need it. Beyond that gesture, Decatur also agreed to write AYS into their summer grant, allowing AYS to offer free before- and after-care for these families.

How many organizations can do that? How many organizations can truly change directions on a dime to meet the needs of its customers? We don’t make these adjustments to retain revenue streams. We make these adjustments for parents who need a safe and trusted place for their kids to be while they’re at work, for kids who need to catch up on their learning, build their social-emotional skills, and just be kids, for our staff members in the field who are counting on steady income so they can provide for their families, and for the well-being and growth of the community as a whole. None of this is possible without the incredible and passionate team we have, and supporters like you. If you’d like to help us continue supporting the community when it needs us the most, click here to donate.

As we continue marching on into the summer, we have one goal in mind – to help kids close achievement gaps created by pandemic-related learning loss while providing parents with the financial support they need to cover the cost of Summer Enrichment. Over the summer, we plan to implement a project-based learning approach that will allow kids to strengthen their academics and stay on track to return to in-person learning in the fall, all while having fun. In order for kids to have this opportunity, we must continue working to find ways to financially support parents, whether that be through our Ellen Clippinger Fund or summer program grants. With your help, we can achieve these goals. We appreciate your support more than you know.

One year. It’s been one year since schools shut down. One year of quarantine. One year of face masks. One year of uncertainty.

Luckily, we can be certain of one thing: your support. Both our individual donors and community organizations came through for us over the past year, allowing us to maintain our mission by providing all-day e-learning support even when schools had to close their doors, and keeping our programs open when schools returned to session even though enrollment dropped. Not every out-of-school-time provider can say the same.

With the sunshine, warmer temperatures, and increased availability of vaccines for Indiana residents, it feels like our community is about to come back to life. While we’re still proceeding with caution and maintaining all the safety measures we’ve kept in place over the past twelve months, AYS is moving forward. Throughout this whole year, we’re proud to say we’ve always kept moving forward.

We’re currently in the middle of exciting new Spring Break programming, and we’re getting ready for some innovative initiatives later this year. Our summer programs are all about project-based learning, which will help kids get back on track academically after a very challenging year while still having a blast and creating projects they can share with their community.

We’re always looking for ways to make our summer programming more accessible to all parents, because as any parent knows, you don’t get summers off from being a mom or dad! Click here to donate to our 40th Anniversary campaign, which will go directly to our Ellen Clippinger Fund and support student attendance across all our programs. While the pandemic may be nearing the end, families are still feeling its impact and will be for years. Over this summer and the coming school year, the need for financial assistance is going to grow.

As spring rolls into summer, infection rates continue to fall, and we keep offering high-impact programming that minimizes learning loss, we can’t wait to see what the next twelve months will bring. All we know is we’ll keep moving forward together. We appreciate you.

Featured Donor: Corteva Agriscience

Thanks to a generous gift from Corteva Agriscience, a major American agricultural chemical and seed company, AYS is reinventing their program at ACE Preparatory Academy. ACE is a K-5 charter school that starts preparing students for college in kindergarten. “STEM Strong at AYS” will provide six weeks of engaging sustainability-focused STEM projects for students in AYS’ out-of-school-time program at ACE. Whether they’re learning about sustainability using Starburst candy or peer-learning through group sharing, these kids will boost their understanding of how sustainability and STEM go hand in hand. AYS is excited to provide programming that can narrow equity and achievement gaps and break down barriers to educational success in an area as crucial as STEM.