AYS, Inc. (formerly At-Your-School Child Services, Inc.) began with the vision of three concerned mothers who realized that working parents often could not be with their children during the critical out-of-school hours. A growing number of latchkey kids were going home after school to empty houses until their parents returned from work, hours later. Ellen Clippinger, AYS’ founder, felt these children were at serious risk and began looking for a solution. She soon found the perfect location for after-school care- inside the school buildings. The children were in a familiar place, there was no need for transportation, and the buildings were laid out to best fit the needs of children.
In 1980, AYS was incorporated, gained not-for-profit status, and partnered with IPS School #70 as Indianapolis’ first after-school program within a school building. A start up grant from The Indianapolis Foundation supported the opening of this first program. Shortly after, AYS added a before-school program. New sites were added quickly and AYS currently operates in eleven IPS schools. Over the next years, AYS expanded into Washington Township, Noblesville, North West Hendricks County, Decatur Township, Speedway Schools, Shelby County, and Montgomery County, along with parochial and charter schools.
The first annual Camp AYS summer program was held in 1987. In 1995, AYS opened the Professional Development Center. This provided AYS staff and other youth care specialists the opportunity to attend training and workshops designed for their profession. We opened our first early childhood program, initially as a kindergarten program, in 1999. In 2014, after 34 years at AYS, founder Ellen Clippinger announced her retirement. In the same year, AYS introduced Chrystal Struben as the new President and CEO.
Click below to view AYS’ history by decade!
The year 2020 marked the 40th anniversary of AYS! We have now spent over four decades empowering families and growing as a nonprofit. With 40 years comes many milestones, from our establishment in 1980 to opening our first Liftoff e-learning sites during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our traditional before- and after-school programs have grown immensely over the years, but we’ve also engaged with the community at Mardi Gras Mambo parades, taken kids on numerous fun adventures during summertime at Camp AYS, and celebrated our donors at four Lights On Luncheon fundraisers. And we’re not done just yet.
AYS continues to grow. Our first program started with fewer than ten children. We now serve more than 3,500 students at nearly 40 sites in six school districts during the school year. We strive to deliver high quality programming at low cost to the children and their families. 96% of parents say they are happy or very happy with AYS, and 98% of them believe their children are safe and happy at AYS. To learn more, please view our annual reports.