Inner-City Achievement: Utilizing After-School Programs

 Written by: Sara Smith (Americorps VISTA)

Children spend most of their time during the weekday at school but what is there to do outside of school? Many youth go home after-school with nothing to do and potentially find unproductive ways to fill their time. The youth may not know what their options are, and on the other hand, parents and teachers at times struggle to get their children or students involved in extracurricular activities because of lack of information or availability of resources.
As stated in my past blog “They [after-school programs] are a valuable part of giving the children an option to be more than their situation, to excel, to become someone.” People of all kinds, learn, discover, and grow through life’s experiences; after school programs are away to ensure a safe, friendly environment for our youth while doing so. Youth can discover their strengths and weaknesses through the various active engagement and social activities the extra-curricular programs can offer.
Although, we may not know where every single opportunity is, there are always options of getting your youth involved in the areas in which they live in!
I would like to point out two important tools that can be utilized to find affordable, fun, and quality programs or activities for youth during the school year and the summer months; the MCCOY 2013 Youth Activity Directory (YAD) and the 2013 Indy Park’s Fall Fun Guide!
The two resources of information for youth activities include, but are not limited to, the following kinds of programs:
Performing Arts
College Prep
Social Activities
Homework & Tutoring
Arts & Crafts
Health & Fitness
Seasonal Activities
…and much, MUCH, more!
For more information on the MCCOY Youth Activity Directory please click here.
If you are a part of a youth serving organization and would like to include your activities for youth in future YAD’s please contact MCCOY at [email protected]
To view Indy Park’s Fall Fun Guide please click here.

Called to Act!

     There are so many awesome organizations within Marion County. Often times organizations work separately (or in silos) to achieve communal goals, however, as the old proverb says “it takes a village to raise a child”. This analogy holds true to youth serving organizations as well. In only my second month as a VISTA I have seen and experienced so much that speaks directly to this topic. I have had the pleasure of learning about and working with a wide variety of organizations throughout Indianapolis.
Last week I attended a “Call to Action” meeting held by Regina Marsh of Forest Manor. The purpose of this meeting was to address the escalating violence within the communities of Marion County. Not only was the intention to address the issue in and of itself but to draft feasible solutions to the outbreak of violence Marion County is currently experiencing. The ultimate goal of the call to action committee is to become proactive in these matters as opposed to reactive once they have already happened.  Ms. Marsh reached out to a variety of individuals and organizations alike that serve youth to some capacity. There were representatives from the Chief of Police to clergymen, and everyone in-between dispersed throughout the space of this meeting. Although we were broken up into groups based on what our organization could best contribute to the call to action plan, an overarching concern every group brought to the table was a lack of unison among youth serving individuals and organizations.
For me this raised many questions as to how effective organizations could be in conjunction with other organizations as partners. Granted, this not a new idea. Nor is it something every organization has not discussed at some point or another is a staff meeting, with a co worker or even in their personal time. Organizations working together must to go beyond the helm of co-sponsoring events and tapping into one another for resources. In order for any substantial change to occur there has to be a collective sense of community among organizations.
                In my opinion call to action was one step in a good direction. No, one meeting will not change the climate between organizations nor will it fix the issues youth are facing regarding violence. However, it does create an open table atmosphere for community leaders of varying capacity to come together and discuss who’s doing what, who needs what and who has what. Building more effective relationships among organizations and the constituents of those organizations begins with solid communication. MCCOY publishes a Youth Activity Directoryevery year where the majority of youth serving organizations are listed to some capacity. I urge organizations to utilize the Youth Activity Directory, and direct youth where they can get either the help they need or opportunity they are looking.    
“Never confuse movement with action”- Ernest Hemingway

Creating a Path to Quality for Children

Written by: Stephanie Freeman, MCCOY Communications Director
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” ~Stacia Tauscher

As a mother with a young son, I can identify with the above quote.  I am constantly thinking about the future. What will he want to be when he grows up, how much will I need to save up for a car, college, weddings, will I have grandkids? However, it’s just as important to focus on the here and now, than to plan for the future. Having a strong foundation now, will lead to success down the road. A strong foundation for most children these days is child care.

Children should have access to safe, nurturing child care with opportunities for learning. Parents want their children to feel loved and welcomed from their care providers and grow, learn and become better because of their providers. Let’s face it; most children spend more time at child care than with their parents.

Finding quality and affordable child care is very difficult. It’s full of decisions, wait lists, budgeting, and lots and lots of worrying. Similar too many important investments in your life, having a recommendation from a trusted advisor help make the decision a lot easier. For parents, I recommend utilizing the website: This website has an easy search tool for parents to use to search by location of providers that have been awarded the “Paths to Quality” certification. According the website, “Paths to Quality” is Indiana’s voluntary quality rating and improvement system that include licensed child care centers, licensed family child care homes, and unlicensed registered ministries who have met voluntary standards.

Be informed, research and do your homework to ensure your child is in a healthy, safe and positive environment.