Our kids need a strong network of caring adults to serve as guides, coaches, caretakers, advisors and mentors. These adults offer positive and productive guidance, often through after school programs and activities.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has negatively impacted many of the programs aimed at helping our children and youth.

But a new statewide initiative will be able to offer support to many of these struggling organizations, helping them continue to serve their community’s children.

Young people that are supported by caring adults are more likely to be involved in school and report increased motivation to succeed academically. These students become leaders, stay in school, and enroll in college at higher rates than students without an adult support network. And depending on the study, 40-50% of students indicate they would like more adults in their lives to help them address issues with school, peers, decision-making, and future planning.

A child builds his or her network of caring adults through connections with a range of youth-serving organizations, including after school programs, faith-based programs, sports, performing arts groups and youth-focused activities that are part of larger social service agencies. Many of these organizations were already operating with limited resources, and the COVID-19 pandemic has hit them and other nonprofits particularly hard.

A new report, Indiana Nonprofits and COVID-19: Impact on Services, Finances and Staffing, surveyed over 500 nonprofits from around the state as part of a joint effort of Indiana United Ways and the Indiana Nonprofit Sector Project. Some of the key findings of the report include:

• Most Indiana nonprofits, 71 percent, reported lost revenues since March 1 due to the crisis.

• Sixty percent of nonprofits have curtailed or suspended programs; 70 percent of organizations have been forced to operate other ongoing programs with limited or reduced capacity.

• Almost as many programs (69 percent) shifted programs to online or phone platforms, and

• Losses in donations, special events income, and fee-for-service revenues were reported as the most common and pervasive funding issues.

The report also found that many Indiana nonprofits have adapted and changed their programs and spaces in order to adjust to new safety standards. While the report classifies reported job losses as “modest,” concerns remain about possible future staff and volunteer losses. At the same time nonprofits are managing these issues, many are also reporting an increasing demand for their services.

This month, Lilly Endowment launched a new $20 million to help youth serving organizations in Indiana address some of the challenges they face because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Youth Program Resilience Fund is designed to offer support to a variety of organizations so they can better serve the needs of school-age children and youth (ages 5-18).

Indiana Youth Institute is providing a series of educational discussions aimed at helping youth-serving organizations apply. The workshops, which will draw upon experts from around the state, will help these youth-serving organizations tell their unique story of how COVID-19 has impacted their work, a crucial part of this Request for Information. To sign up for one, or all, of the workshops go to iyi.org/events.

Our kids need caring adults, in addition to parents, caregivers, and family, in all aspects of their lives. The network of caring relies on a web of youth-serving organizations, which have been working tirelessly to continue to carry out their missions over these last trying months. While the pandemic has put tremendous strain on these organizations and connections, the new fund is one way we can help their efforts. Please help promote the fund, and the free support workshops, throughout your community.

Tami Silverman is the president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute. She may be reached at iyi@iyi.org or on Twitter at @Tami_IYI.

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