“Obstacles to breaking the cycle of poverty need to be removed.”
– Community Conversation Member

Poverty consistently correlates with a lack of education and can be a strong barrier to academic achievement.  With 1 in 5 children in the Wabash Valley living in poverty, we want to help close the achievement gap to assist more children and families to succeed in school.  We believe that by supporting the entire continuum of education including youth educational success and post-secondary planning and preparation, we can help break the cycle of poverty.

What we do

Our Youth Success Impact Council empowers youth to be responsible, reliable, and respectful individuals by supporting resources, programs, and initiatives.

View our strategy guide for more detailed information about our beliefs and goals.  VIEW GUIDE

Impact Council:

Our Youth Success Impact Council, a multi-sector volunteer committee of nonprofit, government, education, and business leaders are experts in and/or are passionate about supporting students in our community.  They believe that all Wabash Valley youth should gain the knowledge, skills, and character development to succeed in kindergarten through high school and are prepared for the next step in their journey.

The impact council is creating initiatives and investing in our community to bring successful results to their agreed-upon specific outcome targets in support of the overall United Way community goal.

Objective: Increase youth success with strong school partnerships, assisting schools to reduce chronic absenteeism and strengthen key supports for student success.


Focus on attendance rates:  Every Child, Every Day, On-Time

Strengthen student support through parents, tutors, and/or mentors

Expand literacy supports in K-12

Expand counseling services available to youth including social and career counseling

Promote the development of life skills


Chronic Absenteeism Rates

Number of Students/Families Receiving Mentorship

Third Grade Reading Level Rate

Students in Credit Deficit

Youth Success Impact Council Solutions

Reading Neighbors

A joint program with the Vigo County School Corporation that invites community members to read aloud to first and second-grade students to improve emerging reading skills, using a special selection of books that also help children strengthen self-awareness, decision-making, and interpersonal skills vital for success in school, work, and life.

Successful Student Transitions Initiative

The Impact Council has invested $271,000 over three years in programs that directly support students while they move through a key educational transition. The challenges these proposals focus on can relate to learning loss, mental health, social/emotional issues, and preparation for post-secondary life. Grant awards included:

Terre Haute Children’s Museum – Terre Haute Children’s Museum in partnership with Sarah Scott Middle School will facilitate the transition from fifth to sixth grade by adding a new one-week summer STEM Camp to the school’s well-established WEB (Where Everyone Belongs) mentoring program. In addition to engaging incoming sixth graders in fun STEM activities at the museum and on ISU’s campus, the camp provides an opportunity for more meaningful contact between the new students and their eighth-grade WEB mentors.

Mental Health America – Mental Health America West Central Indiana Inc. will bring the Too Good For Violence curriculum to students who are transitioning from elementary school to middle school in the Parke, Sullivan, and Vermillion County school districts. The Too Good For Violence Program is a multifaceted prevention program focused on promoting important skills such as respect for self and others while developing effective communication skills, social and conflict resolution skills, emotional competency skills and anger management strategies that can help facilitate the major life change to middle school.

Clara Fairbanks Foundation – The Clara Fairbanks Foundation will bring indoor rowing machines (called ergs) curriculum, and training to the Sarah Scott Middle School physical education program so that teachers and students can access rowing without ever leaving the classroom. The “Erg Ed Program” will support kids by introducing them to a sport that promotes goal-setting, equality, working together, and finding a voice as a team.

Youth Success Student Engagement Mini-Grant

The Impact Council has invested $60,000 in mini-grants that focused on proposals put forth by community organizations or schools that will enhance student engagement in their current education forum (real, virtual, or in-home) and work to improve long-term student attendance rates. Project proposals focused around bettering student engagement, interest, and enthusiasm in their studies, as well as improved attendance, all of these outcomes contributing to better overall educational experience and readiness for our youth.

Grants Awarded:

Round 1

Ben Franklin Elementary School – Tokens for Books – Provides reward tokens for students based on attendance to be traded in for books.

Hamilton Center – Youth Mentoring – Provides a relationship with a caring adult who works with youth to achieve their potential.

Merom Methodist Church – The Way Forward – Provides local students with an environment conductive to learning with tutors, internet access, and healthy snacks.

Northeast East Elementary School – Significant Relationships – Develops relationships with mentors to assess and keep students on track academically.

Sarah Scott Middle School – Success for Sarah Scott Scotties – Encourages student attendance and engagement by incentivizing with rewards to the school store for purchase.

Southwest School Corporation – Carlisle Middle School – Hosts virtual activities to get students, parent and faculty all involved and engaged in learning activities together.

Vigo Virtual Success Academy – Student Success Kits – Provides STEM-related kits and books to encourage family engagement

Round 2

Chances and Services for Youth – CAMP Rave – A summer camp that provides K-5 students with multiple activities, utilizing various local partnerships to educate children on the environment, arts, literacy, STEM, and wellness.

Davis Park Elementary School – Therapy Dog Program – Expands their therapy dog program to enhance the reading skills of K-5 students.

Farrington Grove Elementary School – IXL Digital Engagement – Assesses student needs and allows teachers to provide whole-class instruction to intervene in trouble spots before they become misconceptions.

Otter Creek Middle School – SPED Community Based Instruction – Program that provides students the opportunity to build skills in a community setting that will help them transition to fulfilling independent adult lives.

South Vermillion Community Schools – Summer Reading/STEM Tutoring Program – Summer STEM and reading program for students flagged as needing further intervention.

Southwest Parke Schools/Rosedale Elementary – Bridging the Gap – After-school program focused on providing students with an environment to allow students to learn STEM and reading courses.

Southwest School Corporation – Sullivan Middle School Leadership Class – Leadership class taught by a licensed school counselor to boost students’ social-emotional skills and personal development.

Sullivan Elementary – Positive Behavior Picks – Program that creates an “economy” for students to promote positive student behavior. Staff provides currency based on merit, which students can spend on goodies.

Terre Town Elementary – Tiger Cub Camp – Bi-weekly program where students come to school in the evening and participate in a themed activity incorporating local businesses.

Youth Success Impact Council Members - Development Team

Composed of volunteers who are passionate and/or experts in the field of student success.  They are responsible for developing ideas to make progress towards their agreed upon measurements.

Karen Harding – Co-Chair
Chances and Services for Youth

Liz Metzger – Co-Chair
Indiana State University

Robin Burke
Ivy Tech Community College

Jim Exline
Wabash Capital

Christi Fenton
Retired – Vigo County School Corporation

Susan Guinnip
Retired – University of IL Extension

Sara Haag
Purdue Extension Vigo County

Sarah Hannon
NE Elementary School

Ryan Jenkins
Central Elementary School

Don Richards
Retired – Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Casey Strawser
Lugar Center for Rural Health

Janet Strole
Vigo County School Corp.

Krista Wells
Southwest School Corp.

Lindsay Wilhoyte
Vigo County School Corporation

Youth Success Impact Council Members - Resource Team

Composed of volunteers who provide financial oversight for the resources entrusted to the impact council.

Noah Gambill – Chair
Dept. of Child Services

Marlene Burns
Indiana State University

Cheryl Casselman
Purdue Extension Sullivan Co.

Katherine Hammett
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Rene Hankins
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Ryan Penrod
YMCAs of the Wabash Valley

Invest in Youth Success

Invest in the youth in our community by donating to the United Way. Your donation will allow this council to invest in the best programs and initiatives that promote student success throughout their academic career.

Invest in the Youth Success Council