The Summer Youth Program Fund (SYPF) is a collaborative effort that supports summer programs serving primarily Marion County (Indianapolis) youth. In 2019, the Endowment joined nine other funders in awarding nearly $3 million in grants to support programs offered by 169 organizations.

SYPF-funded programs focus on providing safe and positive experiences for children, teens and young adults, ages 4 to 24, at little or no cost to families. Grants support overnight programs, day programs, academic and artistic enrichment, and youth employment. Recipients represent organizations ranging from religious congregations and area community centers to theaters and parks that offer sports, overnight camping, arts, community service and tutoring.

During the summer of 2019, the Indianapolis Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, a program funded through SYPF, celebrated its centennial with the theme “Keepin’ it 100.” To commemorate the occasion, program participants voted on their favorite kids book from the last 100 years. Nearly 10,000 votes were cast, with the most going for the internationally-bestselling Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey. This was followed in votes by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Wonder by R.J. Palacio, and We Are in a Book by Mo Willems.

Check out the full list of top 100 books as voted on by children and their families, other library patrons and staff members.

“The summer reading program gives children an opportunity to continue to read for pleasure over the summer. It helps prevent the “summer slide” and helps to entice reluctant readers by providing incentives and rewards for their efforts,” said Sharon Bernhardt, manager of children’s services for the Indianapolis Public Library. “This year on our 100th Anniversary, we are pleased to say that we were able to give away almost 40,000 books as prizes.”

The Indianapolis Public Library strives to reach all students with the free reading program. This year library staff translated promotional materials into eight languages: Spanish, Arabic, French, Burmese, Haka Chin, Karen, Swahili and Yoruba.

During the eight-week Summer Reading Program, preliminary totals show that more than 46-thousand kids read more 860,000 books. IndyPL branches saw notable increases in participation from the previous year, workshops and films for youth and teens attracted more than 20,000 attendees, registered readers were eligible for a drawing to win two college savings accounts and participants from each branch will be chosen to receive tickets to see the Indianapolis Colts.   

More information:

In 2019, the Endowment is supporting 208 program grants totaling $1,894,048. The Endowment’s grants include 41 organizations totaling $800,001 for modest capital improvements. Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana receives $150,000 to provide weekend food for up to 4,000 children who participated in nearly 40 summer programs. The Marion County Commission on Youth receives funding to provide youth and adult staff training, evaluation and end-of-summer educational awards.

In 2018, the program served an estimated 93,000 youth.

2019 funding partners:

Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation Inc.; Christel DeHaan Family Foundation; City of Indianapolis DMD; Indiana University Health; Kroger Central Division; Lilly Endowment Inc.; Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust; The Clowes Fund Inc.; The Indianapolis Foundation; and The Indianapolis Foundation Library Fund.