Boys and Girls Club facing funding cuts amid pandemic


During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour has been a resource for local families.

The club has provided much needed child care for working parents, giving youth a safe and fun place to go with structured and supervised programming and activities.

Staff members have implemented safety measures including wearing masks, disinfecting surfaces throughout the day, requiring children wash or sanitize their hands regularly and minimizing large groups by separating activities into pods. 

Through community partnerships and support, the club also has provided food for families struggling financially due to layoffs or reduced work hours.

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But even as demand for their services has increased, the club is facing a major cut in state funding and is reaching out to the community to take action.

Ryon Wheeler, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, said all clubs in Indiana are facing lost revenue and financial instability after the state recently announced it was cutting $2.2 million from its budget used to fund the Indiana Kids program.

For Seymour’s club, that means a loss of up to $60,000 this year.

"We have been notified that the Indiana Kids funding will be terminated at the end of September," Wheeler said. "I urge every member of our community to reach out to their state legislators and Governor to provide relief for charities and funding for critical programs like Indiana Kids," he said.

The club also is facing the loss of more than $50,000 from the cancellation of the Dancing with the Seymour Stars fundraiser due to the pandemic. 

Started during former Governor Mitch Daniels’ administration, Indiana Kids is a statewide after-school tutoring program aimed at helping children increase the quality and quantity of homework they complete and help improve student behavior and attitudes about school and learning.

Locally, the Indiana Kids program served 241 Seymour youth in 2019.

Wheeler said the program has made a difference in club members’ academic performance increasing reading fluency scores by 56% and math competency scores by 60%.

But Indiana Kids is more than just test scores.

In addition to reading and math instruction, children also are learning about college, career and job readiness, workforce skills development, leadership development and volunteerism.

"This program allows kids who struggle with reading to spend time reading to the club’s therapy dog in a safe environment and at their own pace," Wheeler said. "It has allowed kids who have never thought about their future career to explore different career opportunities."

Simply put, Indiana Kids has provided youth the opportunity to learn at their own pace and explore ideas that interest them.

"That freedom, paired with a caring adult, has allowed children to flourish academically," Wheeler said.

In past years, the club has received around $20,000 in state funding for the program, but the amount is dependent on performance, Wheeler said. 

The club planned to focus on increasing its Indiana Kids funding this year to offset losses from other funders.

"Due to our upward trajectory in participation and performance it provided us more opportunity," he said of the funding. "Last year, (the state) provided an additional $5,000 to go on educational field trips."

He believes the cut in funding was more of an oversight and unintended consequence of the pandemic.

"We are having a heck of a time getting it reinstated," he said. "This program has been going on through three administrations now, so it’s kind of mind boggling that it’s being cut."

But even without the state funding, Wheeler said the club will not cut its services and already is looking for other funding options, working closely with entities including Jackson County United Way and Seymour Community School Corp.

"Same as with COVID-19, we won’t let outside forces negatively impact our kids and programs," Wheeler said. "What we do right now is just too important not to close the gap for kids."

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Help support the Boys and Girls Club of Seymour by taking action:

Or make a financial donation: and click on "Ways to Give."

Checks can be mailed to: Boys and Girls Club of Seymour, 950 N. O’Brien St., Seymour, IN 47274.


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