General News

ProAct Indy Designated as Lead Agency to Engage Youth on National Days of Service in Indianapolis

Monday, July 29, 2019

ProAct Indy will serve as a Youth Service America Lead Agency, mobilizing Indianapolis’s young people to lead volunteer service projects that help meet community needs on 9/11 Day of Service & Remembrance (September 11, 2019), MLK Day of Service (January 20, 2020), and Global Youth Service Day (April 17-19, 2020). These three days are officially designated as National Days of Service by the 2009 Serve America Act.

With grant funding from The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community Service along with training and support from YSA (Youth Service America), ProAct Indy will build a culture in which all young people in Indianapolis, IN have the opportunity and support to find their voice, take action, and make an impact in their communities. As the official local organizers for these national days of service, Lead Agencies are a vital part of YSA’s work to activate all youth, ages 5-25 – especially those in under-served communities who aren’t usually asked to participate.

Driven by the desire to change how youth and communities experienced one another, Derrin Slack, founder and Chief Program Officer, established ProAct in 2010. “Our mission is to engage youth in public service that educates, delights, and inspires youth and those they serve. Rather than engaging the typical youth in the typical way, ProAct takes traditional service-learning models and turns them upside down,” Slack said.

Slack further explained that “A key tenet to ProAct’s mission is that while we do ‘serve’ at-risk youth, our youth are not the beneficiaries of our service. Rather, our youth become the givers and creators of service in their schools and neighborhoods and seek to serve with their community rather than to or for their community by focusing on relationships.”

ProAct Indy will engage at least 4,500 youth volunteers, and partner with at least ten (10) other community-based organizations and schools, including the MSD Washington Township and Shepherd Community Center. Guided by their young people, ProAct Indy and its coalition partners will organize large-scale community events, celebrations and community service projects on each Global Youth Service Day during the months of September through May.

“We are thrilled to partner with ProAct Indy and the thousands of young people in Indianapolis, IN who will serve and celebrate on these days of service,” said Steven A. Culbertson, President and CEO of YSA. “We’re currently leaving two-thirds of our young citizens out of actively participating in our democracy.  Volunteering is a gateway to a lifetime of civic participation and days of service are on-ramps to volunteering, especially for first-time volunteers.”


“As a proud member of the ProAct leadership team, and on behalf of its Board of Directors,” said Pitt Thompson, CEO of ProAct Indy, “we extend our sincere thanks to the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and the Corporation for National and Community service for the honor to collaborate with YSA in engaging our community on these 3 important national days of service. It is because of individuals and agencies like these that we are able to improve the many lives we will touch in 2019 and into 2020.”


ProAct Indy uses an evidence-based and asset-based community development approach to leverage the social capital of the community to address poverty in Indianapolis by providing service learning opportunities to marginalized and impoverished youth working hand in hand with schools, community and faith-based organizations, corporate partners, and community members to inspire action, innovation, compassion, and enduring commitment.

Driven by a mission to engage youth in public service that educates, delights, and inspires the youth and those they serve, ProAct is not only unique because of the youth engaged in service, but also in the way the organization engages them. Rather than following traditional models of service learning, ProAct takes a Critical Service-Learning approach. The concept of Critical Service Learning (CSL) first appeared in 1997 and is a relatively new strategy within the nonprofit sector. As CSL is currently in its introductory phase, CSL-focused organizations targeting both social justice issues and service-learning have yet to emerge. That is, until now. Through Critical Service-Learning, ProAct deliberately utilizes social justice platforms as the driving force to help marginalized urban youth experience a social change orientation, work to redistribute power, and build authentic relationships with their community. With the Critical Service Learning model, ProAct’s youth develop 21st century skills such as collaboration, empathy and understanding, self-efficacy, critical thinking, understanding bias and stereotype, public speaking, communication and marketing, project management, and financial literacy. To learn more, visit

To register yourself, organization, company, small group, family, or school to volunteer, visit ProAct’s CommunityConnect Volunteer Hub.

YSA (Youth Service America) believes that youth, communities, and democracy thrive when we all work together for the common good. YSA is a leading global nonprofit that activates young people, ages 5-25, to find their voice, take action, and acquire powerful civic and 21st Century skills as they solve problems facing their communities. YSA supports its activation campaigns – including 9/11 Day of Service, MLK Day of Service, and Global Youth Service Day – with grants, training & resources, and recognition programs for young people and their adult champions. Youth-led projects use Awareness, Service, Advocacy, and Philanthropy (ASAP) strategies to create social and environment change. For more information, visit

Honoring the history of September 11th by serving in your community helps transform 9/11 into a day of unity, empathy, and service as an enduring and positive tribute to those lost and injured on 9/11/01, and the many who rose in service in response to the attacks, including first responders, recovery workers, volunteers and members of our military.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service is Monday, January 21, 2019. It is the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – a “day on, not a day off” – and is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to work together to help solve our most pressing problems. The MLK Day of Service empowers individuals, bridges barriers, and moves us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

Celebrating 32 years of youth changing the world, Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is the largest youth service and civic action event in the world and the only one that celebrates and creates opportunities for all youth ages 5-25, their communities, and our democracy to thrive by working together for the common good.

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