BLOOMINGTON – In April, seventh and eighth graders in the Judy O’Bannon Youth Leadership Academy (YLA) concluded community service projects that addressed issues faced by local youth. The youth leaders raised a total of $3,001 to benefit local youth served by local non-profit agencies. On Thursday, April 26, Academy participants presented their service project results to a crowd of more than 300 at Ivy Tech Bloomington’s O’Bannon Institute for Community Service fundraising dinner with Michael Smerconish.

YLA participants from Bachelor Middle School, Jackson Creek Middle School, and the Project School worked in teams to develop their project ideas. The Jackson Creek team organized a pancake breakfast held at Applebee’s and raised $1,273 to purchase backpacks for children in the foster system at The Villages agency. Bachelor Middle School youth leaders organized the “Bachelor’s Got Talent” show and raised $1,227 for Susie’s Place child advocacy center. The Project School team organized a book swap held at Ivy Tech Community College and raised $501 for the Community Kitchen Backpack Buddies program.

Dr. Samantha Levy-Arnold, Ivy Tech associate professor of English, who served as co-organizer of the Youth Leadership Academy, also mentored youth leaders at Bachelor Middle School as they developed their service project.

“The talent show youth leaders relied on resources to help them, but they ultimately brought to fruition this extraordinary project for a great organization,” said Dr. Levy-Arnold. “The night of the event was such a rewarding experience for all of us, and I am quite sure these two are only beginning their foray into civic engagement.”

Ivy Tech Community College’s Bloomington campus initiated the YLA program in 2014 to foster civic engagement among youth. Each year, participants develop leadership skills, meet with community leaders, and develop service projects that meet the needs of youth or solve a problem faced by youth in their community or school. In the fall, participants meet on select Saturdays to engage in leadership development activities. In the spring, they meet twice a month with Ivy Tech mentors to develop their service projects, culminating in a presentation to the community at a public event.

The Judy O’Bannon Youth Leadership Academy is open to seventh and eighth graders in Ivy Tech Bloomington’s service area. There is no cost to participate. Applications become available in fall, and will be posted online at For more information, contact Jennifer Daily-Mantha at or 812-330-6006.


About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.