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2021 Excellence in Summer Service Education Awards Announced

25 young people inducted as 2021 Excellence in Summer Service Education Awardees

INDIANAPOLIS – The Marion County Commission on Youth (MCCOY) has announced the 2021 class of Excellence in Summer Service Education Award on behalf of the Indy Summer Youth Programs funding collaborative. This award is granted to 15 – 22 year-old individuals whose work ethic, teamwork, leadership, and job performance at one of the hundreds of summer youth programs that serve Indianapolis’ kids and youth made them stand out from the rest of their peers across Marion County. This year, 25 young people each received a $1,000 educational stipend for their commitment to serving youth.

“We are excited to honor them and tell their stories,” MCCOY’s President & Executive Director John Brandon stated. “Both to inspire other young people to follow in their footsteps in the future, and to show our community how caring, compassionate, and unselfish this generation of young leaders are.”

An abundance of youth workers and their supervisors throughout Indianapolis sent in applications to be selected as 2021 award recipients. This year’s awardees include six high school students and 18 college students with one full-time employee. Together, they represent 18 summer youth programs in all. “This summer has reminded me that serving youth is serving the leaders of tomorrow,” Counselor at Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, Brianna Hendrix explained. “The students I worked with this past summer will grow up and become contributing members of society. As I serve in the field of youth work, I have recognized and reflected on my responsibility to help students become the best possible versions of themselves.”

Thanks to the dedication and hard work of these high school and college-aged students, over 30,000 kids had opportunities to learn to dance, to read, to create art projects, to experience hands on science, and to learn how to swim. “This program has created a community of students who have gone through the same challenges, reminding each other they are not alone,” Public Relations Intern for the Indiana Writers Center, Carlin James said.   

At the end of each day, every young worker gained an experience they will not soon forget. “Serving in a summer youth program has shown me that I don’t have to change the world to make a difference,” Team Lead for IDEAA, Myranda Thompson shared. “I just have to make a connection with the kids who need it.”

MCCOY’s John Brandon said it best; “Our city is fortunate to have these young people, and thousands of others like them, ready to make our city a better place for all.” With the guidance provided by these outstanding individuals, Indianapolis children learned how to get along better with others, to resolve conflicts, to communicate better, to solve problems, and to work in teams to achieve a goal. And all the time, these tireless young people surrounded our children with respect, caring, positive discipline, enthusiasm, and genuine joy. ““One lesson I learned during my summer service experience was that a smile can go a long way,” Counselor at Agape Therapeutic Riding Resources, Emma Levstek stated. “Encouragement can go a long way. Love can go a long way.  It really is the little things we do and say in life that make everything so special for these groups and individuals.”


2021 Excellence in Summer Service Education Award Recipients:

Truitt Anweiler, Brookside Community Development Corp. (CDC)


John Bravo, Boys & Girls Club


Toney Carter, Westminster Neighborhood Ministries


Jaylend Cowell, Boys & Girls Club


Jillian Curd, Girl Scouts/Camp Dellwood


Nia Dooley, Saint Florian Center


Carlin James, Indiana Writers Center


Elena Flores, Boys & Girls Club


Caitlyn Gallagher, Girl Scouts/Camp Dellwood


Matthew Heilman, East 10th Street United Methodist Church (UMC)


Brianna Hendrix, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center


Olivia Hibbs, Brookside Community Development Corp. (CDC)


Jakeylah Holmes, Boys & Girls Club, Lilly


Hannah Hunt, Purdue Extension 4H Program


Sarah Jones, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center


Emma Levstek, Agape Therapeutic Riding


Jeremy McIntosh, Groundwork Indy


Zaneon Meinhart, Symphonic Youth Orchestra (SYO)


Lily Miller, Butler Community Arts


Kaley Nickels, Hope Academy


Morgan Oconitrillo, National Junior Tennis League of Indianapolis (NJTL)


Kieran Shay, Butler Community Arts

MCCOY (Marion County Commission on Youth) is the youth services intermediary for central Indiana whose mission is to champion the positive development of youth through leadership on key issues and support of youth worker community. MCCOY’s vision is that every young person in central Indiana has opportunities to thrive, learn, engage and contribute.

The Indy Summer Youth Programs fund is a partnership between 11 area grant-making bodies. It funds local nonprofits that provide much-needed safe, engaging, year-long fun to thousands of Marion County youth - like recreation, camping, arts, academics, college and job readiness, and cultural enrichment. For more information, visit:

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