Main Content

Mt. Vernon after-school program earns Collaborative Point of Light Program Award

November 4, 2020

Thrive, an after-school program in Mt. Vernon, Indiana, received national recognition on October 15th when the commander of

Photo credit: Mrs. Valarie Thompson
Photo shows, left to right: 
Col (Ret) Mark Brugh, P-47 Memorial Chapter Secretary/Tresurer 
CMSgt (Ret) L.D. "Chick" Duncan, P-47 Memorial Chapter President 
C/CMSgt Rylee Schmuck from the RiverCity Cadet Squadron
William Curtis, Mayor of Mt. Vernon
Wendy McNamara, Indiana State Representative
Col Robert Freese, Indiana Wing Commander
Joy Millay, Executive Director of Thrive
Lt Col Brian Schmuck, Indiana Wing Chief of Staff - Missions
James Tomes, Indiana State Senator

Indiana Wing Civil Air Patrol and president of the Air Force Association’s P-47 Memorial Chapter presented them with the 2020 Civil Air Patrol National Aerospace Connections in Education Collaborative Point of Light Program Award. 

Thrive is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enable every youth in the Mt. Vernon community to reach their highest potential and be their truest selves by providing afterschool programming that is holistic in its approach. Thrive serves students in kindergarten through 8th grade from West Elementary and Mt. Vernon Junior High. To ensure that services are available to those who need them, Thrive does not charge any fees to any of the students and families. Thrive therefore relies on the generosity of individuals, businesses, organizations, and foundations to provide these vital services. Joy Millay, Executive Director of Thrive, explains Thrive’s approach as one that “seeks to foster curiosity and discovery in our students, because that is how you create life-long learners.  The ability to create curiosity is what made our partnership with Civil Air Patrol and Air Force Association so incredibly valuable for our students.”

Lt. Col. Brian Schmuck, Civil Air Patrol Indiana Wing Chief of Staff for Missions, launched the ACE program at Thrive for the 2019-2020 school year using a strong collaborative approach that incorporated local area Civil Air Patrol and Air Force Association organizations. “This award is a significant accomplishment and really showcases a community-wide effort in youth STEM education for Mt. Vernon,” Lt Col Schmuck commented, “We want to see school and community groups leveraging partnerships within their community to fully realize the benefits and potential offered in the ACE program.”  Thrive worked closely with Civil Air Patrol’s RiverCity Cadet Squadron and the AFA’s P-47 Memorial Chapter having members of both organizations visit Thrive to teach ACE lessons.  C/CMSgt Rylee Schmuck lead the instruction for many of the 1st grade ACE classes, “Participating in the ACE program as a cadet gave me a lot of good leadership experience.  I think being closer to their age, it made me more approachable and I was a role model they could look up to.  I learned a lot from teaching the aerospace lessons.”

The award was conferred earlier this year but the presentation of the plaque and $250 AFA grant had to be delayed due to the pandemic.  On October 15th, the community rallied around Thrive to show their support.  Indiana State Representative Wendy McNamara, Indiana Senator Jim Tomes and Mayor William Curtis joined other community and business leaders at a ceremony to celebrate.  “Listening to the young students at Thrive describe the CAP ACE program is truly rewarding.  It is a true pleasure to be associated with these programs and the young cadets of the RiverCity Cadet Squadron. It is an opportunity to assist in shaping a young aviator’s mind.  The partnership between the AFA P-47 Memorial Chapter and Civil Air Patrol RiverCity Cadet Squadron continues to grow” noted CMSgt (Ret) L.D. “Chick” Duncan, AFA P-47 Memorial Chapter President. 

“ACE is showing these kids they can accomplish things, that they can enjoy learning, and that they can have pride in who they are. They will take that with them into adulthood and into the future of Mt. Vernon” Eily Schneider, Thrive Teacher and Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Member (AEM).  Jessica Volz, Thrive Teacher and AEM said, “Few moments in life bring teachers more happiness than watching children get excited about science. The ACE program allows me to share my passion for STEM activities with our Thrive kids. Watching their eyes light up when Colonel Schmuck walks through the doors is a real treat. I feel grateful to be a part of something so special.” 

Thrive was selected for this award based on the strong collaboration between themselves, Civil Air Patrol, and the Air Force Association. 

Indiana Wing Commander, Col. Robert W. Freese, commented on the partnership and its foundation with the local CAP unit, "the Thrive program, AFA, and Civil Air Patrol's dedication to service and Aerospace Education has formed a partnership that is very deserving of the recognition Thrive received. The educational opportunity, fun, and energy of the local CAP squadron is exactly what is needed for all to grow into outstanding leaders of the future."

Nationwide, the 2019-2020 school year showcased an all-time high in participation for the ACE program with 517 schools participating.  There were over 76,000 ACE students and nearly 1,300 ACE teachers representing every state and two DoD schools at installations overseas. 

For More Information:

Maj. Bill Vendramin,

« Back

© 2020 Civil Air Patrol. All rights reserved.