::Heart of IM – Non-Profit Spotlight:: Carmel Youth Assistance Program


World Teen Mental Wellness Day, observed March 2 each year,  serves as a timely reminder of the ongoing struggle many young people face. According to a 2023 trends report from the American Psychological Association (APA), teen mental health is in crisis. The surgeon general went as far as to declare a mental health crisis for teens in the aftermath of the pandemic and the new stressors and challenges associated with it. However, the APA reports that U.S. children and teens have been suffering since well before COVID-19 arrived. Many things can affect the mental well-being of youth, including stigma, bullying, food insecurity, violence, and puberty.

For teenagers, who are particularly vulnerable, it’s a day meant to spotlight the resources available to help manage and overcome stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Among those resources is the Carmel Youth Assistance Program (CYAP), an organization committed to offering transformative support to families and youth facing challenging life circumstances.

Join us this week to help make a positive impact with the Heart of Indianapolis Moms and CYAP.

Who CYAP Serves

CYAP serves as an early intervention advocate. They collaborate closely with schools, law enforcement, and the judicial system to craft comprehensive intervention strategies. They coordinate the community’s vast array of talents, services, and resources to help youth and empower parents and caregivers. 

What CYAP Offers

CYAP’s wide-ranging support services are not a one-size-fits-all solution but are tailor-made to meet the unique needs of the families they assist. Major programs include comprehensive case management, tutoring, mentoring, and so much more. Essentially, all things that support the social and emotional health of the community. 

Through their mentoring programs, vital connections are established, pairing young people with a consistently positive and supportive adult presence. Jordan*, a local teenager, was able to find direction amidst family and personal difficulties through CYAP’s dedicated Early Intervention Advocate.

Beyond mentoring, CYAP extends targeted support, addressing tangible needs that may otherwise hinder a child’s progress. In Jordan’s case, after recognizing his lack of a necessary school laptop, CYAP worked with the school to get one, arranged for his commute to the study group by covering transportation expenses and facilitated the donation of a car when he earned his driver’s license. They also navigated financial support for his family, such as meals, rent, and utility aid.

“Through the Carmel Youth Assistance Program, my children have had the privilege of attending sleepover camps, where they enjoyed memorable experiences and learned life skills. Not only does this program provide tangible assistance, but it is also led by compassionate individuals. The staff and volunteers have been instrumental in improving our lives. They are not only easy to talk to, but they also demonstrate empathy and respect. Their unwavering efforts to investigate all options and fulfill our requests show their dedication to easing our burdens. We are deeply grateful to the Carmel Youth Assistance Program and the incredible people who make it a source of blessing and support for families like ours.” *Betty, Carmel Youth Assistance Program Parent 

CYAP’s steadfast commitment to providing ongoing support proves irreplaceable in all aspects of the families and children they serve. The program’s enduring relationships and sustained emotional assistance, as seen in the case of Jordan, can help forge a more positive life trajectory for youth facing adversity.

How You Can Make A Difference

Join our mission to redefine the mental health narrative for our community’s youth. Your involvement can lead to more hopeful paths for our kids, as was the generous example set by Jordan’s Advocate – an unfaltering pillar of support at each turn. With your assistance, we will continue to encourage the pursuit of academic, athletic, and personal excellence and help usher in a brighter future for the young individuals we serve

Attend an Event

Tickets are on sale now for our April 27th Gala! Bring a date or get a group of friends together and purchase a table. The gala offers a gourmet dinner, open bar, silent auction, music and dancing with The Bishops, and so much more!


Volunteer opportunities include partnering one-on-one with a child in a tutoring or mentoring relationship or volunteering for special events on an as-needed basis. Board and Committee roles are also available. 


All gifts are tax deductible and help the agency provide things from basic needs, such as food and clothing assistance, to mental health support, enrichment experiences, supplies, and beyond. 

*Names in Jordan’s and Betty’s stories have been altered to protect the privacy of the individuals involved.

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Kristi Howard-Shultz
Kristi grew up in Danville, Indiana where she met her childhood sweetheart and now husband Elliott. After years of living apart including graduate school in New York City and military tours abroad, they resettled and started a family in Indianapolis. Together, they are raising two bright and busy boys—Henry and George. She has a Master's Degree in Social work from New York University and is a RYT 200 Yoga Teacher. In her “spare” time, she enjoys reading memoirs, chasing her boys, and listening to her husband, the funniest person she knows.


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