Mentoring the “Makers”
Writer / Janelle Morrison
Many locals have heard him discuss sports strategies over the airwaves, and have seen him on the ball fields assisting the local little league teams, but some may not know that Bill Stanczykiewicz develops programs for Indiana’s youth. Bill, president and CEO for the Indiana Youth Institute, grew up in Chicago in a blue-collar family. He completed his undergraduate degree in journalism at Northwestern and became a producer in a radio station in the Windy City before accepting a job in Anderson, Indiana covering sports in Indianapolis, and high school sports from around Madison County.
He met and married his wife of 22 years, Carmen, through a mutual friend at church. Carmen is currently a Worship Production Minister for Traders Point Christian Church. The two have four children, Will, Gracen, Eléna and Sam.
“After we were married, I took a network job in Washington, DC, in sportscasting,” Bill said. “I got ‘Potomac Fever’ and started working on my master’s in public administration with a concentration on nonprofit management from George Mason University.
Bill eventually ended up at the U.S. Senate and worked for three years for Indiana Senator Dan Coats. He became the chairman for a subcommittee on children and families. “I basically looked at data and research and effective practices related to youth and community development,” he explained, “I went from reporting baseball scores and basketball strategies to looking at data and strategies that benefit children and youth.
Bill and his wife moved back to Indiana and Bill was hired by former Mayor Steve Goldsmith before his path led him to the Indiana Youth Institute, where he has been since November of 1998. Bill and Carmen moved to Zionsville for Lions Park and the school system. “I’ve been a volunteer for the Zionsville Little League, was the board president for three years and a volunteer manager for 11 years,” Bill said. “I served a term on the Community Foundation board and am currently serving on the local school board for Zionsville.”
Professionally, Bill is as dedicated to Indiana youth as he is personally. “What kids need most are caring adults who are passionately committed to their very existence,” he explained. “It starts with the parents. Parents are uniquely influential and uniquely responsible for raising their children. Young people also need caring adults within their community. Whether you’re volunteering for little league, the local Boys and Girls Club or your religious congregation, the most intensive way you can help a child is in a one-on-one mentor relationship.”
Bill and his staff of 35 support 10,000 youth-serving professionals throughout Indiana. “Teachers, school counselors, summer camps, youth ministries—anybody working with children, is our ‘customer,’” he said. “We help them with their individual professional development and strengthen the organizations where they work. To the broader culture, we provide information on parenting and provide information to those who want to be community volunteers and mentors.
Indiana’s fortunate to offer a broad array of options in higher education. There are numerous options and one of the big messages that IYI has is that too many kids think their only option is a four-year school and they’re not always interested in that. They’d rather be doing something else and what we want them to know is that’s awesome, because there’s lots of something elses, and it’s especially found in these two-year schools at Ivy Tech and Vincennes.”
Additionally, there are one-year offerings through credentialing programs they can take advantage of. Recently, Lebanon announced that a Vincennes University advanced manufacturing training facility is coming to their area in 2015. It will be the first training facility in the northern part of Indiana.
“Indiana has a wonderful legacy in two large segments of the economy,” Bill explained. “One is manufacturing. Indiana built America after WWII and we’re proud of that. To this day, Indiana has the highest percentage of its work force in manufacturing—more than any other state—making up 20 percent, though it’s a different manufacturing sector now. Nobody uses a wrench to make anything in Indiana. It’s all computerized and it’s all technology. You need a 2-year degree oftentimes to get that high-paying job.”
He explained that the other strong economic segment is agriculture. “We’re still feeding the world here in Indiana,” Bill stated. “We’re one of the largest agriculture states, in one of the largest agriculture countries in the world, but it’s not your grandfather’s farm anymore. There’s technology on the tractors and you need to be aware of the global economy. You need to keep up with seed developments and using satellites and computers on the tractors to measure which part of the land has the best yield. You don’t have to go to a 4-year school but you do need something after high school.”
He emphasized that a 1-year credential for something like digital manufacturing or a 2-year associate degree to get into advanced manufacturing or agriculture will increase a youth’s chances in the modern 21st century economy.
Bill spoke about the global view of the Indiana Youth Institute. “While we’re providing services to youth-serving professionals around the state, we’re trying to get information out to the general public,” he said. “Parents, raise your kids. We need to volunteer and mentor kids. We need to make kids aware of all of their career and academic opportunities beyond the traditional 4-year college route.”
Part of IYI’s training involves a statewide conference where they offer workshops and a keynote speaker. This year’s speaker will be Leigh Anne Tuohy, whose family was depicted in the popular film, The Blind Side. Bill felt that Sandra Bullock’s portrayal of her may have been a little bit understated. “She is that electric of a personality and that outgoing of a person,” he exclaimed. “From her family’s story, she encourages people to get involved with their families and to get involved in their communities.”
Bill challenges his fellow Hoosiers to “mentor somebody who hasn’t seen work modeled yet.” For more information on the Indiana Youth Institute and how to get involved, visit their website at iyi.org.