Sheriffs: AT&T Foundation Grant sends ‘Strong Signal’ to Indiana kids, communities

BRAZIL – About one in five Indiana kids are growing up in poverty. Nearly half are on free-and-reduced lunch. These so-called ‘at-risk kids’ can benefit from everyone’s help to excel in school and graduate, to productively join the workforce, and to make logical lawful decisions,” says Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen.

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen

That’s one reason why Indiana sheriffs and deputies are building and operating the 62-acre nonprofit Indiana Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch, adds Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden.

Clay County Sheriff Paul Harden

“The mission of ISYR is to bond with at-risk kids, mentor future law enforcement officers, and comfort young witnesses and victims of crime.”

Vigo County Sheriff John Plasse says the Youth Ranch recently received much-welcomed help from AT&T Foundation through a $25,000 grant. This grant will help fund “Sheriff’s Reward Retreats” this fall and next spring for underserved and underrepresented students who are excelling academically and staying on track for on-time graduation.

“While at ISYR, students can learn life skills about personal safety, substance abuse, cybercrimes, and bullying,” says UAW Local 933 President Gary Holmes, a Youth Ranch board member. “They can enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking, hiking, drone flying, and safe ATV riding. They can also be introduced to Indiana’s technical schools and apprentice programs, community college, and four-year institutions, so they keep envisioning and pursuing a better life for themselves and their families.”

AT&T Indiana President Bill Soards

“AT&T is committed to advancing education, strengthening communities, and improving lives. We have a long history of supporting projects like the Youth Ranch and to help the nonprofit create learning opportunities, promote academic and economic achievement,” said AT&T Indiana President Bill Soards in presenting the $25,000 grant.

ISYR’s Nielsen agreed the company has a tradition of supporting Indiana communities through its signature philanthropic initiative, AT&T Aspire, “which drives innovation in education to promote student success in school and beyond. With a financial commitment of $500 million since 2008, AT&T is leveraging technology, relationships, and social innovation to help all students make their biggest dreams a reality.

“AT&T saw a great collaboration opportunity with our Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch,” Nielsen added. “We truly appreciate their ongoing efforts. AT&T Foundation’s grant sends a ‘strong signal’ to Indiana kids, families, and communities.”

Neilsen also pointed out sheriffs, police, and fire chiefs continue to work with AT&T on a communications platform called FirstNet.

“FirstNet is the only nationwide, high-speed broadband communications platform dedicated to and purpose-built for America’s first responders and the extended public safety community,” Nielsen said. “Shaped by the vision of the first responder community and Congress following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, FirstNet stands above commercial offerings. It is built with AT&T in a public-private partnership with the First Responder Network Authority – an independent agency within the federal government.”

“FirstNet is providing public safety with truly dedicated coverage and capacity when they need it – unique benefits like an always-on priority, preemption for first responders, and high-quality Band 14 spectrum,” said AT&T’s Deric Resler, who works on FirstNet across Indiana and joined Soards in presenting the grant. “These advanced capabilities help fire, EMS, and law enforcement save lives and protect their communities.”

Nielsen, Harden, Plasse, and Holmes serve as volunteer board members for ISYR. Other directors include Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux, Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers, Cass County Sheriff Ed Schroder, Clark County Sheriff Jamey Noel, Grant County Sheriff Reggie Nevels, La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd, former Marion County Sheriff John Layton, Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain, Ripley County Sheriff Jeff Cumberworth, Vermillion County Sheriff Mike Phelps and Southern Indiana auto dealer John Jones.

For more information or to donate, call 317-460-4242, email or write to the Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch, 5325 N. State Road 59, Brazil, IN 47834.