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Thrive After-School Program Wins CAP Award


The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) 2020 Aerospace Connections in Education (ACE) National Collaboration Point of Light Program Award was presented to a triad team: CAP’s Indiana Wing River City Composite Squadron; the Air Force Association’s P-47 Memorial Chapter 141; and the Thrive after-school program in Mt. Vernon, Ind. This new award was created to recognize the collaboration between these three entities of which Thrive students were the benefactors. The K-6 ACE program is designed to introduce students to aerospace-themed lessons focusing on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) topics, character education, and physical fitness.

Thrive, a non-profit organization, serves students from West Elementary School and Mt. Vernon Junior High School (K-8th grade). Thrive Executive Director Joy Millay said that Thrive “seeks to foster curiosity and discovery in our students, because that is how we create life-long learners. The ability to create curiosity is what made our partnership with CAP and AFA so incredibly valuable to our students.”

Strong collaboration included both CAP and AFA members helping teach ACE lessons to the students. “Few moments in life bring teachers more happiness than watching children get excited about science,” said Jessica Volz, a Thrive teacher and ACE member.

CAP’s Lt. Col. Brian Schmuck initiated the partnership program with Thrive, enlisting assistance of squadron adults and cadets, as well as Col. (Ret.) Mark Brugh, from the P-47 Memorial AFA Chapter 141. Chapter 141 sponsored the distinctive ACE shirts for the students and provided engaging flight training using the free flight simulator STEM Kit provided by CAP.

Nationwide, the CAP ACE program reached new records during the 2019-2020 school year, with more than 500 schools, over 76,000 students, and nearly 1,300 teachers from every state and two overseas DOD schools involved. AFA, as an official supporter of the ACE program, provided national ACE award grants and ACE program certificates for all students.

CAP, as a Total Force partner, plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Program.

For more information about AFA chapter involvement in CAP’s free aerospace/STEM programs, contact

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