Smart Sprouts

Smart Sprouts is an after-school program designed to help elementary-age children develop life skills and improve their academic performance. This program lasts the duration of the school year. The start time begins at school dismissal, 3:15 p.m., and ends at approximately 5:30 p.m., or until the child/children are picked up by a guardian. This after-school program has a turn-key curriculum designed for volunteers to use. The target goal is to increase the students’ reading capacity and academic performance, while developing safe relationships with adult volunteers.

Our SPROUTS are kids from kindergarten through fifth grade who currently attend after-school programs. Our volunteer BUDS mentor them, especially with reading and math skills. We have BUDS for our Smart Sprouts in 17 locations in McLean County! The Smart Sprouts program is administered in all locations throughout the school year. Any child attending partnering after-school programs is welcome to participate in the Smart Sprouts program.

The BUDS who tutor will help Smart Sprouts one-on-one with homework; work on reading, writing and math skills; read to the children or listen to them read. We also have BUDS who will teach life skills, such as fitness, nutrition, decision making, problem solving, responsibility, good citizenship, and financial skills.

YWCA has partnered with the Regional Office of Education to provide training resources for volunteer BUDS to show them how to best mentor children. Our BUDS have professional curriculum guides and on-site staff to help. In other words, we help our BUDS to help the children every step of the way! Parents may ask that their child attend Smart Sprouts, or teachers may recommend children if they are not currently attending the after-school program.



Smart Sprouts is offered in the following after-school locations and community centers:

  • Bent Elementary (YWCA) - 904 N. Roosevelt, Bloomington
  • Carlock Elementary (YWCA) - 301 West Washington St., Carlock
  • Cedar Ridge Elementary (YMCA) - 2808 Breezewood Blvd., Bloomington
  • Irving Elementary (YWCA) - 602 W. Jackson, Bloomington
  • Oakland Elementary (YWCA) - 1605 E. Oakland Ave., Bloomington
  • Olympia North Elementary (YMCA) - 205 North State St., Danvers
  • Olympia West Elementary (YMCA) - 302 N School St., Minier
  • Sheridan Elementary (YWCA) - 1403 W. Walnut, Bloomington
  • Stevenson Elementary (YWCA) - 2106 Arrowhead Dr., Bloomington
  • Towanda Elementary (YMCA) - 304 S. East St., Towanda
  • Trinity Lutheran Elementary (YMCA) - 1102 W. Hamilton Rd., Bloomington
  • Washington Elementary (YWCA) - 1201 E. Washington, Bloomington
  • Boys & Girls Club - 1615 W. Illinois St., Bloomington
  • Milestones Early Learning Center - 315 Stillwell St., Bloomington
  • Unity Community Center - 632 Orlando Ave., Normal
  • Western Avenue Community Center - 600 N. Western Ave., Bloomington
  • YWCA McLean County - 1201 N. Hershey Rd., Bloomington 


If you are interested in volunteering as a Smart Sprouts Mentor, please contact RSVP! As a Smart Sprouts volunteer, you will have the opportunity to help students with homework and academic activities in an after-school setting. The program begins annually each September and runs the duration of the school year, following the District 87 schedule. Mentoring sessions vary from an hour to 2 hours, depending on your availability during the after-school hours of 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Prior to volunteering in the schools, you will need to complete these three simple DCFS requirements.  

  • Physical – If you have had a physical within the last 6 months, please have your physician fill out and sign the physical form; there is no need for a new physical. If you have not had a physical in the last 6 months, you may obtain a basic physical at a health care facility of your choice, and have the enclosed form filled out by the physician. Physicals will be reimbursed up to $35.00.  Meijer walk-in health center offers physicals for $35.00.  Please turn in proof of physical and receipt to the RSVP office for reimbursement.
  • TB test within the last 6 months from your Physician.  You may be able to receive a TB test along with your physical.  If you are unable to get a TB test along with your physical, a free test can be done at the McLean Co. Health Department.  You will need to call the Health Dept. for an appointment and be able to return 48 to 72 hours later to read the results. The number to call for an appointment is:  (309) 888-5435.  Please return your test results to RSVP staff upon completion.   
  • Fingerprints – YWCA McLean County must complete an online background check before you can proceed to be fingerprinted. In addition, the Background Check Authorization Form must be completed. This form must be taken with you to your fingerprinting location. You will receive a receipt upon completion of your background check. Local fingerprint locations are held every Tuesday at ISU Bone Student Center, Normal, 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. & 1:30 – 4:30 p.m. (located in the faculty/staff lounge behind Einstein Bagels).
For more information on the Smart Sprouts program, or to sign up as a volunteer, contact RSVP at (309) 662-0461, ext. 295 or