FAQs

Answers and fast facts about Communities In Schools.

What makes Communities In Schools different from other youth-serving organizations?

What sets us apart is our model of integrated student services. Communities In Schools positions a dedicated staff member – a school-based coordinator – inside partner schools. The site coordinator works with school staff to identify students at risk of not graduating; assess school and student needs; and establish relationships with local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers, and parent and volunteer organizations to harness needed resources. Visit our Interactive Model to learn more about how Communities In Schools works and makes a difference.

Who does Communities In Schools serve?

Communities In Schools serves the most vulnerable students in the United States’ most dropout-prone school districts, kindergarten through senior year of high school. During the 2010-2011 school year, 87 percent of the students receiving Communities In Schools services were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Read our latest annual report for a more in-depth look at the students we serve.

What are the “Five Basics?”

Developed by Communities In Schools Founder and Vice Chairman Bill Milliken, the “Five Basics” are a set of essentials that every child needs and deserves. Communities In Schools works to make sure that students are provided with the Five Basics, so that they have every opportunity to succeed. The Five Basics include: 

  1. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.
  2. A safe place to learn and grow.
  3. A healthy start and a healthy future.
  4. A marketable skill to use upon graduation.
  5. A chance to give back to peers and community.

Learn more about the Five Basics in this fact sheet.

How does Communities In Schools work within a school?

Communities In Schools site coordinators are each assigned a school from which to operate. They serve on the management team of the school and collaborate with staff to identify students at risk of dropping out. In addition, the site coordinators forge community partnerships that bring programs and funding to the school in order to benefit students. Every year, Communities In Schools performs an annual needs assessment to determine what services students require most and how our organization can best deliver the services. Communities In Schools becomes involved in a school only at the invitation of the school or school district. Visit our Interactive Model to learn more.

How does Communities In Schools know its work is effective?

Communities In Schools has been proven through rigorous methods in multiple studies to have positive benefits for students. This includes improving dropout rates, on-time graduation rates, attendance rates and academics. In 2011 and 2012 respectively, we finished a five-year evaluation and a return on investment (ROI) study conducted by third-party research institutes. Our ROI study revealed that for every dollar invested in Communities In Schools, $11.60 in economic benefit is returned to the community.

To learn more about this research, please visit our publications page and click on National Evaluation.

What is a site coordinator?

A site coordinator is a paid staff member positioned inside Communities In Schools partner schools. He or she fills a pivotal role as the single point of contact working within a school to provide integrated student services. Site coordinators connect students and families with community resources that address both academic and nonacademic needs. They act as positive role models, mentors and friends to students supported by Communities In Schools, and do everything within their power to help students succeed.

What kind of training and experience do Communities In Schools site coordinators have?

The training and experience of Communities In Schools site coordinators varies throughout the network, although most have extensive experience and educational background in youth development. Many of our site coordinators are former teachers and school staff, social workers, AmeriCorps members, or lifelong mentors and volunteers. All are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students.

Once hired, Communities In Schools site coordinators receive a comprehensive orientation and training for their specific roles and responsibilities. This rigorous, required training program includes:

  • Building community partnerships
  • Student and family needs assessment
  • Level One and Level Two service implementation
  • Data collection and reporting
  • Effective school coordination

Site coordinators also have the opportunity to complete a 16-month certification program, the highest level of professional development offered by Communities In Schools.

What are “Level One” and “Level Two” services?

Communities In Schools provides both “Level One” and “Level Two” services to students. 

Level One services are programs that are accessible to all students within a school, including students who are not case managed by Communities In Schools. Services can include clothing or school supplies, topic-specific assemblies, career fairs, field trips, health screenings and grief counseling.

Level Two services are targeted interventions tailored to specific students, and usually require an enrollment procedure. Level Two services are based on assessing individual student needs and developing an individual student plan to address those needs with a holistic and coordinated approach to service delivery. Level Two services can include counseling, mentoring, free or low-cost health/dental care, finding the student a safe place to live or ensuring the student has transportation to and from school. 

Communities In Schools has proven that this comprehensive approach has the most effective impact on students with complex academic and social needs.

To learn more about the different kinds of services we provide, visit our Interactive Model.

Do Communities In Schools students continue to receive services after they graduate?

Communities In Schools formally serves K-12 students, but our site coordinators frequently stay in touch with students beyond high school. Many continue to be a positive force in students’ lives after the students graduate from high school, and provide moral support as young people strike out on their own. In addition, Communities In Schools has a growing Alumni Network that students can join after graduating from high school. Contact Alumni Network Specialist Mordecai Scott to learn more about the Alumni Network and get involved.

How do I get Communities In Schools in my school?

Communities In Schools has a detailed growth plan. There is a process for starting and accrediting a local affiliate. Learn more here.

Please visit our “Where We Are” page to see if there is an existing affiliate is in your area. Or for more information, please contact us at info@cisnet.org.

How can I help Communities In Schools?

There are numerous ways to help Communities In Schools support students to stay in school and achieve in life. You can make a tax-deductible donation, or volunteer your time at local events and through mentoring programs. Please visit our Volunteer page to find opportunities in your area. You can also visit your local affiliate’s page for more information about how to make a difference.

How much of my donation will be used to support Communities In Schools initiatives?

Every dollar committed to Communities In Schools is well spent. For less than $200 a year, we can help a student who is in danger of dropping out stay on track to graduation. Because of a largely volunteer workforce, approximately 90 percent of the organization’s expenses go directly to program work supporting students.

Communities In Schools has been recognized for its sound business practices and financial transparency, earning a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s premier nonprofit evaluator, for responsible fiscal management. We have earned the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance National Charity Seal, having met all 20 of the standards for strong governance. In 2011, Philanthropedia, a nonprofit aimed at helping donors give more strategically, recommended Communities In Schools as a high-impact nonprofit working with at-risk youth in the U.S.

How is Communities In Schools funded?

Communities In Schools’ work is funded through numerous sources, including federal and corporate grants, as well as foundation and individual donations.

What types of corporate partnerships are helpful to Communities In Schools?

Partnerships with corporations are critical to Communities In Schools’ mission. Through volunteerism, cause marketing, student internship programs and employee giving, our corporate partners are dedicated to addressing the dropout crisis and strengthening our future workforce. Partners include Costco, Procter & Gamble, Altria, AT&T, MetLife and many others. Inquiries about possible partnerships can be directed to Brenda Kittles at 703-518-2562.

Does Communities In Schools have someone on staff who I can interview about the organization?

To conduct an informal interview with a Communities In Schools staff member, please contact Marketing and Public Relations Manager Cindy Nixon at nixonc@cisnet.org.

Take Action

Contact your representative about legislation that affects all children’s futures.