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Communities In Schools Unveils Back-to-School Initiative in Nationwide Expansion to Support 130,000 More Students in Over 200 Schools Across the Country

By Communities In Schools | Aug. 15, 2023

The CIS Network will partner with new schools and invest more resources into existing schools in preparation for the 2023-2024 school year.

Communities In Schools® (CIS®), the nation’s leading provider of integrated student supports (ISS), unveiled two groundbreaking philanthropic investments set to change the public education landscape, just in time for the new school year. 

With the backing of the Ballmer Group, CIS announced the first round of affiliates to receive a portion of a $165 million investment expanding the reach of the CIS model to 1,000 new low-income schools over the next five years.  

The education nonprofit also announced an agreement with The Studio @ Blue Meridian to invest $6 million of a $10 million donation to expand CIS to six new school districts across the country. This agreement will provide access and opportunity for more than 20,000 students.  

This school year, CIS estimates the creation of 260 new jobs, including direct service staff working inside schools. This expansion will provide the CIS model to an additional 130,000 new case-managed students. 

“Through the financial support of our generous donors and the leadership of school site coordinators, students can experience the profound difference a caring adult makes who will connect them to supplies, resources and help them make the transition from summer to a successful new school year start,” said Rey Saldaña, national president and CEO of Communities In Schools

The CIS Model is based on decades of research that supports the implementation of student aids to help them navigate nonacademic challenges they face from poverty, racism, physical or mental health concerns. These challenges often derail students' aspirations and it’s through the actions of a caring adult who provides intervention and other supports to help lift them up and steer them back on course. In practice, student supports services may include providing a meal, clean clothes, prescription eyeglasses, job and career counseling, tutors, student mentors and more.  

“We know the first weeks of school are critical to a successful school year; students who miss days at the outset of the academic year are more likely to become chronically absent and struggle in their classrooms,” said Saldaña.

“With the increased presence of Communities In Schools, and a focus on Title I-eligible schools nationwide, more students are directly impacted through our proven model. By bringing community resources directly into schools through a trained local coordinator, we ensure students are connected to additional supports resulting in positive student outcomes like increased attendance, engagement and on-time high school graduation,” he added.   

Ballmer Group Investment 

The first round of funding distributed to CIS affiliates totals $13 million of a $165 million Ballmer investment. The funding is designed to catalyze local public and private investment in the CIS model through a 1:1 match requirement over the first three years and commitments to sustain the work long-term. The 2023-2024 cohort is expected to reach over 200 schools, reaching an additional 130,000 students during the school year. The selected CIS affiliates represent 14 states from coast-to-coast, including, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia. This investment will also support Pasadena Unified School District in Pasadena, California as a licensed partner. 

The Studio @ Blue Meridian Investment 

In conjunction with the $6 million investment by The Studio @ Blue Meridian, CIS will roll out its model in six new school districts, designed to show how schools use the CIS evidence-based model of integrated student supports to meet students’ needs, improve high school graduation rates and, ultimately economic mobility. Participating districts include Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wisconsin; Santa Ana Unified School District in Santa Ana, California; Jackson Public Schools, in Jackson, Mississippi; Montgomery Public Schools in Montgomery, Alabama; Little Rock School District in Little Rock, Arkansas; and Newark Board of Education in Newark, New Jersey.   

The CIS National Office began piloting licensed partnerships five years ago with state departments of education, local education agencies, and non-profit organizations across the country. CIS licensed partners implement the same model as CIS affiliates. However, through a licensed partnership, education agencies can partner directly with the CIS National Office to become licensed to train school personnel to deliver the CIS model with education agency oversight and management. 

“These donations are an impressive validation of the time-tested way our program works,” said CIS Board of Directors Chairman Elaine Wynn. “These wonderful partners clearly share our vision by supporting our mission in such a tangible way. We are grateful to them and commit to rigorously manage their investment as this next chapter unfolds.” 

About Communities In Schools  

Communities In Schools® (CIS®) is a national organization that ensures every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background, has what they need to realize their potential in school and beyond. For more than four decades, Communities In Schools has demonstrated measurable success in creating equitable outcomes for schools and students of color and students that live in impoverished communities. During the 2021-2022 school year, 99.5 percent of students enrolled in CIS programs remained in school through the end of the school year, with 96.8 percent of K-11 students being promoted to the next grade and 95.5 percent of seniors graduating or receiving a GED. 

For more information, visit Communities In Schools, Ballmer Group and Blue Meridian Partners

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