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Inspiring New Film from Communities In Schools Demonstrates Life-Changing Impact of Empowering Students Through Personal Relationships

By Communities In Schools | Sept. 23, 2022

The Push highlights solutions to inequitable learning conditions exacerbated by the pandemic, and how the support and services Communities In Schools provides offers pathways to student success.

Arlington, Va. - September 23, 2022 – Communities In Schools® (CIS®), the national organization working to ensure every student, regardless of race, zip code, or history of marginalization has what they need to succeed in school and beyond, today released The Push, an inspiring new film that follows the relationship between a high school senior and a CIS site coordinator. The film provides an inside look at one of the many success stories unfolding in thousands of CIS schools across the country as a result of the work CIS and its coordinators do to connect students to caring adults and resources that transform their lives and their communities. 
The Push, an inspiring 22-minute documentary filmed just outside of Atlanta, tells the story of Ja-Mez, a senior at Stone Mountain High School who is preparing to graduate with his high school class of 2022 – an accomplishment that seemed impossible just two years earlier. Ja-Mez seemed likely to follow the path of many of his peers who did not finish high school. However, after meeting CIS of Atlanta site coordinator Darrell Smith, Ja-Mez is empowered and motivated to succeed.

“As a site coordinator I am often a translator between students and adults, and I have trained myself to listen with my eyes,” Smith said. “I want the audience to witness the unique and exceptional care we take in developing relationships with students we serve. I am grateful to share the work that site coordinators across the country perform daily to ensure that all students have access to the American Dream.”

CIS operates in more than 2,900 schools across the country to transform how young people see and experience the world around them. Schools with CIS site coordinators delivering its model of integrated or wraparound support experience increased attendance, promotion and graduation rates, with 96% of seniors case managed by site coordinators like Smith graduating and 73% leaving high school with plans to pursue post-secondary education.

“Providing a community of support inside schools, building social-emotional skills, and removing barriers that stand in the way of our students, CIS empowers students to write their success story,” said Rey Saldaña, president & CEO of Communities In Schools. “The difficulties that students face have existed for decades, and were only exacerbated by the pandemic, making it all the more important that CIS meets the needs of students and transforms how schools are built to support the whole child.”
As a result of the learning loss caused by the pandemic, educators across the country are overburdened while many students feel frustrated and helpless. However, CIS site coordinators have worked to fill the gaps schools face in helping to build positive and inclusive school environments while connecting students with the community resources that allow them to thrive.
“CIS continues to have an enormous impact at our school, particularly with increasing graduation rates and enabling our students to feel a sense of purpose within the community,” said Sean Costa, principal of Stone Mountain High School. “As we’ve built back after the impacts of the pandemic, CIS has been a critical resource for guiding students on a more promising path.”
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. Working directly inside more than 2,900 schools across the country, we connect students to caring adults and community resources that help them see, confront, and overcome the barriers that stand between them and a brighter future. Together, we build a powerful change movement made up of peers, students, and alumni committed to building an equitable path to education for future generations.

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