Who We Are
Communities In Schools started in Georgia nearly 40 years ago and is now the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, serving 1.6 million youth in 2,400 schools, 355 districts in 25 states. ICF International recently completed a comprehensive five-year evaluation, comparing the results to over 1,600 studies screened by the Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse. ICF concluded that the Communities In Schools model is cost effective, reduces dropout rates and increases grad uation rates.
Communities In Schools, an independent nonprofit corporation focused on school success and dropout prevention, has its roots in Georgia. In the early 70’s, Bill Milliken, Neil Shorthouse and David Lewis established Cities In Schools in Atlanta as a private/public partnership to help urban kids graduate from high school and plan successful futures. Years later the name was changed to Communities In Schools (CIS).
The Communities In Schools national office provides detailed information on the network. Communities In Schools of Georgia continues to be an innovator in the CIS network and developed the Performance Learning Centers® (PLCs). The success of our PLC initiative has led to the program now being expanded to other CIS communities throughout the United States. There are 32 local Georgia CIS affiliates. Henry County is one of those affiliates.
In Henry County
Communities In Schools of Henry County (CIS Henry) began operating in 2012 by implementing the CIS Model in its 13 middle schools. Graduation Coaches in these middle schools were re-assigned to take on the responsibilities of CIS Site Coordinators. CIS Henry through a restructuring of the organization in 2016, decided to stop operation in the middle schools and began operating in 1 high school, Henry County High. Through community partnerships such as the United Way, CIS Henry is able to directly impact students to meet their needs to help them succeed in school and achieve in life.
Communities In Schools surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. The nation-wide network of nonprofit organizations focuses on improving student and school success by providing needed support and services to students and schools. Our goal is to support youth, improve graduation rates, academic achievement and job and post-secondary school readiness.
Communities In Schools believes that programs don’t change kids, relationships do. Our philosophy is embedded in the CIS five basics for kids©, which focus on building a supportive environment for children and youth to help them thrive and be successful.At Communities In Schools, everything we do is guided by the “Five Basics.” Developed by our founder Bill Milliken, the Five Basics are a set of essentials that every child needs and deserves.
The First Basic: A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult. Millions of young people in this country don’t have “traditional” families that include a mother and father who live together. In many cases, children are not part of a larger extended family or religious community – two entities which have characteristically served as mediating structures to provide a safety net for young people. It’s up to the entire community to make sure someone cares about these children. Communities In Schools provides the first Basic by connecting students with mentors and other caring adults. Nearly 90 percent of Communities In Schools affiliates provide mentors who offer encouragement and academic support. Communities In Schools staff members also serve as positive role models for students.
The Second Basic: A safe place to learn and grow. In today’s world, a child’s neighborhood is not necessarily a safe or nurturing place. Schools, too, may not be as safe and secure as we would hope. The extended family is much less common than in previous generations, and young people may feel like they live in a community where few people know or care about them. For many children, it’s much worse than that. They know they’re living in a bad, unhealthy place, where violence, drugs, gangs, unemployment and multigenerational poverty are commonplace. Whether through afterschool programs or nontraditional school models, Communities In Schools is dedicated to ensuring that all students have a safe, appropriate environment in which to learn and achieve their potential.
The Third Basic: A healthy start and a healthy future. Children can’t concentrate on school work if they are hungry, cold, in need of medical or dental care, or have trouble seeing the teacher. Basic health and human services are essential for every child. When families are themselves in need (and often unsure about how to get help from the labyrinth of public agencies), it’s up to the communit y to step in. Communities In Schools affiliates provide the third Basic by connecting students and families with health care, vision and dental exams, food programs, child care, teen pregnancy prevention programs and teen parenting resources, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and intervention, sports and recreation programs, and much more.
The Fourth Basic: A marketable skill to use upo n graduation. Our children must acquire the knowledge, self-respect and discipline they’ll need in order to secure a future for themselves and their families. As the American economy has shifted from an industrial-based model to one based on knowledge, young people need a different set of skills to be successful after they complete school – whether they enter college or the world of work. In addition to basic literacy and computer skills, today’s labor force requires workers to have problem-solving skills, analytical ability and personal qualities like adaptability and self-management. Our affiliates provide the fourth Basic through tutoring, literacy programs, career planning, employment training and job shadowing, leadership skills training, and college readiness and access programs.
The Fifth Basic: A chance to give back to peers and community. Our founder Bill Milliken was once asked at a Congressional hearing, “What is the difference between the kids you’ve seen who made it and ones who didn’t?” He replied, “The children I have seen succeed are the children we allowed to succeed. We allowed them to give something to us. We need to listen to them, and then get them involved in feeding people, tutoring other children – that’s how they feel part of a community.” Every child ought to have a chance to give back. The community must create environments for young people in which everyone’s gifts are nurtured, and service to others is expected and rewarded. Communities In Schools affiliates provide the fifth Basic to students by strengthening involvement in community service and service-learning, mentoring and tutoring younger children, volunteering with senior citizens, special community arts projects and more. Communities In Schools surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school.