Communities In Schools

Building relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life.

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$73.7M

Annual Revenue

90%

Program Expenses

5%

CEO Compensation

Advocacy

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Awareness

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Direct Service

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Private Sector Collaboration

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Policy Legislation

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Research

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Financials

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Management

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About Communities In Schools

Communities in Schools was founded in 1977 by Bill Milliken, who believed that in order to prevent dropouts, students needed hands-on, dedicated mentors who would build solid relationships and address students’ complex needs. CIS works on both the school and the individual level, connecting students with varying needs with local community partners who can provide them. CIS is constantly evaluating their model and making necessary changes in order to have the most impact as possible.

The main goal of CIS is preventing students from dropping out of school. Dropout rates have decreased nationally, but low-income and minority students are still lagging behind. Each year, over one million students drop out of high school. The national graduation rate is around 70%, however, this number can be closer to 50% in urban areas.  Dropouts can expect to earn nearly $200,000 less in their lifetime than students who graduate from high school. When comparing to those who graduate from college, this gap increases to $1 million. Reducing dropouts also improves the economy, as increased wages from education attainment result in increased tax revenue and decreased costs related to public health, crime, and welfare.


Why We Chose to Feature This Organization

What drew us to CIS is their holistic approach to improving education for lower-income students. They don’t just look at test scores and send tutors, instead they extensively evaluate and analyze why students aren’t succeeding, and what needs to be done to change that. They work at both the school level and the individual level, providing customized solutions to those in need.

Lower-income students can face many problems that lead to academic underachievement and increased dropout rates, including lack of access to nutritional food, extracurricular activities and exercise, proper clothing, mentors, and limited conflict resolution and coping skills. CIS brings their highly trained site coordinators to work in low-income schools and connect students and families with school programs, businesses, and community resources that provide services to meet their needs. CIS’s work to keep kids in school is very important. Their results are promising, with 91% of participating seniors graduating or receiving a GED, and 99% of participating students staying in school. In funding CIS, they can reach more schools, more students, and more lives.

Direct Service

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Policy & Legislature

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Financials

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Management

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Communities in Schools (CIS) recognizes that low-income students face many barriers to graduation and lifetime success, and that these barriers vary student to student and school to school. They take a holistic approach to serving students, by first evaluating and addressing the needs of entire schools, and then evaluating and addressing targeted case-by-case needs of individual students. Oftentimes there are available community resources that could be of help, but families and schools aren’t aware that they exist or do not know how to obtain them. This is where CIS steps in.

CIS affiliates assess schools across the United States to determine the need for CIS. Once a need is discovered, they work with school district superintendents, principals, and teachers to identify what their students need the most. They then hire and train a site coordinator who works inside the school to develop a plan of action and bring together schools, businesses, and community resources to address various needs of the students. CIS focuses on both academic and non-academic needs. Students can’t succeed in school if they can’t physically read the board, are hungry or cold, or need to spend their afternoons caring for younger siblings. Therefore, it is crucial to consider a wide range of needs and solutions when working to prevent students from dropping out.

The backbone of the CIS model is their extensive network comprised of national and local teams. Their national network is responsible for developing and communicating their model to state offices; continuously researching, evaluating, and improving their program; fostering collaboration between the national office, local branches, and community partners; and raising awareness and support for their program as well as for educational reforms and policies.

State offices act as the liaison between the national office and local CIS affiliates. They are responsible for communicating the model and its successes and failures. They also work to generate support for the program and expand into additional schools as needed.

As previously mentioned, they take a holistic approach in their model, starting with school-wide services, moving to targeted programs, and finishing with individualized support. In differentiating the levels of support, most students in a CIS school will be served, and students with considerable needs receive the extra aid and attention that they need in order to prevent them from dropping out. The support they provide is wide ranging, and includes the following areas and topics:

  • Academic Assistance: Tutors, quiet places to study, test prep
  • Basic Needs: Food, safe transportation, clothing
  • Behavioral Interventions: Coping skills, one-on-one coaching, conflict resolution
  • College and Career Prep: College application assistance, scholarships, campus tours, mock interviews, internships, and leadership training courses
  • Community and Service Learning: Volunteer opportunities and mentor programs
  • Enrichment: Field trips, athletic leagues, after-school and summer school programs, youth conferences
  • Family Engagement: Parenting classes, family nights, connecting parents with counselors, social workers, translators, etc.
  • Life Skills: Personal health and hygiene, financial literacy, study tips, time management, goal setting
  • Mental Health: Resources and referrals for mental health professionals and programs
  • Physical Health: Physical activity, healthy eating, outdoor time

Site coordinators continuously monitor progress made in schools and individual students and adjust the program offerings and resources as needed. They continuously meet with students, faculty, families, and community partners to assess what is working, what could be improved, and what needs still aren’t being met. In addition to monitoring the progress of participating schools and students, CIS internally and externally monitors and evaluates their own model. If they see room for improvement in their model, they analyze the problem and implement new approaches.

The CIS model has had proven success. They’ve served 2,300 schools, with nearly 1.6 million students served in 2016. 91% of CIS seniors either graduated or received a GED, which is 9% more than the national average of 82%. 99% of their students stayed in school, with 78% of improving their attendance. Students have also benefited from improved behavior and promotion to the next grade. We look forward to helping CIS grow their reach and continue improving these statistics.

Poverty and education are both complex problems, and when the two are combined, the complexity increases. CIS knows that in order to support children in poverty, an extensive network of support and programs are necessary to help them overcome their challenges. As budgets decrease, children in poverty often lose access to programs that benefit them the most. While policy and legislature aren’t the main focus of CIS, they have endorsed and advocated on behalf of a few legislative bills.

One important bill that CIS has endorsed is the Mentoring to Succeed Act of 2017. This bill would allow the Department of Education to make assistance available for school-based mentoring programs that assist at-risk students in developing cognitive and social-emotional skills, as well as preparing them for success in high school, postsecondary education, and the workforce. At-risk students are defined as: living in a high-poverty area with a high rate of violence, failing academically or at risk of dropping out of school, pregnant or a parent, a gang member, in foster care, has been or is homeless, is chronically absent, has changed schools three or times in six months, has been in contact with the juvenile justice system, has a history of multiple disciplinary actions, or is an English language learner. The bill was introduced in the Senate in July of 2017 and is awaiting the next action. CIS continues to advocate on its behalf and raise awareness of its importance.

Management

Communities In Schools

Dale Erquiaga

President and CEO

Experience and Education
  • Superintendent of Public Instruction at the State of Nevada
  • Master’s in Leadership from Grand Canyon University
  • Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Nevada at Reno
Compensation
$441,000*
*please note that this is an estimate based on the previous CEO’s salary. 2017 Form 990 is not yet available

Communities In Schools

Gary Chapman

Vice President of Business Development

Experience and Education
  • Adolescent Therapist at Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia
  • Executive Director at Berrien County Collaborative – Family Collection and Communities in Schools
Compensation
$190,000

Communities In Schools

Heather Clawson

Executive Vice President of Research, Learning, and Accreditation

Experience and Education
  • Principal at ICF International
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Social Psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno
  • Bachelor of Science in Psychology from James Madison University
Compensation
$181,000

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