Nonprofit Spotlight: Communities In Schools of Wayne County

We are constantly amazed by the incredible things that our program partners are providing to the community. Each of our partner agencies is working in one of our four focus areas; childhood success, youth success, economic mobility and access to health. In this article, we will focus on one of our partners that is working to provide resources and build relationships to motivate and inspire students.   

Communities In Schools of Wayne County (CIS) ensures that students are given everything they need to succeed in school and beyond. The mission of CIS is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

Keeping Kids in Schools 

Communities In Schools of Wayne County (CIS) has been serving students in Wayne County since 2001. They are a part of the national Communities In Schools organization that helps students all over the country. CIS is currently working in five Wayne County districts; Richmond Community Schools, Northeastern Schools, Centerville-Abington Schools, Nettle Creek Schools, and Western Wayne Schools.  

There are currently 20 site-based coordinators who are all assigned to one of the five districts. Each of the site coordinators is school-based and always available for students. On a normal day they work alongside the teachers to welcome students into school. Site coordinators identify children who may need any variety of resources to help them through the school day. They also work with students to prepare them to go home for the day. Site coordinators work with the administration and teachers to fill in the gaps by providing students with resources and interventions to help them focus on their academics.   

Site coordinators also do case management for students who need it. At CIS, case management is when the site coordinators identify students at the beginning of the school year who may have barriers to their learning. Barriers could be multiple things like lack of transportation, a need for tutoring, or a need for supplemental meals to take home. Site coordinators stay in contact with these students throughout the school year. They check in every couple of weeks or daily depending on the situation and the student’s needs. While academics, attendance, and behavior are the things that allow site coordinators to track success, they know that caring adult mentorship helps to motivate and inspire students.   

Communities In Schools

Support Comes in Many Forms 

Communities In Schools has achieved great success through case management. During the 2020-2021 school year, they were able to manage cases for 804 students. Of these students:  

  • 82 percent of students improved the academically  
  • 91 percent of students improved their behavior  
  • 72 percent of students improved their attendance   
  • 91 percent of them were able to access free or reduced lunch  

CIS loves to see improvement in students’ academics, behavior, and attendance, but they also prioritize mentorship. Site coordinators work with many children each year, and resources make a huge difference in their lives, but sometimes a caring adult can make all the difference. CIS does not just want to improve students’ lives; they want to help motivate and inspire students to reach for more than academic success. Mentorship from an adult who genuinely cares for their mentee can expose them to support and inspiration that they might not receive. Bill Milliken, founder of Communities In Schools National, pinned a phrase that Communities In Schools of Wayne County operates by “Programs Don’t Change People, Relationships Do.” 

Back to School 

As teachers, administration, students, and site coordinators prepare to start another school year, CIS is gearing up to provide resources and mentorship to students. Because of relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, CIS has started back up their full staff meetings. These staff meetings allow their team to meet together and share resources that site coordinators need to be aware of in the community.   

In recent years, they have also been placing a focus on childhood homelessness and mentorship. Because of the increased need for affordable housing, CIS recently brought on a homelessness liaison who works with the families of students who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness. The liaison provides families with support and resources to help families find a sustainable living situation.   

Another initiative that has been around for a while but recently taken another form is the Ready, Set, Grow fundraiser. This fundraiser used to be exclusively a school supplies drive, but it has become a flexible fundraiser to meet a multitude of situational needs. Ready, Set, Grow is a fund that can be used to provide school supplies at the beginning of the year, but it can also be used to meet needs such as purchasing a bed for a student without one or helping to provide transportation to a student struggling to make it to school or their job.   

Communities In Schools

Partnership and Collaboration 

All of our program partners are working in one of our four impact areas. Communities In Schools focuses on the future of some of our youngest residents. As a result of CIS’ incredible work, we have supported the Site Coordinator Program for many years. In 2021, because of our wonderful donors and giving campaigns, we supported the Site Coordinator Program with $37,500. With these funds, Communities In Schools can continue filling the gaps with resources that school systems can’t provide. 

We look forward to another great school year and we can’t wait to see the positive impact that CIS has on our community. We have so many other fantastic agency partners working in our four areas of focus, childhood success, youth successeconomic successaccess to health. Read more about their stories here, or sign up for our newsletter to learn more about what we do.