For Some Kids, Happiness at the Holidays Might Be a Simple Pair of Shoes

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Six weeks into a recent school year, Communities In Schools site coordinator Donna noticed that Ricky*, a sixth grader she was working with had already been absent a total of 20 days.

It was enough of a red flag to prompt Donna to visit Ricky’s family. She found that, between Ricky and his younger brother, there was only one pair of shoes. That meant each boy attended school on alternating days – whenever it was his turn to wear the shoes. Immediately, Donna was able to get both boys new shoes and other essentials, allowing them to overcome one of many barriers that kept them from going to and performing well in school.

Heading into the holidays, when Americans will spend more on themselves and their families than at any other time of the year, it might be hard to imagine that students like Ricky and his brother struggle just to have just one set of clothes and shoes of their own.

According to National Retail Federation research, Americans would spend an average of $935.58 per person during the 2016 holiday shopping season. Candy, greeting cards, postage and flowers account for $207.07 of that total expenditure, enough to provide a winter wardrobe for an average teen boy.

But kids across the country like Ricky and his brother are living in a different reality. Data from the Southern Education Foundation showed that a majority of schoolchildren – about 51%– attending the nation’s public schools came from low-income families.

Lack of shoes and basic wardrobe is only a part of their challenge. Children can have difficulty concentrating on school work if they are hungry, cold, in need of medical or dental care or have trouble seeing the teacher.

Communities In Schools leaders and coordinators fill the gap by providing students with the essential resources they need to focus on their learning, and so teachers can focus on teaching.

During this season of giving, with a growing number of public school students now living in poverty and facing substantial challenges to stay in school, it only takes one person to make a difference in a student’s life. Click here to learn more about how you can help keep kids in school.

*The students name has been changed.

Original Story by Gary Chapman of the National office.

All in for Kids on Georgia Gives Day

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This year, two successful campaigns centered on raising awareness and funds for nonprofit organizations are joining forces – combining GA Gives Day with #GivingTuesday.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season when many people focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. GA Gives Day, also rooted in the Thanksgiving season, has raised more than $13.5 million in donations for nearly 2,700 Georgia nonprofits since it began in 2012. Led by the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, the GA Gives Day initiative maintains a free online fundraising platform and helps teach and mobilize everyone with a stake in the community – organizations, corporate sponsors, government agencies, media partners and citizens – to raise awareness and support for nonprofits.

We believe that one of the best ways to get involved is right here, in your own community. Show your love for local nonprofits this November 28th by giving a little – and together, we’ll do a lot for the organizations we care about. Whether you can donate ten dollars or ten thousand, it all adds up to an incredible day of support for the nonprofits that meet urgent needs, enrich lives and build thriving communities.

Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta relies on civic and government sources of support, businesses, foundations, corporations and generous individuals like you to operate our award-winning programs for Atlanta’s most vulnerable students. Each year, we must raise more than $2 million from these private sources of support to sustain our programs.

When you donate to CIS of Atlanta on GA Gives Day, you are investing in a child’s education and their hope for the future. We serve more than 4,000 students in 65 schools by building strong relationships with students, parents and educators. Our full-time Site Coordinators work in our schools to serve as a trusted adult and role model for our students. This allows us to identify students' challenges and mobilize community support to overcome obstacles. We offer wraparound support for all of our students including: grief counseling, a food pantry, home visits, uniform assistance, healthcare resources and college application help.

For every dollar you invest in CIS, $11.60 worth of economic benefits are created for the community. Your donation can help provide our students with the five basics every child needs and deserves:

1. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult
2. A safe place to learn and grow
3. A healthy start and a healthy future
4. A marketable skill to use upon graduation
5. A chance to give back to peers and community

Among the students that received our services during the 2016-2017 school year, we saw:

• 92% graduated or were promoted to the next grade – more than 8 percent higher than the state average.
• 92% stayed in school.
• 93% improved their behavior.
• 85% experienced a lack of parental involvement and relied on our site coordinators as a trusted adult.

Many of our students face challenges that put into perspective the enormous accomplishment that the statistics above indicate and would be impossible for many adults to ever achieve if dealt the same hand. They face traumas daily like food insecurities, drug or alcohol abuse from caregivers, clothing and basic necessity needs and even homelessness. Yet, their resiliency is tremendous. When we asked our students about our model, they said:

• 99% felt that they would graduate from high school.
• 93% felt that they developed goals for the future.
• 85% were more self-assured and had a better self-image – impacting the psyche of a student is priceless.

We believe that when the needs of students are met, they can be free to learn and teachers can be free to teach. Are you ready to help kids succeed in school and strengthen our communities? Please consider a gift to us to show how you are #AllInForKids and support our campaign on GA Gives Day & #GivingTuesday.

To donate, visit

To see our impact on the Atlanta community, follow along with us on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

21st Century Community Learning Center Awards CIS of Atlanta More Than $1.3 Million

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The Grant will Fund “Real World Academy” in Banneker and Creekside High Schools

ATLANTA – Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta, in partnership with Fulton County Schools, has been awarded the FY2018 Georgia Department of Education 21st Century Community Learning Center grant. This competitive federal grant program is designed to establish or expand community learning centers that provide students with enrichment opportunities that complement the students’ regular academic program.

The $1.3 million grant will allow CIS of Atlanta to provide additional support for at-risk 10th, 11th, and 12th-grade students at Banneker and Creekside high schools. In conjunction with Georgia’s High Demand Career Initiative, school principals, school system staff, and CIS of Atlanta leadership identified Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) as an area of need for these students to reinforce classroom work, learn key job readiness skills, and gain real-world exposure to STEM careers.

Therefore, CIS of Atlanta will create an after-school and summer STEM academic and enrichment program called Real World Academy. At each school, the program will serve a total of 120 at-risk students.

The program parameters will include:

• Participation 12 hours a week after-school for the entire school year
• A two-week program during the summer that will include job skills training and job shadowing
• Homework help during each session
• Mentorship partnerships with local colleges and universities
• A comprehensive STEM curriculum implemented each week
• Parent University that will meet one time per month during the school year and will follow a designated curriculum.

Real World Academy’s hands-on approach to STEM concepts and careers will spark students’ interest in the field, support classroom work, offer access to caring mentors from the community, and increase parent engagement.

Locally, CIS of Atlanta empowered more than 30,000 students during the 2016-2017 school year. 4,000 of those students received intensive, individualized support and the nonprofit anticipates that number to increase to 4,700 students during the 2017-2018 school year. CIS of Atlanta is currently serving four school districts, including Atlanta Public Schools and Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton County schools.

CIS of Atlanta recently expanded its regular program to serve an additional 10 schools, bringing the total to 18, in partnership with Fulton County Schools. This focus in the South Fulton Learning Community is to further the district’s efforts in providing wraparound support for schools that have high-need students.

About Communities In Schools of Atlanta: Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta, established in 1972, is the nation’s first, largest and most effective dropout prevention organization, dedicated to doing whatever it takes to help students succeed in school and achieve in life. Operating in more than 62 schools, mainly in Atlanta Public Schools, as well as Clayton County Public Schools, DeKalb County Schools and Fulton County Schools, CIS of Atlanta supports more than 36,000 students and their families in the 2016-2017 academic year. Based directly inside the schools, CIS of Atlanta connects students and their families to basic and critical educational and community-based resources, tailored to each student’s specific needs. Click here to learn more about CIS of Atlanta. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Media Contacts: Morgan Rabby & Tara Murphy | 360 Media, Inc. — 404.577.8686 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CIS of Atlanta Contributes to Major Gains in Metro Atlanta Schools

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Communities in Schools of Atlanta works with diligence, persistence, and passion every single day to build a better education system in our city and help Atlanta youth achieve success. When contributing to organizations such as CIS Atlanta, most people desire hard evidence of the impact they are having on their community. CIS Atlanta by no means just “talks the talk.” Thanks to the results of the 2017 Georgia Milestones, CIS is proud to say with confidence that we “walk the walk” and truly have an impact on the youth of Atlanta.

This past July, the 2017 Georgia Milestones showed significant gains in Atlanta Public Schools testing. Superintendent Meria Castarphen declared that these results were clear proof of the hard work Atlanta was going to turn the school system around. A total of 57 Atlanta schools (two-thirds of the entire school district!) demonstrated improved test performance, predominantly due to organizations like Communities in Schools. To read more of the results and statistics from the 2017 Georgia Milestones, click here.

In addition to significant improvement in test scores, the state has also shown an increase in graduation rates. The Georgia Department of Education recently released graduation rates over the past four years, which showed a whopping 35.15 percent increase in Clayton County Public Schools graduation rates over the past six years. According to these same statistics, this is the first year Georgia graduation rates have surpassed 80 percent since new federal laws went into effect in 2011.

By providing support both in and out of the classroom as well as identifying and addressing barriers that prevent students from succeeding, CIS site coordinators create a better learning environment for underprivileged students and help empower them to realize their full potential. These interactions have a direct impact on students’ testing abilities and enable students to graduate from high schools and even further their educations by attending college.

As Atlanta expands into an even more incredible city, its youth grow into more successful, capable, and distinguished young people thanks to organizations such as Communities in Schools. We cannot wait for years to come to see more improvements in the Atlanta Public School System!

You can learn more about the CIS process here.

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    Atlanta, GA 30303

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