Student Succes Story: Kemari... ATL to ACC




Students across Metro Atlanta face barriers that go beyond what you can see on the outside. Kemari was living a dream after signing his National Letter of Intent to play college football at the University of Louisville.

The dream, however, started to quickly turn into a nightmare due to unanticipated circumstance.

That is where Communities In Schools of Atlanta stepped in to help.

Committed to eliminating all barriers for students, Communities In Schools of Atlanta began working with Kemari to identify what was keeping him from being successful. A bright and smart student, he needed wrap-around support and most importantly, a stable living situation. Kemari needed the basics - housing and food to ensure he stayed in school and to achieve his dream. We are so proud that Kemari didn't give up and not only did he graduate this year from High School, but is continuing to achieve in life beyond graduation.

It doesn't end there...
Inspired to give back, Kemari participated in speaking engagements and forums targeting student-athletes at three local schools in APS and Fulton County. He used this time to talk to students about the importance of staying focused on school and not letting their external circumstances affect their internal dreams and goals.



Communities In Schools support didn't end with his graduation. We provided Kemari with items for his dorm room, which included everything from toiletries to a laptop for school work. Last week, Calleb (one of our staff) drove him to Louisville where he is ready to start a new chapter in his life.



This story is just one of the more than 30,000 successes we empower each year by surrounding students with a community of support.

We need YOUR help to do more.

Donate to Communities In Schools

With your gift, we can ensure a student's nightmare does not keep them from fulfilling their dreams.

In addition to donating, consider sharing this with your friends, coworkers and on your social channels. Spreading our message is so important to increase our reach in the community and to serve more students. Thank you in advance.

CIS of Atlanta Presents Family Literacy Day at Zoo Atlanta

Get #Lit4Literacy! Bring the family and join us for a Reading Rendezvous at Zoo Atlanta.

Sunday, June 4, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

This fun, educational day will include free food, games, prizes, karaoke, and live musical performances powered by eDay 2017.

To register, click here. Deadline to register is Friday, May 26, 2017. Must be present between 9:45 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. to pick up your tickets. Please use the education conservation gate for entry.


Recent Georgia State University Research Confirms Why We Need Programs Like CIS of Atlanta

When students perform poorly in school, it’s common practice to pull them from beneficial extracurricular activities, sports for example, instead of providing academic support. Why is that? In a recent study by Georgia State University, researchers have confirmed that preventing students from continuing these activities greatly increases their chances of dropping out. These students often have tough home lives and lack resources needed to succeed academically. Instead of punishing them for what they don’t have, creating a solid support and empowerment system could not only keep them in school but also help them excel in life.

CIS of Atlanta works to address these barriers in local schools by providing guidance to struggling students who have issues with poor attendance and behavior, low levels of parental involvement, limited exposure to academic and career enrichment opportunities, and a lack of access to basic necessities. By building relationships and mobilizing community resources, CIS serves young people and families of Atlanta in Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton County, and Atlanta public schools, working to create a successful environment where students are encouraged to be better rather than punished for not making the cut. Having recently been awarded $92K by Fulton County’s Communities Services Program, CIS isn’t slowing down anytime soon as we look towards expanding on the 60 schools we currently support.

For more information on how you can help our cause, click here.

Over 25 Dekalb, APS, Fulton & Clayton Students and Staff Recognized at 2017 Choose Success Awards

Communities In Schools of Atlanta Celebrates Students
and Raises $16,500, Bringing the Total to $286,000, for a Good Cause



ATLANTA – On Tuesday, April 18, Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta hosted its 13th Annual “Choose Success” Awards Dinner in the engaging, extraordinary Oceans Ballroom at the Georgia Aquarium. Principals, teachers, and students from APS, Dekalb, Fulton, and Clayton counties came together with CIS of Atlanta to celebrate Atlanta students who have made significant improvements in school and a difference in their communities through their “Choose Success” service projects. Schools that received awards included Cross Keys High School, F.A. Toomer Elementary School, M. Agnes Jones Elementary School, West End High School, Maynard Jackson High School, Gideons Elementary School, McNair High School, and Sylvan Hills Middle School. The “Choose Success” program began in 2004 as a means of providing students with opportunities to give back to their peers and communities, and allows students to apply for grant funds to develop and implement projects to meet needs in their communities.

“We welcomed over 300 guests and local supporters to help spotlight our mission to surround students with community support and empower them to stay in school and achieve in life,” expressed Frank Brown, CEO of CIS of Atlanta. “It wouldn’t be possible without the incredible support of those that attended and beyond. This is what keeps me energized about our work – the impact that we can make, changing the trajectory of kids’ lives. Let’s ensure Atlanta students have what they need to be successful.”

CIS of Atlanta Partners with Fulton County

Nation’s First Dropout Prevention Program Receives $92K to Fund Wrap-Around
Services for Atlanta Students and Schools


ATLANTA – Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta, the nation’s first dropout prevention program, was recently awarded $92,000 by Fulton County Commissioners as part of the Fulton County Community Services Program (CSP) 2017 Funding Program. The organization was chosen and scored based on requirements met in the grant application process, and was evaluated by the CSP Evaluation Committee composed of 33 evaluators, which included 12 internal county staff and 21 external subject matter experts. CIS of Atlanta’s funds will go towards three Fulton County schools, where the CIS program was recently added, including Heritage Elementary, Woodland Middle School, and McNair Middle School.

“It’s all about the students, their needs and making sure they succeed in life,” said CIS of Atlanta’s CEO Frank Brown. “We’re thrilled to see our organization growing and increasing our wrap-around services. We’re currently supporting more than 60 schools and are looking to expand that number.”

Mentoring Works & CIS of Atlanta is Sharing Tips on How You Can Become a Mentor

Find Out How You can Get Involved Beyond National Mentoring Month


ATLANTA – National Mentoring Month just wrapped up and Communities In Schools of Atlanta is giving you a reason to jump in, support kids, become a mentor, and contribute all year long. Having a mentor comes with an abundant amount of benefits, from becoming more empowered to make decisions to gaining practical advice and support. Now is the perfect time to get involved with your community and help our future leaders.

Tri-Cities HS standout athlete found his path to success

Damari started the 2014-2015 school year off like so many ninth grade athletes, believing this was going to be his world. Damari had classes that he found more difficult than he ever experienced before.

He struggled to make good grades in all of his core classes early in the year. As his classroom performance began to decline, even his basketball coach pressed him to be sure he was doing his best. As a result of the added pressure, Damari quit the team he loved so much. Then, a pattern of negative behavior began to show – talking back to teachers, disobeying authority and spending time in in-school suspension while narrowly escaping out-of-school suspension several times.


CIS of Atlanta Site Coordinator La’Vonna Taylor counseled Damari, provided encouragement and constructive feedback, involved his parents, offered incentives and pushed him to try harder. With the added support of his teachers and mother, Damari came to accept the need to straighten out his attitude and give the ones that care about him a chance to reach him where he needed help. Damari humbled himself to apologize for his behavior, began attending tutorials and asked to come back to the team.


His efforts took him from failing four core classes to passing three classes. He continues to show a positive attitude and is more cooperative when called on in class. Another encouragement for Damari is that every improvement makes him eligible for CIS sponsored field trips. Damari ended ninth grade on a positive note and La'Vonna believes he will go through high school as one of the most popular students on campus.


Damari has his mind set on attending the University of Georgia in 2018 to play basketball.

Wells Fargo Atlanta Regional President Mike Donnelly to be honored at 13th Annual Choose Success Awards Dinner

Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta will honor Wells Fargo & Company Atlanta Regional President Mike Donnelly for his significant contributions to education and the community during the 13th annual Choose Success Awards Dinner in April 2017.

CIS of Atlanta will continue its tradition of presenting the Anne Cox Chambers Champion for Kids Award to a philanthropist who has gone above and beyond to support students and the entire community. Next year’s special recipient will be Donnelly, who was named Most Admired CEO in the finance category by the Atlanta Business Chronicle this past year. Donnelly is the senior leader for Wells Fargo in Atlanta, one of the company’s top three markets in total consumer households served.

Wells Fargo Foundation also supports CIS of Atlanta’s programmatic work to close the achievement gap for those students most at risk for dropping out of school. The Foundation has recently approved an additional $50,000 grant for CIS of Atlanta this year!

“At Wells Fargo, our commitment to our communities goes beyond proudly serving customers in our stores," Donnelly said. "Helping families, and the children in those families, have a more stable future is vital to the overall strength of the Atlanta communities where we do business, so I am honored that Communities in Schools of Atlanta considers me, and Wells Fargo, an ally in that important work.”

During the gala, students across Metro Atlanta will also be recognized for their academic improvements and for implementing service projects in their communities.

The Choose Success program enables CIS of Atlanta students in partner schools within Atlanta and Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton counties to identify needs in their communities, apply for small grants, implement their projects and document their results with the support of CIS staff. The Choose Success experience allows students who face various social and economic challenges to be of service to others in need. Young people are able to see that although they face challenges, they are assets to their communities. CIS believes that every child should have opportunities to give back to their peers and their communities.

The program will be held on Tuesday, April 18 at The Georgia Aquarium.

Last year’s sponsors included AT&T, COX Enterprises and HA&W. For sponsorship information for the 2017 event, please contact Director of Development & Communications Zachary Brown at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

About Mike Donnelly:
Donnelly’s previous roles with Wells Fargo include regional president for the Mid-South region, including Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee, retail banking executive, retail banking director, and financial specialist leader. Donnelly received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Radford University in Virginia. An active community leader, Donnelly chairs the Economic Development Committee of the Metro Atlanta Chamber and serves on the chamber’s executive committee and board of directors. Donnelly is Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Atlanta Beltline Partnership and the Wells Fargo Foundation in Atlanta. He is a board member of Teach for America in Atlanta, the Buckhead Coalition, the Woodward Foundation, Woodruff Arts Center Board of Trustees and the Carter Center Board of Councilors. Donnelly also serves as treasurer for Georgia Partnership for Education, and Leadership Atlanta and he is an active member of the Atlanta Rotary Club. In 2016, Donnelly became campaign chair for the United Way of Greater Atlanta’s 2016-2017 capital campaign. Donnelly is married and has three children.

Forest Park HS students are invited to the White House for beating the odds!

Auriana and Amber are both college-bound in the fall - the first in their family to pursue further education after high school! This was no easy feat. Their chances of graduating from Forest Park High School and pursuing post-secondary education was nearly impossible without the support from CIS of Atlanta.

Both students were invited to attend the third annual Beating The Odds summit in Washington, D.C., hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama. As part of the First Lady's Reach Higher initiative and Better Make Room campaign, the event was an opportunity for more than 130 college-bound students from across the country to celebrate their tremendous accomplishments. At this year's summit, the First Lady was joined by YouTube personality Tyler Oakley, who moderated the discussion, as well as a panel with U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, a current college student, and musical artist Jidenna.

AURIANA
Auriana graduated with a 3.8 GPA despite growing up as a homeless student, spending her high school years in an extended stay hotel, and transferring from school-to-school. She graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class. She will attend Howard University in the fall to study business.

AMBER
Amber is the epitome of dedication and perseverance. Due to the lack of focus and hanging around the wrong crowd, Amber had 14 credits – barely enough to be considered a junior. Through a rigorous work regime, Amber made up all lost credits and attained Honor Roll status in the 12th grade. Amber will attend Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the fall to study nursing.

Watch what Auriana has to say about her once-in-a-lifetime experience to the White House!



Check out photos below from their trip to the White House:

Failure was not an option for Westlake HS student

Upon transferring from an Atlanta Public School to Westlake High School, Treshunda had low test scores, numerous failing courses and behavioral referrals for fighting. Even while in a new school setting, Treshunda was tardy for class more than 135 times, her grades continued to drop and her behavior seemed to get worse.


Treshunda was the first student CIS Site Coordinator Dr. Demona Warren interacted with on her first day at work. Demona devised a plan of action to help Treshunda set her goals, establish healthy relationships with her peers and adults, and get back on track academically, with only three months remaining until the end of her ninth-grade school year. Treshunda had already failed three classes first semester and was in danger of failing seven classes in her second semester, in addition to having several in- and out-of-school suspensions.


With support from CIS, Treshunda participated in after-school tutorials, made up missed assignments, had numerous parent-teacher conferences and completed two years of summer school. She continued to check in with Demona throughout the school day, have weekly Chat & Chew sessions, remained active in monthly small group mentoring programs and participated in various incentive programs.

Treshunda also joined the track team and excelled in Track & Field, receiving her first state championship ring in the 2014-2015 school year.

Treshunda had perfect attendance, zero behavioral referrals and passed all of her classes. She stayed dedicated to graduate with her Class of 2016, and she did. She will attend Atlanta Metropolitan State College in the fall to study business.


Videos featured at the 2016 Choose Success event

Individual Student Award Winners

Five students received awards for Individual Student Achievement. The videos below provide an opportunity for you to hear some of their stories in their own words.


Community Service Projects

The service project video provides an overview of some of the outstanding community service projects implemented by our students.


CIS Programs and Impact

Community partners, educators and students talk about the impact CIS of Atlanta has on students, and program results.


George H. Johnson Tribute

This year's Anne Cox Chambers Champion for Kids Award recipient was George H. Johnson, a real estate visionary and philanthropist.


Photo Gallery

COMING SOON...
Photos from the 2016 event are courtesy of Paula M. Gould Photography.

A crowning achievement

It was a dream come true for Kelsy Brown to be crowned Miss Westlake High School, but winning the title was only one of the ambitious teen’s many personal goals.


All A’s and B’s in high school, a high GPA and getting accepted to Albany State University, her favorite historically black college, were also on her wish list. The only obstacle standing in her way to success it turns out would be herself.

Kelsy’s transition from middle school to high school was difficult. She struggled with handling her course load, studying and choosing the right friends. With a low GPA at the end of the first semester in her ninth grade year, Kelsy found support in CIS Site Coordinator Dr. Demona Warren.


“I spent too much time hanging out with my friends and on extracurricular activities instead of my studies. I needed structure and to learn how to balance everything.” What followed was a 15-minute conversation that Kelsy says changed her life forever. “CIS was a big help. They made sure I stayed on track. And they were always there for me.”

Weekly sessions and check-ins with Dr. Warren helped Kelsy learn to manage her time and chart a course for success. She failed geometry in the 10th grade and it bought her GPA down again. In her 11th grade year, Kelsy was not happy with her SAT score and in 12th grade year her ACT score. She elected to retake the exams to improve it, and she did.

With each minor set-back, Kelsy recommitted herself to her studies, worked hard and reminded herself that she could do whatever she put her mind to. She even found time to fulfill another one of her passions — managing the school’s varsity basketball and football teams.

Dr. Warren said, “She’s not the same shy, soft spoken Kelsy that I first met. The confidence she exudes now is wonderful. I am super proud of her and what she has accomplished.”


Now the senior has a 3.2 GPA and will graduate in May. The reigning Miss Westlake was one of the guest speakers at the school’s Senior Baccalaureate Service.

“I’ve overcome a lot,” says the 18 year-old, who wants to become an elementary school teacher before opening her own day care facility. “I’m really proud of myself for what I’ve achieved.”

For the talent portion of the school Miss Westlake pageant, Kelsy performed ‘I Can’t Breathe,’ a spoken word that she co-wrote with her aunt. Her inspiration came from personal experience and witnessing the struggles that so many high school students encounter.

“There were times when I felt I couldn’t breathe and I felt overwhelmed,” she said. “I wanted to speak to all students, to let them know it takes time, but you just have to be strong and you can get through it.”

Fencing In The Schools comes to APS schools

Atlanta Public School students fenced like Olympians during the kick-off of the Fencing In The Schools (FITS) program thanks to a partnership with Communities In Schools of Atlanta, Graduation Generation and FITS.

FITS, a non-profit founded by Olympic Silver Medalist Tim Morehouse, has brought the Olympic sport of fencing to over 15,000 students across the country. The program uses fencing to teach Olympic values and skills through Olympian role models.



Atlanta schools Maynard Jackson High School, King Middle School, D.H. Stanton Elementary and Toomer Elementary welcomed Olympians during assemblies in early March to kick-off the program. Olympians visited schools to share their stories and introduce fencing. The Olympians also conducted professional development for PE teachers.



Funding for the program, including fencing equipment for each school, has been provided by a donation from Rick Rieder, an Emory alumnus/trustee, Managing Director of BlackRock, Inc. and member of the CIS National Leadership Council, along with a grant from Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Sports Matter program.

Check out the FITS program at Maynard Jackson High School featured on People 2 People on WSB-TV:



To watch FITS feature on Vice Sports click here.

Check out photos from the Maynard Jackson High School assembly below:

Dr. Hamilton E. Holmes has portrait dedicated in his honor

CIS of Atlanta at Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School helped organize a ceremony honoring Dr. Hamilton E. Holmes with a portrait dedication.

Ms. Marilyn Holmes was in attendance to give the portrait of her husband to the school on behalf of the University of Georgia. Students shared their knowledge of Dr. Holmes' work and life through poems and songs. Poet Pamela Poole also shared a story of Dr. Holmes' life called "Once Upon a Time."

Dr. Holmes was an American orthopedic physician who was one of the first African-Americans to attend the University of Georgia. The Atlanta native was also the first African-American to attend Emory University School of Medicine, where he earned his M.D. He has several landmarks named in his honor, including Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School, Hamilton E. Holmes Drive (Highway 280) in Fulton County; and the H.E. Holmes MARTA station in Atlanta. At the time of his death in 1995, Dr. Holmes was an orthopedic surgeon in Atlanta, associate dean and a member of the faculty of the Emory University School of Medicine and chairman of the orthopedic unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

The elementary school also celebrated the kick off of Men's Mentor Monday by distinguishing male mentors from the Atlanta community with a certificate. Men's Mentor Mondays will continue the fourth Monday of the month.

Check out photos from the event below:

D.H. Stanton ES shares importance of parental involvement

D.H. Stanton Elementary School hosted Muffins for Moms and Donuts for Dads events to bring together fathers and mothers of students.

The purpose of the event was to provide parents support, words of encouragement and to share ways they can participate in their child's life and the impact of parental involvement.

Among those in attendance included the principal, assistant principal, counselor, parent liaison, and representatives from Safe Routes to School, Families First and Emory University.

Check out photos from the events below:

Donuts for Dads



Muffins for Moms

Contact Us

  • 260 Peachtree Street, Suite 750
    Atlanta, GA 30303

    404-897-2390
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