CIS of Atlanta Contributes to Major Gains in Metro Atlanta Schools

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.

Healing Hearts Widows Support Foundation of Nigeria Visits CIS of Atlanta

Last Friday, CIS of Atlanta’s CEO Frank Brown had the privilege of meeting with Ms. Gozie Udemezue, an alumni of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). The IVLP, run by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, brings nearly 5,000 exchange participants to the U.S. every year with the goal of strengthening ties between the U.S. and other countries and generating relationships between foreign leaders and their American equivalents. Ms. Udemezue was selected as one of six IVLP alumni to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program’s Gold Stars’ Tour: Alumni Connecting the World.



Ms. Udemezue, lawyer, human rights activist, and soup cook, is an inspiration to say the least. As the founder of Healing Hearts Widows Support Foundation (HHWSF), she helps widows who are neglected, shunned by society, and stripped of basic human rights after their husbands pass away. She also cooks and sells Igbo soups. “The widows help to cook and the children serve,” Ms. Udemezue says. Since she was a mere eight years old, Ms. Udemezue has been caring for widows and has never understood the harsh way they are treated in their culture. She established her foundation in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2013 when she lost her own husband that she experienced the true pain and suffering of widowhood. Ms. Udemezue now dedicates her life to HHWSF, which provides free medical aid, free legal aid and spiritual counseling to widows. However, she still faces many challenges. “The biggest challenge we have is [lack of] resources,” she says. “We need a shelter.” Widows and their children often are forced to vacate their homes. In addition, Ms. Udemezue wishes to purchase project vehicles to transport them to and from outreach centers, train widows who have gone through the program to be paralegals who are capable of helping other widows, and find an effective way to help the children, who often have to drop out of school to provide for their widowed mothers.



Throughout their discussion, Frank Brown and Ms. Udemezue were able to brainstorm an abundance of ideas and inspire each other through their steadfast dedication and passion for their work. “Impact, revenue, and strategic partnerships” are the key to creating a self-sustaining organization, says Frank Brown. He asked Ms. Udemezue to consider what she wants her organization to look like in five or even 25 years, when she’s unable to run it “because all of her work means nothing if it’s not around in the next five years.” The two discussed how they were capable in their individual roles because they identified with the people they are fighting for. Just as Ms. Udemezue has struggled with widowhood, Brown suffered with his own battles growing up, allowing him relate to the children he spends his life helping. He reassured Ms. Udemezue that because she had experienced the tragedy of losing one’s spouse, her determination and connection to the widows who go through her program is beautifully strong and resilient.

“I think in America we take things for granted,” Frank said in awe of Ms. Udemezue’s commitment to her work. “For you to come in and tell me you made something out of nothing, I can look at my team and say there is no excuse.”

At the end of the meeting Ms. Udemezue said, “This was my last appointment on this trip, and it was like saving the best for last. I am proud to say it was the most impactful. It didn’t just address the work I do, it provided an opening for me to share some personal challenges and Frank’s words of encouragement provided the spring board I needed to take off, again.”

CIS of Atlanta is truly moved by and eager to witness the impact Ms. Udemezue has in her own community, and we’re more than thrilled to help make an impact on a global scale.

Help us Win a $25,000 Grant and Assist Atlanta!



As one of the 200 finalists in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist program, Communities In Schools of Atlanta (CIS of Atlanta) has the incredible opportunity to win a $25,000 grant to fund our dropout prevention program and help underprivileged youth grow into a successful, well-educated future of Atlanta. However, we cannot win without your help. By clicking here and voting for CIS, you are helping our community get the support it needs.

CIS of Atlanta’s project is to strengthen Westside Schools, specifically those in the Washington cluster. We will host literacy events in an effort to create a mentor and volunteer program that will impact thousands of children and families.

While our organization has made a huge, self-sustaining impact on the city of Atlanta, there are still so many ways we can improve and build our community, which is why we are asking for your help! The voting phase is open from August 16 – 25, and anyone with a valid email address is eligible to vote up to 10 times per day. The top 40 winners that receive the most votes will be announced on September 28.

State Farm Neighborhood Assist is a crowd-sourced philanthropic initiative that lets communities determine where grant funding is awarded. The initiative utilizes the State Farm Review Committee to vet submissions for causes and empowers the community to vote for the final 40 grant winners. The program has been inspired by the incredible number of neighborhoods that are coming together to solve a problem or improve their community.

Please share this with your colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family!




VOTE FOR CIS OF ATLANTA



Student Success Story: A Future in the Sky

Determined to leave his mistakes in the past, Emanuel is now a high school graduate with hopes of attending the Aviation Institute of Maintenance at Gwinnett Technical College.

Graduating high school may seem like a rite of passage for most, but for Emanuel Giliam it was just out of reach as mistakes from his past caused him to fall behind in school, “I was facing probation for two years for burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, unruly child, and shoplifting. Also, I was responsible for three Credit Recovery classes.”

With peers pushing for him to turn his life around, Emanuel found himself asking for help from Mr. Avery, the CIS site coordinator at his school. Having previously crossed paths, Mr. Avery already knew very well that Emanuel would have to make a change if he wanted to improve his academics and graduate. Providing necessary school supplies and access to computers was a vital part of the help Emanuel needed to keep up with his school work, Mr. Avery made sure he had just that.

“After possibly facing years of prison for some things he had done in his past, Emanuel changed everything around. He realized he did not want to be a statistic and something had to change.”

Today Emanuel has graduated and is motivated by his newfound ambition, hoping to show those around him how he found his way and continue his success by pursuing his interests in mechanics. He recently toured Delta Airline Tech Ops, and now has his next goal in place: Attending the Aviation Institute of Maintenance at Gwinnett Technical College, where upon completion he hopes to have the chance to step into a cockpit himself.

“Mr. Avery helped me stay focused, also helped me see the bigger picture and strive to become something in life. Made me realize there are people that actually want to see you amount to something.”

Student Success 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.

Contact Us

  • 260 Peachtree Street, Suite 750
    Atlanta, GA 30303

    404-897-2390
  • Write to us.
    info@cisatlanta.org
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