CIS executive director praises education pioneer

CIS of Atlanta Executive Director Frank Brown, Esq., spoke to those present at a Atlanta City Council June meeting to praise Dr. Dorothy Yancy for the impact she made in his life and her accomplishments in education.

Dr. Yancy received a proclamation from the Atlanta City Council to distinguish her as a pioneer in education and for being such a positive force in the southeast.

A native of Alabama, Yancy is the 14th and 16th president of Shaw University. She was the 12th president of Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), and the first female to hold each of these prestigious titles.

As senior class president of Brown's fourth year at JCSU, Yancy was instrumental in helping Brown obtain his first internship with Congress Mel Watt. Also due to financial hardships during Brown's senior year, Yancy provided financial support for his law school applications, which ended up sparking his interest and career in politics.

Yancy currently sits on CIS of Atlanta's Board of Directors.

Click here to see a news clip from the ceremony on WSB-TV.

Check out photos from the city council meeting:

Tri-Cities High School students bridge the gap over the summer

Officer Miles Nicholson of the Atlanta Police Department spoke to more than 40 Tri-Cities High School ninth-grade students about dealing with figures of authority, how to talk to police and consequences of negative behavior.

Officer Nicholson was last week's featured guest speaker as part of the Summer Bridge program. With the theme of "Hunger Games," the program encourages students to support and motivate their peers.

Using a variety of differentiated instruction, students participated in academic competitions, scavenger hunts, social skills games and team-building activities while reading the novel "Hunger Games." Guest speakers were invited each week to provide students with a motivational experience. The Summer Bridge program concluded with a field trip to Pin Strikes Entertainment Center for team-building activities and a recognition ceremony.

CIS of Atlanta hosted the Summer Bridge program at Tri-Cities, along with other partner schools within DeKalb and Fulton county public school systems. The Summer Bridge program allows incoming ninth-graders to engage in learning activities focused around the subjects of math and reading to help them retain knowledge over the summer. CIS staff integrate a variety of creative activities to promote and enhance the team building experience.

Students are provided with a free, nutritious breakfast and lunch each day of the program.

Check out the video of Tri-Cities students during the Summer Bridge program:

Spark a child's imagination by shopping at Macy's

CIS of Atlanta is partnering with RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) for the 2015 Macy's Be Book Smart campaign to support children's literacy. The campaign kicked off Sunday, June 21 and concludes Sunday, July 12.

Macy's customers can give $3 at their local store and receive $10 off a purchase of $30 or more. Macy's will donate 100 percent of every $3 donation to RIF to go towards providing free books to children in need across the country, including CIS partner schools in metro Atlanta!

Now in its 12th year, the Be Book Smart campaign has raised more than $30 million and provided over 10 million books to kids! Help RIF bring the joy of reading to more children this summer.

There are two ways to donate: You can visit one of the following Macy's stores:

  • Gallery At South Dekalb
  • Greenbriar Mall
  • Lenox Square
  • Perimeter Mall
  • North Dekalb Mall
  • Northlake Mall
  • Cumberland Mall

  • Or, if you can't make it to a store, you can donate online, and we'll visit Macy's and Be Book Smart on your behalf!

    To learn more about CIS of Atlanta's RIF programs, and to see a video clip of some of our activities, click here.

    For more information about Be Book Smart, click here.

    Check out CBS46 News featuring CIS of Atlanta Partnerships Manager Dionne Butler discussing the organization's partnership with RIF:

    CBS46 News

    Cedar Grove students give back to homeless women, children

    CIS of Atlanta students at Cedar Grove High School collected items to create "love baskets" for the homeless women and children of My Sister's House Atlanta and Beloved Atlanta as part of this year's Choose Success service learning project.

    The baskets were filled with handwritten cards, handmade quilts, books, food and personal items and were delivered to the shelters.

    The Choose Success experience allows CIS students who face various social and economic challenges to serve others in need.

    The 11th annual Choose Success Awards Dinner will be held on Thursday, April 30 at The Commerce Club, located at 190 Peachtree Street. The ceremony will honor students for their achievements and BlackRock Chief Investment Officer Rick Rieder with the Anne Cox Chambers Champion for Kids Award. Fred Blankenship of WSB-TV will emcee the program.

    Check out what CIS students had to say about their selfless giving in The DeKalb Champion!

    CIS students at Westlake High School dress to impress potential employers

    Communities In Schools of Atlanta and Work-Based Learning collaborated to host a job and career fair at Westlake High School in early March.

    CIS of Atlanta students dressed professionally to hand out their resumes to potential employers.

    The following organizations were just a few that were in attendance:

    Six Flags
    Benchmark Physical Therapists
    Pain 2 Wellness Center
    Union City Fire Department
    Southwest Veterinary Clinic
    South Fulton Pet Care & Grooming
    U.S. Marine Corps
    Country Financial Insurance

    Check out photos from the event below:

    CIS co-hosts community health fair for area families

    Communities In Schools of Atlanta and AMERIGROUP collaborated to present a community health fair for families at Cross Keys High School on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2015.

    Students and families from the community stopped by to learn important health care information, receive health screenings and enjoy refreshments.

    The following organizations participated in the health fair:

    Catholic Charities Atlanta
    Pregnancy Resources of Doraville
    Latin American Association
    St. Joseph Northeast Plaza
    Consultorio Medico Hispano
    Feminist Women Health Center
    Lifting Latina Voices Initative
    International Maternity Center-Cima Clinics
    Cominar Latino
    Diabetes Association
    UGA-Cooperative Extension DeKalb County
    Northside Hospital Cancer Institute
    Ventanillas de Salud
    Amerigroup Community Care
    Georgia State University Memory Lab
    Sam's Club
    AV Dental
    Centro Hispano de Excelencia Finaciera

    See the article published in The DeKalb Champion newspaper.

    Check out photos from the event below:

    Clarkston High School students uplifted, empowered to say "My Black is Beautiful"

    CIS of Atlanta female students at Clarkston High School were inspired during the My Black Is Beautiful (MBIB) "Sisterhood Symposium" on Friday, Feb. 7.

    This year's program featured a dynamic panel highlighted by Rashan Ali, radio and television personality, and sports reporter. She was joined by Janelle Baranco, COO of Baranco Motor Company; Monique Johnson, community relations specialist and philanthropist; and Aiyisha Obafemi, COO of Disturbing the Peace Records.

    Two students from Project Connect volunteered to host, facilitate and moderate the discussion around confidence, self-esteem, image, beauty, worth and value.

    Students also watched the "Imagine A Future" documentary, which examines beauty and self-esteem issues that challenge black women and girls. The documentary deputed first nationally on BET.

    MBIB is an extraordinary initiative of Procter & Gamble that celebrates the diverse collective beauty of African-American women and encourages black women to define and promote their own beauty standard. MBIB is designed to ignite and support a sustained national conversation by, for and about black women.

    Students who attended MBIB were provided with P&G health and beauty products created for women of color, including shampoo, conditioner, hair color, hair mask, lip gloss, tissue and a MBIB cosmetic bag.

    The event concluded with a special seated lunch for the panel served by students in the Culinary Arts Department.

    Check out photos from the event below:

    King Middle School students honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with day of service

    CIS of Atlanta students at King Middle School highlighted the impact of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s vision at the Budd Terrace Nursing Home on Jan. 15 in honor of MLK Day.

    Students held up signs as part of their commemorative performance of "Modern Day, I Have A Dream" skit for the residents as a way to celebrate the life and achievements of the American civil rights leader.

    The spirits of the residents were uplifted as they sang along with students to influential songs about hope and faith.

    Check out photos from the event below:

    Catching Students Before They Fall

    Communities In Schools of Atlanta announced on Friday, Jan. 23 that Dr. Demona Warren has been named a 2015 Unsung Heroes Awards winner. Warren was recognized for outstanding work in helping students overcome obstacles to succeed in school and achieve in life.

    “I am truly honored, humbled and grateful to be receiving this award,” said Warren. “This award is shared by all of us at CIS of Atlanta for the hard work and dedication to meeting students’ needs.”

    Warren is one of five site coordinators honored by the national Communities In Schools’ network as best in class for their dedication to doing whatever it takes to keep kids in school. Read about how she was "created to do this!"

    “At Communities In Schools, Unsung Hero is synonymous with dedication and commitment to serving students,” said Gary Chapman, executive vice president, Communities In Schools. “All of our site coordinators are inspiring and are true examples of going the extra mile and being the difference to a student’s success and in their lives. We’re thrilled to recognize their exceptional work.”

    The Unsung Heroes Awards were created in 2007 to give national recognition to local schools, communities and Communities In Schools’ site coordinators for changing the picture of education in America. Communities In Schools’ Unsung Heroes are keeping kids in school, doing whatever it takes to eliminate barriers and never giving up, on anyone.

    The 2015 honorees were recognized at the Communities In Schools’ Leadership Town Hall, held in New Orleans, La., on Thursday, Jan. 22.

    The complete list of 2015 honorees, with links to videos and full profiles of each, can be found here.

    West End Academy celebrates seniors for accomplishments

    West End Academy Performance Learning Center held a special celebration for seniors on Dec. 20 to spotlight the achievements of students and their dedication of attaining their academic goals.

    The program included guest speakers Paul Bryant, 13 Content Company and the Leadership Institute; Frank Brown, Esq., executive director of CIS of Atlanta; and David Jernigan, deputy superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools (APS), whom spoke on behalf of Dr. Meria Carstarphen, superintendent of APS. Project Administrator of Project GRAD Isaac Sparks represented Timothy Gadson, associate superintendent of APS.

    West End Principal Dr. Evelyn Mobley provided words of wisdom before students rejoiced after receiving their diplomas in the presence of proud family and friends.

    The fall 2014 class includes 29 seniors, of which 11 were accepted into Arkansas Baptist College. Students boarded a bus on Sunday, Jan. 11 and bid farewell to their parents and families as they were prepared to pursue their career goals at Arkansas Baptist. The opportunity to enroll at Arkansas Baptist was made possible by Atlanta Public School Board Member Dr. Steven Lee (District 5).

    Check out photos from the West End senior celebration below:

    Westlake H.S. student, site coordinator share emotional journey on 11Alive

    Leala recalls her first day of school as a six-year old.

    "I experienced a feeling that I was different because of my mixed race. The stares, the insults and the way people treated me in general, gave me the sense that people did not like me."

    At a young age, Leala's family was ripped apart by abandonment and divorce. After relocation and her father's eventual remarriage, Leala found herself suffering from the harsh combination of neglect and abuse.

    "My hair was hardly cared for, my bathing habits were bad, and my clothing was dingy, dirty and either too big or too small," she said.

    Her physical appearance led to embarrassment, constant bullying and horribly low self-esteem.

    Then in the ninth grade, Westlake High School CIS Site Coordinator Dr. Demona Warren came into Leala's life, provided her with one-on-one mentoring and embraced Leala with motherly love.

    "Dr. Warren was like a net catching me and breaking my downward spiral," Leala said. "She's been the mother-figure I desperately needed. She's provided security and she's helped rebuild my confidence."

    Leala was a candidate for Governor's Honors, selected for National Honors Society and was featured on 11Alive's morning show ATL&Co in November to share her story.

    Read what Leala says below about the impact Dr. Warren and CIS of Atlanta has made in her life:

    "What does is mean to live? I never knew until after 14 years of being ALIVE. Passively going through life unaware of what actions really meant. Unaware of what normal really looked like, and most of all, what would be predestined for my future?

    Caramel. Cookies n’ Cream. Domino. Half-baked. Zebra. Skunk. Mulatto - I've heard it all from my first memory to now. I didn't know what it meant to be called mulatto as a young girl. I was born in North Carolina, a baby - naive and innocent - knowing no right or wrong only that I’m seeing light for the first time. However, before I was even conceived, my life was predicted. I will go through unlikely struggles to be part of something so massive it would take said struggles to get there.

    Starting school in the south, I experienced ethnic dilemmas in school and in public even when I was too young to know what they meant. I was happy though because I remained in my father’s unhealthy bubble, he made the insults good by calling me these things himself so I believed they were compliments and I smiled. It wasn't until the divorce of my parents and being in the dark that I discovered their true meanings.

    My mother left my father without telling me where she was going and only taking her two boys. She left the youngest three and I with my father, which became too much for him alone so we abandoned that home to move to New York with his parents. At this time I was six going on seven. I still was ignorant under my father’s wing and knew nothing about life. I misbehaved often and I was very headstrong. At this time, I was in kindergarten - devastated and confused that my parents weren't together and even more upset of their new partners.

    Upon living with my father and stepmother, I faced neglect and abuse, which only deteriorated my mindset even more. I did my best to remain a bright uplifting person, but this became a complicated task as time proceeded.

    I went to school with low levels of confidence due to my physical appearance and embarrassment of still wetting the bed. My hair was hardly cared for, my bathing habits were not supervised nor enforced, and the clothing I wore was dingy, dirty and either too big or too small. If my appearance and stench wasn't enough to abate my chances of a friend, I was socially awkward. I never said the right things and when I finally thought I had a friend, I was only teased.

    Bus rides home in elementary school dismayed me. The kids would throw papers at me, pull my nappy hair, call me out of my name, and dump out my book bag. Tearfully, I would pick my things up and carry on as though this were a permanent part of my agenda.

    In middle school, things began to improve. I made my first real friend and I started taking some control of my health. By eighth grade I had taken control of as much of my life as I could, but I couldn't get past the scars of the past, so I also held myself back. Then I meet Dr. Warren.

    Immediately when we met we connected. The moment she took my hand in hers then pulled me in for a hug- it changed me. Dr. Warren provided the abyss of love that I had missed out on all those years - the proper attention and care I sought through my life.

    Dear Dr. Warren has been the net to catch me in my downward spiral, the steady ground to keep me up right and most of all, the mother-figure I desperately needed. She’s provided security and tools necessary for me to succeed in school and in life."

    H.E. Holmes students receive free books through RIF

    Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School students received free books through a RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) event sponsored by Communities In Schools of Atlanta on Monday, Dec. 15.

    Every student within the school was provided the opportunity to select their own reading book to add to their personal home library, and strengthen their enjoyment of learning.Howard University alumni partnered as CIS of Atlanta volunteers to help distribute books throughout the school and aid students in decorating bookmarks.

    Students also received snacks and watched the movie "Frozen."

    Check out photos from the event below:

    Breakfast Chat & Chew highlights effective CIS strategies to support Clayton County students

    Communities In Schools of Atlanta hosted a Breakfast Chat & Chew event Wednesday, Dec. 17 to allow Clayton County school leaders, teachers, students, parents and partners to discuss successful strategies that may benefit the county schools and communities.

    Held at Elite Scholars Academy, the breakfast was co-hosted by State Rep. Mike Glanton (D-75), State Rep. Valencia Stovall (D-74), and Clayton County School Board Member Jessie Goree (D-3).

    Elite Scholars Academy Principal Dr. Shonda Shaw and State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-39) welcomed the group of more than 30 Clayton County stakeholders and CIS of Atlanta staff. CIS of Atlanta Executive Director Frank Brown, Esq., explained the resources and community partnerships needed in order to aid students toward high school graduation.

    A video was also shown, in which students share their personal stories of triumph made possible through the support of CIS of Atlanta.

    As the group enjoyed a hot breakfast catered by Beverly’s Catering Services, a panel of CIS of Atlanta site coordinators and school personnel expressed the importance of the organization’s role within the lives of students and families. The panel included Towers High School CIS Site Coordinator Derec Oby, DeKalb County Area Superintendent Dr. Ralph Simpson, Clarkson High School Ninth Grade Assistant Principal Eric Robinson, Clarkson Counselor Ricki Hawkins, Clarkston CIS Site Coordinator Calleb Obumba, Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary School RTI Specialist Princess Pelzer and Hamilton E. Holmes Elementary CIS Site Coordinator Dedra Cochran.

    Among the several elected officials, educators and community leaders in attendance were Jonesboro Mayor Joy Day, Clayton County Chairman Jeffrey Turner, Clayton County Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Yulonda Beauford, Clayton State University President Dr. Tim Hynes, Atlanta Technical College President Dr. Alvetta Thomas and United Christian Fellowship Senior Pastor Ernest Childs.

    Check out the article featured in Clayton News Daily.

    See photos from the event below:

    Donation of athletic wear allows students to stand tall, focus on learning

    Communities In Schools of Atlanta is able to provide students in need with new athletic wear due to the support of an anonymous donor.

    CIS of Atlanta students face a wide range of struggles every day, including poverty, neglect, homelessness and violence. How can students remain optimistic about their futures when they feel like their personal hardships are impossible to overcome?

    Coming to school with tattered sneakers and T-shirts in the winter adds to the physical and emotional obstacles our students face. Thanks to the donations of CIS advocates, support of school staff and the CIS model, students are able to learn in the classroom, and teachers are free to teach.

    “Some of these kids have never had a pair of brand new shoes,” said Dr. Demona Warren, CIS site coordinator at Westlake High School. “Donations are greatly needed because the kids we serve aren't the ones who live in million-dollar homes. During the holidays we receive referrals from families who simply want one clothing item so that they can give something to their child on Christmas.”

    CIS site coordinators are also providing the donation of athletic shoes, socks and clothes as an incentive for caseload students who make improvements in their behavior, attendance and/or academics.

    “The donation of shoes means a lot to our students because they don’t have a lot of things,” Warren said. “[Students] are working hard toward getting great grades because they know they have a chance to receive these premier incentives.”

    It takes a whole community to help kids achieve in school. YOU can also help change the picture of education for students in metro Atlanta by donating your time, money and resources.

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