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Communities In Schools is Forming a Premier Cohort in Six School Districts Across the Country Fueled by $10 Million in Funding

By Communities In Schools | Aug. 15, 2023

Contact: Jack Hardy, [email protected], 703-518-2578

Communities In Schools® (CIS®) announces the formation of a premier learning cohort of peer institutions in six school districts across the country. This learning cohort will provide access and opportunity for more than 20,000 students. The cohort is being funded by an investment of $10 million from The Studio @ Blue Meridian; this investment will provide funding to these six school districts to expand into 15 schools, training and technical assistance from CIS national and a third-party evaluation.  

The effort will demonstrate how school districts using the CIS evidence-based model of integrated student supports (ISS) can meet students’ needs on an ongoing basis to improve high school graduation rates and, ultimately, economic mobility.  Learning Cohort members include Madison Metropolitan School District in Madison, Wisconsin; Santa Ana Unified School District in Santa Ana, California; Jackson Public Schools, in Jackson, Mississippi; Montgomery Public Schools in Montgomery Alabama; Little Rock School District in Little Rock, Arkansas and Newark Board of Education in Newark, New Jersey.  

The CIS methodology is based on decades of research that supports the implementation of student aids to help them navigate nonacademic challenges they face from poverty, racism and physical or mental health concerns. These challenges often derail students' aspirations, it is through the actions of a caring adult who provides intervention and other support that helps lift them up and steer them back on course. In practice, these student supports services may include providing a meal, clean clothes, prescription eyeglasses, job and career counseling, tutors, student mentors and more.   

“Our approach is designed to ensure that every student across the network has the support of a site coordinator, committed to building relationships with students and their families and connecting them to the resources and supports they need to bridge from barrier to opportunity and help them achieve in life,” said Rey Saldaña, national president and CEO of Communities In Schools.

The CIS National Office began piloting licensed partnerships five years ago with state departments of education, local education agencies, and non-profit organizations across the country. CIS licensed partners implement the same model as CIS affiliates. However, through a licensed partnership, education agencies in states not currently served by a CIS affiliate can partner directly with the CIS National Office to become licensed to train school personnel to deliver the CIS model with education agency oversight and management. 

“Through the expansion of its Licensed Partner Strategy, CIS will positively impact over 20,000 students in six states,” said Lizz Pawlson, managing director and portfolio lead at Blue Meridian Partners. “The Studio @ Blue Meridian is proud to invest in and support CIS in its mission to measurably improve graduation rates and family engagement for positive social impact across the country.” 

About Communities In Schools   
Communities In Schools® (CIS®) is a national organization that ensures every student, regardless of race, zip code, or socioeconomic background, has what they need to realize their potential in school and beyond. Working directly inside over 3,000 schools across the country, we connect students to caring adults and community resources that help them see, confront, and overcome the barriers that stand between them and a brighter future. Together, we build a powerful change movement made up of peers, students, and alumni committed to building an equitable path to education for future generations. For more than four decades, Communities In Schools has demonstrated measurable success in creating equitable outcomes for schools and students of color and students that live in impoverished communities. During the 2021-2022 school year, 99.5 percent of students enrolled in CIS programs remained in school through the end of the school year, with 96.8 percent of K-11 students being promoted to the next grade and 95.5 percent of seniors graduating or receiving a GED.     

About Blue Meridian Partners 

Blue Meridian Partners is a pioneering philanthropic model for finding and funding scalable solutions to problems that limit economic and social mobility for America’s young people and families in poverty. We know solutions exist, but even the most promising strategies cannot reach far enough, fast enough without significant, long-term investment. In order to meet the scale of the problem, we provide transformative capital paired with capacity-building support and strategic advice, empowering visionary leaders to dream bigger and vastly expand their impact, influence, and reach. With an investor mindset, we support strategies that address challenges from cradle to career, working both nationwide and within specific communities. We recognize that economic mobility is inextricably tied to racial equity. Therefore, we make investments that tackle systemic inequities that both hinder opportunity for Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people and other communities of color and limit the flow of capital to social sector leaders of color. Our partnership of leading philanthropists pool resources to invest more efficiently and effectively than any single funder could alone. Ultimately, Blue Meridian’s goal is to transform the philanthropic marketplace in order to improve the life trajectories of millions of young people and families across America. 

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