Thanks to all of you who had a role in birthing us, funding us, nurturing us, working for us, partnering with us, and volunteering for us.
Twenty-one years ago today marked the founding of the New Orleans affiliate of Communities In Schools. The organizing efforts were led by well-known community activists Margaret Wall, Claire Stahel and Frankie Wittenburg to bring the nationally known organization to New Orleans almost a decade after initial work was begun under the name Cities In Schools. Incorporators Margaret Wall, Elsie Rose and Shannon Parker filed the papers with the Secretary of State, listing 17 community leaders as board members and another 12 leaders as advisory board members. Thus began the journey of connecting students to resources they needed to be successful, including those which the Orleans Parish School Board could not otherwise tap. Initial programming began at Sarah T. Reed High school as CIS and the US Department of Defense brought more than $400,000 to New Orleans to establish career academies and integrate them with JR ROTC.
CIS of Greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge currently provides integrated students supports through five program areas to 6000 students in 18 schools in New Orleans and one in Baton Rouge. The variety of supports ranges from supplying food, clothing, school supplies and books to intensive case management and crisis intervention. Mentoring, after-school programming, and AmeriCorps members compliment the core case management work that CIS Site Coordinators and Behavior Specialists do.
The CIS team is now 75+ strong. Today, 32 of the CIS staff and AmeriCorps members who are skilled in counseling/social work are providing the comprehensive interventions for the entire student body and staff at ReNEW Schaumburg as school reopens a week after the tornado strike. Just 11 years ago, only one person was on the CIS payroll.
Save the date— on the evening of April 27th, the night before our community’s beloved Jazz Fest opens, we will gather at the home of Gary and Martha Solomon to raise a birthday toast, celebrate the young people whose paths to the future have been molded by CIS, and share the vision for the work that can be done, needs to be done, and should be done by those of us who see the payoff of surrounding students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.