Empowering Overage Students to Succeed: Timothy’s Story

A recent article on NOLA.com discussed overage students in New Orleans high schools. According the the article: “The proportion of overage students — those who have been retained for at least one grade — hovers around 40 percent for New Orleans high school students, according to an analysis of 2014 data by researchers at Education Research Alliance for New Orleans, which is based at Tulane University. Forty-six percent of twelfth-graders were at least one year older than their peers.” (See the full text here: http://www.nola.com/education/index.ssf/2018/01/overage_students_new_orleans_e.html)

At Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans, we work with students who are overage and empower then to stay in school (or return to school after stopping-out) and complete their high school education. One such student is Timothy.*

Timothy was only making it to school 1 day a week. At 18 years old and still in the 9th grade, school wasn’t his priority because it couldn’t be. Timothy joined a gang at just 11 years old because his family needed money, and he was too young to get any type of legal employment. Timothy has witnessed more violent crimes at a young age than most adults will in their lifetime.

Things started to change for Timothy when he met Christine, the Communities In Schools (CIS) Site Coordinator at his high school. It took over 6 months for Christine to gain Timothy’s trust, but once she did, she was able to counsel him and help him make sense of the chaos around him. Timothy is trying to “get out of the game,” and is looking for lawful work. He has also progressed in school.

Timothy is finding stability and succeeding in school. He attends school at least 4 days a week, a dramatic improvement in his attendance. Timothy says that Christine is one of the reasons he comes to school more regularly, because he knows she’ll be looking for him. The relationship between Timothy and Christine shows that by providing students with a consistent one-on-one relationship with a caring adult, CIS creates a safe place for them to learn and grow.

*Student is using a pseudonym for confidentiality.

CIS Students are meeting or making progress toward their behavior goals.



CIS Gets Results!

Communities In Schools gets results. According to the CIS national office, the students we serve in New Orleans are meeting or making progress toward their goals in attendance, behavior, learning, and preparation for life after high school graduation. You can help more students reach their goals with your gift to CIS of Greater New Orleans between now and December 31Donate here. 
CIS Gets Results!

Be a Part of #GivingTuesday! A Global Day of Giving.

Black Friday, Cyber Monday … and TOMORROW is #GivingTuesday.
#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. We want to invite you to support Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans on Giving Tuesday. You make a difference in the lives of students when you give. In 2015 – 2016 your generosity helped CIS students to stay in school (97%), and graduate or get promoted to the next grade (84%). In Greater New Orleans CIS case managed 1,237 students last year.
Image of an adult and a student celebrating success.
CIS is in schools to help kids stay in school.

2017 All In For Students National Impact Report

AllinForKids, At Risk Youth, CIS New Orleans, Communities in Schools, New Orleans Public Schools, Counseling, nonprofit, Volunteer ProgramsYoung people of all backgrounds and abilities thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they have a sense of belonging to a caring community. That’s exactly what Communities In Schools (CIS) provides IN SCHOOLS, every day.  We harness available resources in communities, and match them with each student’s needs to help them overcome the academic and non-academic barriers to achievement.

CIS has a presence in 25 states and the District of Columbia. Last school year, we served 1.48 million students, working in 2,300 schools and 364 school districts throughout the country.

The 2017 All In For Students National Impact Report outlines the national accomplishments of Communities In Schools during the 2015-2016 school year. It includes data on students who were promoted from one grade to another, graduated from high school or otherwise improved their performance. It also includes projections for how CIS is serving more students in the current school year.

When we’re in schools, the impact is great. In the coming weeks we will tell you more about how Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans and Baton Rouge makes a difference in the lives of CIS students by going #AllinforKids.

FirstLine Network Partner Award

AllinForKids, Americorps, At Risk Youth, Behavioral Health, CIS New Orleans, Communities in Schools, Counseling, FirstLine Schools, Joseph Clark Preparatory High School, Langston Hughes Academy, Network partner Award, New Orleans Public Schools, nonprofit, Phillis Wheatley Community School, Site Coordinator, Volunteer Programs
FirstLine Schools CEO Jay Altman presents the Network Partner Award to Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans


We’d like to share our Thankful Thursday post with our good friends at FirstLine Schools, which honored Communities In Schools two weeks ago with their Network Partner Award. At the assembly, we cheered with the staff of both Joseph Clark Preparatory High School and Phillis Wheatley Community School, celebrating the teamwork of our CIS Site Coordinators Eliza and Max and Behavioral Health Counselor Brittney, our CIS AmeriCorps members and our leadership team. We’ve also brought the Jazz for Young People program to Langston Hughes Academy. We were humbled to be called last week to offer leadership and support in the crisis response at Samuel J Green Charter, as the school community mourned the death of two Green students and their mother and the injuries to their sister. If you would like to support this family, please visit https://donate.firstlineschools.org/smithfamily


Red Stick Moms Blog Easter Egg Hunt – Making Writing Egg-citing!

CIS is excited to participate in the 2017 Red Stick Moms Blog Easter Egg Hunt! We’re continuing our partnership with RSMB as the Charity of Choice for their event, and are collecting pencils to help stock schools in need. Guests are encouraged to bring donations, exclusively pencils, and enjoy the day of kid-friendly fun!

RSMB Red Stick Mom's Blog Egg Hunt 2017

From the RSMB site,

“Founded in August 2013 by a native Baton Rouge mom, Red Stick Moms Blog {RSMB} has quickly become one of the city’s premier resources focused on parenting in Baton Rouge. A team of 25 moms and social media influencers, we are extremely passionate about connecting local moms to products, practical information, and resources that will make their lives easier. We publish content 5+ days a week and regularly plan events and playdates in the greater metropolitan area, offering in person marketing opportunities for your business. In the Red Stick Moms Blog community, you’ll find relevant, timely and fun information and discover a positive parenting community.”

CIS is happy to partner with RSMB again; during their 2016 Halloween event, participants contributed thousands of dollars in flood relief supplies to the CIS Louisiana Relief Fund, aiding students effected by the historic flooding in Baton Rouge this past August.

We’re “egg-cited” to collect donations of pencils, and join in all the fun – and we hope to see you at the Egg Hunt next weekend!

AmeriCorps’ Rewarding Work Inside the Classroom

Members of the CIS AmeriCorps program provide support to the students they work with everyday. The importance and impact of their work is best understood when it comes from the source – the members themselves, and their students.

Donna, a graduate student at Xavier University, is a CIS AmeriCorps member working with students in an alternative high school, a setting that favors students who don’t excel in a traditional high school setting. “My background is mental health, and I want to help bridge the gap between high school and college,” she explains. “AmeriCorps is perfect for that, working inside the schools to provide hands-on guidance.”

Her volunteerism has been inspirational, for both her and her students. On graduation day of Donna’s first semester as an AmeriCorps member, one student told her how happy she was that Donna came to her school. “She was closed off and didn’t have anybody to talk to before me. But that semester she built a relationship with her mom, her grades increased, and she found a job as well.” Donna says. “Her acknowledgement of my presence in her graduation and success made me feel like I was doing something right.”

Donna plans to continue with her mental health studies, and looks forward to continued work inside the classroom – making a difference in students’ lives as she does with the CIS AmeriCorps program. In the meantime, she is looking forward to the spring graduation ceremony and cheering on the students she is helping this semester.

Addressing Student Needs with the CIS AmeriCorps Program

The CIS AmeriCorps Program focuses on addressing the social and behavioral needs of students, and one important asset is the administration of the BASC assessments. The BASC assessments screen students for emotional and behavioral health risks, identifying students dealing with issues such as social anxiety and sadness. Without this assessment, students who tend to internalize their struggles might not get the necessary extra support. CIS AmeriCorps members like Alex Fixler are trained to teach skills that address these needs.

Alex is a graduate student at Tulane University and is assigned to Encore Academy, working with Pre K – 3rd grade students. She organized social skills groups to reach students who felt nervous in school and had difficulty interacting with others. The groups practiced communication skills, starting and taking turns in conversations, and including others in a discussion. They also learned how to identify and manage feelings, and engaged in role playing to prepare for interactions outside the groups. Alex’s work helped these students develop relationships with one another, and be more comfortable with peer interactions.

Social skills groups help students develop the tools they need to feel safe and secure in school. The CIS AmeriCorps program, and its trained members like Alex, provide the support systems necessary for happy and productive classmates.

CIS of Greater New Orleans Celebrates 21 Year Milestone

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.

CIS Americorps Members – Making a Difference Through Experience

Americorps members who serve in the CIS Americorps program work side-by-side with CIS Site Coordinators, inside ten schools. These graduate students from outstanding local universities combine their internship time with volunteerism under the guidance of our CIS team.

Serving as an Americorps member is an educational and inspirational experience, and Communities In Schools is a perfect fit for graduates dedicated to social work and counseling. Like Keri, an Americorps member who saw CIS as a great way to continue working with young children and families.

“As soon as I walked into the school I thought, ‘This fits. This work and environment makes sense to me,’” Keri explains, “and its been great so far.”

When she decided to join Americorps, Keri chose the CIS program based on her previous social work in Nashville, where she was first introduced to Communities In Schools. “The organization I worked for helped bring Communities In Schools to the city’s public schools, and I gained a lot of respect for CIS.”

For Tyris, who began his Americorps membership this spring semester, the decision to join the CIS program came when a Communities In Schools staff member spoke at his school. “I wanted to help kids, and CIS felt like the route to get there,” he says. “It felt like that’s what CIS believes in. When CIS came and spoke, it really made me want to become an Americorps member.”

Tyris, whose social work up until Americorps focused mainly on working with adults, finds inspiration from the kids he counsels and mentors each day. “They’re great kids, real funny and active. The work I do is very fulfilling as a whole. When I get home, I feel good.”

Americorps members not only gain skills and experience from the CIS program – they make a valuable, positive impact in the lives of CIS students.

Learn more about the Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans AmeriCorps program at our website – http://www.cisneworleans.org/get_involved/americorps.html