CIS is a community partner for Champion: An Opera in Jazz

CIS is excited to be a community partner of the New Orleans Opera Association for their upcoming performances of Champion. A 10% discount on tickets is available when you enter NOOPARTNERZ at checkout. Performances are March 9 and March 11.

The Opera Association has invited CIS to be a partner for these performances. The high school students we serve will have an opportunity to see the dress rehearsal for free, and on opening night (March 9) CIS will be able to talk about our work with opera patrons and other community partners.

Visit for tickets and more information.

Champion: An Opera in Jazz



The Story of Champion (from the New Orleans Opera Association website)

Emile Griffith was a three-time World Welterweight Champion and twice a World Middleweight Champion, fighting from the late 1950s into the 1970s. However, one of his greatest professional triumphs – winning back the Welterweight Championship from Benny “The Kid” Paret in 1962 – was also one of his greatest personal tragedies. The seventeen punches he landed on Paret in seven seconds resulted in not only a knockout, but also a coma from which Paret would never recover. Paret would die ten days later.

Before that life-changing televised fight, in a room full of press and officials, Paret mocked Griffith repeatedly with a derogatory term for homosexual. Years later, Griffith’s sexuality as a gay man was revealed to the public after he was nearly killed by a gang outside a gay bar in New York. “I kill a man,” Griffith was quoted to have said, “and most people understand and forgive me. I love a man, and to so many people this is an unforgivable sin.” In an inspiring, moving, and painful journey of self-discovery, Champion presents audiences with a great contemporary tragic hero – a man of strength and courage consumed ultimately by rage, regret, and the terrible consequences of his actions.

Get Ready to Run (or Walk) for CIS!

Mark your calendars for the inaugural Ruby Slipper 5K and Youth Run benefiting Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans! The race is on Sunday, February 25. The Ruby Slipper is celebrating their 10th anniversary with this run and they have generously offered to donate proceeds to Communities In Schools.

This is a fun way to celebrate the success of a local business and raise funds for CIS. Register for the run/walk here. See updates about the event and the post-race party on Facebook.

Join us for the Ruby Slipper Run benefiting CIS!

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.

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!

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.

Be Sure to Pick Up a CIS Recyclable Bag at the Urban League’s School Expo 2017

On Saturday, February 4th the Urban League‘s School Expo 2017 will be held at the Mercedes Benz Superdome. This free event allows school leaders and community service providers to meet with parents face-to-face, with information on the resources available throughout the community.

By providing a one-stop shop, parents will be able to learn about all of their school options in New Orleans, prioritize their OneApp submission, and enjoy the Expo’s entertainment with their kids – there will be STEM activities, games, inflatables and rock climbing!

CIS is a sponsoring organization of the Urban League’s School Expo 2017, and we are providing complimentary recyclable bags for attendees to use as they collect and connect with schools and community programs. Pick up your CIS bag upon entrance and enjoy the expo –and remember, our bags are recyclable and perfect for collecting mardi gras throws!

The School Redesign Summit – Louisiana’s Strategy for Improving Struggling Schools

Tomorrow is a pivotal day in the life of Louisiana public education.  Representatives from school districts and charter schools across the state will convene in New Orleans to meet with representatives of more than 40 organizations for a massive sharing of information.  The Louisiana Department of Education describes it like this:

“Louisiana has dramatically reduced the number of D and F rated schools in the past several years benefiting thousands of students who otherwise would have been assigned to a struggling school. At the same time, there remain schools in our state whose challenges are significant. Research indicates that nearly every effective model of school transformation includes some external support. Frustratingly, no comprehensive inventory of possible partners exists, and few—if any—opportunities exist for Local Education Agencies (LEA) and school leaders to meaningfully collaborate with industry experts and possible partners.

The School Redesign Summit seeks to address these gaps. Through a series of interactive sessions, the Summit will provide an opportunity for LEAs and school redesign partners to begin brainstorming strategies to improve the achievement of Louisiana’s persistently struggling schools. LEA teams will leave the day-long School Redesign Summit with:

  1. an understanding of school improvement strategies working in Louisiana and across the nation;
  2. greater clarity on the improvement strategies they plan to use in their lowest performing schools; and,
  3. a list of potential partners to support their work.

Partner organizations will leave the day-long School Redesign Summit with:

  1. a deeper understanding of what the state needs to improve its struggling schools; and
  2. the role they can play in supporting improvement for Louisiana students and schools.

After the Summit, each LEA may choose to submit their school redesign plans as part of a competitive grant process. Per the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the Department will competitively award these funds to LEAs with the strongest evidence-based plans. These diverse plans will, in due course, make up Louisiana’s school turnaround component of the state’s ESSA plan.”

Communities In Schools – with its strong evidence of success across the nation and 21-year presence in Louisiana serving students in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport communities – is pleased to be an invited partner organization at the Summit. Four CIS representatives, led by Dale Erquiaga, CIS National President, will meet with at least 17 school districts and charter schools to explore needs and possible CIS solutions.  

Thank you Pro Bono Publico Foundation!

The Pro Bono Publico Foundation awarded over $1 million in grants to New Orleans schools and educational organizations, including Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans, last week at the Rex Den. This year marked the seventh year that the Foundation, an outgrowth of the Rex Organization funded predominantly by its members, has supported the work of CIS in changing the picture of education in New Orleans. We thank Pro Bono Publico for their dedication to improving the lives of students in this city, by funding both CIS and so many of our partner schools and organizations.

The Pro Bono Publico Foundation was organized by Rex members returning to New Orleans after levees failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, flooding the city. The Foundation’s annual
grants have helped support the reformation of New Orleans failed public school system through awards to schools successfully educating our children and the organizations supporting that success.

You can learn more about the Pro Bono Publico Foundation at We are grateful for their generous support and their dedication to serve New Orleans, both with their annual parade and through the Foundation.

Jazz for Young People: The Resilient Cities Tour continues this week in New Orleans schools

Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans welcomes the return of the Jazz at Lincoln Center musicians this week for the second in a three-part concert series for middle school students at 10 area schools. Wynton Marsalis, the Managing and Artistic Director for the Lincoln Center, spearheaded the expansion of its partnership with The Rockefeller Foundation to offer participating students examples of how others used music to wrestle with the enduring social struggles of urban life in the 21st century, particularly in cities where urban stresses have been especially prevalent, sometimes tearing at the social fabric of communities, yet now are on the road to resilience.  The program is doing this by illustrating the connection between jazz and democracy as well as the historical power of jazz to unite communities in a nonviolent manner at moments of unrest.

“I couldn’t be more proud, as an educator and the president of The Rockefeller Foundation, that we are able to support innovative curricula that expands possibilities for young people,” said Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “As we have seen with our support of HAMILTON the Musical, experiential learning, is a proven – and critical – tool for enhancing public education and building urban resilience.  Now with Jazz for Young People, we have another great opportunity to open up young minds by showing them how jazz has inspired hope in the face of adversity.”

Communities In Schools is facilitating the program in New Orleans and announced that two concerts will be held each day this week, as the Jazz for Young People musicians travel to Phillis Wheatley Community School, Medard H Nelson Charter School, ReNEW Schaumburg Elementary, Langston Hughes Academy, Arthur Ashe Charter School, Pierre Capdau Charter School, Homer A Plessy Community School, Success Preparatory Academy, Morris Jeff Community School and Encore Academy to play for the students. They will return in May for a final concert series.

Schools Expo Tomorrow at the Superdome!


New Orleans students and their families have a great opportunity to learn more about their educational opportunities tomorrow. From 10 AM to 2 PM in the Superdome, the Urban League of Greater New Orleans will host the annual Schools Expo, featuring booths and representatives from schools and educational organizations around Greater New Orleans. Communities In Schools of Greater New Orleans leaders will be on hand, discussing CIS services and offering kids a spin of the free prize wheel for a book or other supplies! We hope to see you there tomorrow and that everyone will take this opportunity to learn more about education in our city.

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