Featured Grant Story: Communities in Schools of the South Plains
What is Communities in Schools of the South Plains?
Communities in Schools of the South Plains (CIS), established in 1999, prevents kids from dropping out of school by giving them the tools they need to be successful. CIS bridges the gap between family and school.
The mission of Communities in Schools is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.
In 2017, CIS was able to enhance and expand its already successful programs with funds provided by the Community Foundation of West Texas. With the addition of an emergency fund that provided hygiene and other necessities CIS allowed 67 students and/or their families to spend less time worrying about needs such as clean clothes and electric bills, and instead lent them more time to focus on schoolwork.
The strength of the CIS program is incredible. CIS was also able to help families with gas vouchers, utility bills for 11 families, and partial rent. Also purchased were glasses, undergarments and/or school uniforms for students, as well as provided assistance with vouchers to a laundry mat, and student haircuts. Additionally, grant funding was used to purchase hygiene products to be give to students as needed.
This program helps children to focus on just being a student. Emergency fund assistance also helps families engage with their child's success in school and promotes the overall mission of CIS.
Amber dreams of advocating for children!
Amber, 18, is currently involved in Communities in Schools' Teen Parent Group. She says that CIS has helped her as a young, single mother, by providing referrals for child support and other social services, as well as parenting education. Amber says that she knows she can go to her Site Coordinator, Carla, "if I need to talk, vent, or cry. She has provided me with many resources to help me be successful, and she monitors my grades and stays on top of me to make sure my assignments are completed."
Through her involvement with CIS, Amber has become a responsible young lady, who in addition to school, where she competes in powerlifting, works part-time to support her little boy. Amber's dream is to become a Child Advocacy Attorney to ensure all children receive the justice they deserve. She says she wants to "help right the wrong of what some children go through."
Harlie dreams of helping people with cancer!
Harlie, age 11, is a sweet, shy girl who sometimes has trouble finding her voice. Since becoming involved in Communities in Schools programs such as GRACE (Girls Reaching and Conquering Empowerment) and the Girls Lunch Group, Harlie has become more comfortable with speaking up and sharing her thoughts. She says that participation in these groups has allowed her to feel more comfortable with her friends and her teachers, especially when talking about the recent illness of her grandmother, Harlie's primary caregiver.
When asked, Harlie said that her dream is to become an oncologist so she can help cancer patients like her grandmother.
Angel dreams of being a lunch buddy!
Angel used to struggle with controlling his emotions, but through his participation in Communities in Schools, he has learned new skills such as taking deep breathes, counting to 10, and talking with an adult. Since learning these skills, the 12 year old has not been disciplined at school once.
The Communities in Schools Lunch Buddy program has made a huge difference in Angel's life. He says, "My Lunch Buddy and I have a lot in common, and we have such a good time together. He has helped me keep my grades high and do good in school. We have read books on different topics like anger, and it has helped me to calm down more. The good thing is that if I get in trouble, I can always go to my Communities in Schools Site Coordinator, or Mr. Brown for help."
Angels wants to be an engineer and build cars and houses, but he also dream of helping other kids. "First thing I will do is go to college, then get a job, and then be like my Lunch Buddy, Mr. Brown, and be someone's Lunch Buddy!"
Te'Andra's dream is to help kids succeed!
Enrollment in Communities in Schools has brought 9 year old Te'Andra out of her shell. Her participation in Chess Club, Robotics, UIL, and a leadership group for girls has empowered her to be more social. She now is able to open up in class and is making new friends. She loves teaching her new friends how to play chess!
Te'Andra's Site Coordinator furnished her with a backpack and school supplies at the beginning of the school year. Each week, she provides Te'Andra with a Weekend Snack Bag, ensuring that Te'Andra has plenty of snacks to get her through the weekend. Te'Andra adores her Site Coordinator, writing in her notes and asking to eat lunch with her almost every day. She says that Communities in Schools has helped her "to become a respectful young lady, open up more, as in talking and expressing myself, and learning more about technology and chess."
Te'Andra plans to attend the University of Texas someday and study education. Her dream is to become a teacher and help students like herself succeed.
Julius dreams of being an honor student!
When 15 year old Julius first entered the Communities in Schools program, he was very shy and nervous about his first year of high school. However, with the help and guidance of his CIS Site Coordinator, Julius is flourishing! He was voted Vice President of his class, made it to Regionals in his Junior Life Skills Competition and in Cross Country, and also plays on the Varsity Basketball and Baseball teams. He recently made As in all of his classes.
Julius currently participates in Communities in Schools' XYZone group for young men and the Freshman College Readiness Group. He also loves to help tutor students who do not speak English.
Julius says "Once I got to know my CIS Site Coordinator, I felt a spark inside of me. The reason I say that is because he has been there for me and trusts me. I like going into his office to talk about the good and the bad things that are going on around me. I really appreciate what he does for me because he's always keeping up with my grades and other personal things."
Julius dreams of taking honors classes next year, graduating with honors, and playing baseball for Texas Tech.