Equity in Schools
February 3, 2022 – Communities In Schools (CIS) of Virginia, a state affiliate of a national organization working to ensure every student, regardless of race, zip code, or history of marginalization has what they need to succeed in school and beyond, today announced it is part of a unprecedented gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to the Communities In Schools Network and National Office.

Earlier today, Communities In Schools, Inc. announced the unprecedented $133.5 million donation from Scott which will be shared by the CIS National Office and 40 of the 110 affiliate organizations in the CIS network. CIS of was included in the donation.

In a time when the global pandemic has created unparalleled challenges for students and families, including experiences of social isolation, economic crisis, stress, and trauma, this investment will help CIS of Virginia to carry out its mission of supporting sustainability and growth within its statewide network.  Currently the CIS of Virginia network is comprised of six independent affiliate organizations who partner with 19 school districts and 123 schools to break down the systemic barriers that stand in the way of opportunity and student success. The gift from Scott will help catalyze growth both within existing affiliates and in unserved regions, but it does not change the reality of the continued work ahead, and the public and private partnership necessary to reach all students and schools in need of support.

“CIS of Virginia is grateful for this generous acknowledgement of the value of our work particularly in this challenging time for students and families,” said Mark Emblidge, Founder and President of CIS of Virginia.

“Additionally, we are pleased that three affiliates in our network have also received this unexpected gift. They each serve large geographic regions and multiple school divisions and have the capacity to reach thousands more students. I have no doubt this gift will help leverage critical public and private funds that can facilitate sustainability and growth,” said Emblidge.

For 22 years, the CIS of Virginia network has demonstrated measurable success in student outcomes. In the 2020-2021 school year, 95 percent of K-11 students enrolled in CIS programs statewide advanced to the next grade, with 88 percent of seniors graduating or receiving a GED.

Currently 80,000 students throughout Virginia have access to CIS. CIS’s school-based staff works inside schools and establishes one-on-one relationships with students to help them navigate issues and move beyond barriers that affect success in the classroom. CIS coordinates with schools and local service providers to meet the needs of students and families, as well as providing critical resources, like food, housing, healthcare, counseling, access to remote technology, and more so that students (and educators) can focus on academics.

CIS believes that transformative relationships are key to unlocking a student’s potential. CIS staff and community partners coordinate with schools to improve school climate; boost socio-emotional skills among students, teachers and staff; and reduce barriers to academic success.

CIS of Virginia’s goal is to bring CIS to every Title I-eligible school in Virginia.  Currently the network serves 86 Title I-eligible schools out of 760. “We have built a strong network and a solid foundation, but there is much work ahead and this gift is timely as we prepare for strategic growth to high-need communities,” said Emblidge.

“Having learned of the rigorous process Ms. Scott’s team employs to select philanthropic partners, I feel incredibly proud of this affirmation of CIS’s work in Virginia and hope that the public and private partners who have invested in our growth share in that pride,” said Dan Domenech, chair of the CIS of Virginia Board of Directors.

“Today is an important day for students who are underserved, under-resourced, and in need of supports to build a brighter future,” said Rey Saldaña, President and CEO of Communities In Schools.

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About Communities in Schools

Communities In Schools of Virginia is an affiliate of 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 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.

The Communities In Schools of Virginia network is comprised of six independent affiliate organizations: CIS of Chesterfield, CIS of Hampton Roads, CIS NOVA, CIS or Petersburg, CIS of Richmond and CIS of Southwest Virginia. Collectively, this network reaches more than 80,000 students in 123 schools across Virginia. www.cisofva.org