School partnership will serve hundreds

Children in three Caddo Parish schools will receive more intensive community support through a partnership between Volunteers of America of North Louisiana and Communities in Schools starting this school year.

The partnership will use the proven CIS model to connect students with resources so they stay in school and succeed. In the first year, the partnership will address students at JS Clark Elementary School, Booker T. Washington High School and Linwood Public Charter School.

“We are thrilled to be launching this partnership,” said Chris Gabriel, executive vice president for Volunteers of America. “CIS has demonstrated success around the country. Combining their model and our experience with The LightHouse, we can make a positive difference in the lives of these students.”

CIS and Volunteers of America share a belief that any child can succeed if he or she has these five basics:

* A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult
* A safe place to learn and grow
* A healthy start and a healthy future
* A marketable skill to use upon graduation
* A chance to give back to peers and community

With that framework, the school-based program centers around a site coordinator who will be placed at each school. She will facilitate the two-pronged CIS approach. First, the model evaluates whole school needs and addresses those through larger scale projects such as a clothes closet, college fairs or health screenings.

Then the site coordinator will provide more intensive assistance to selected students, usually referred by teachers or counselors. The coordinator will link those students with necessary resources ranging from tutors to counselors to regular goal setting meetings.

CIS was founded more than 30 years ago and now operates in 2200 schools around the country. Last year, of the student receiving intensive services, 75 percent met their attendance improvement goals, 86 percent met their behavior goals, 97 percent advanced to the next grade, and 99 percent stayed in school.

The partnership is funded in part through grants from The Community Foundation, the United Way fund of The Community Foundation and The Grayson Foundation.

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