Communities Partner with Schools to Provide Safe Havens for At-Risk Kids

Starting in April 1998, Communities in Schools (CIS), a Virginia-based nonprofit stay-in-school network, sought to provide schoolchildren around the country with access to five key resources:

  • An ongoing relationship with a caring adult.
  • Safe places and structured activities during non-school hours.
  • A healthy start with a potential for a health future.
  • Marketable skills through effective education.
  • The opportunity to give back through community service.

This was the first phase of an initiative to establish community-linked schools, called Schools of Promise, throughout the country.

Key Results

  • Project staff mounted a scaled-back effort in two states:

    • South Carolina: Communities in Schools established a partnership with the superintendent's division of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators with the goal of creating Schools of Promise in every school district in the state.
    • North Carolina: Communities in Schools worked with local districts and schools, such as Highland Elementary School in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg area. Highland, located in an economically disadvantaged area, is open until 7 p.m. as a "community haven," with volunteers and local high school students providing tutoring and other after-school activities.

      A "Health Cabinet" of medical professionals provides free eye and dental care to students in Charlotte-Mecklenberg schools, as well as a school-based psychiatrist, mental health social worker, and community nurse.
  • Nationally, an outreach effort yielded pledges from more than 500 superintendents to assist in setting up Schools of Promise in their districts.