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.
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.