Communities In Schools

At a Glance

National Office: 
2345 Crystal Drive Suite 801
Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 703-519-8999

Daniel Cardinali
People Served: 
Year Founded: 
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Focus area(s):

K-12 Reform
After-School & Out-of-School
Health Services/Access

See These Reports For More Information


Communities In Schools (CIS) is a dropout prevention organization with a mission to surround students with a community of support empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CIS works within the public school system, determining student needs and establishing relationships with local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers, and parent and volunteer organizations to provide needed resources.

Impact and Outcomes

Of the students served by CIS, 97% of potential dropouts remained in school at the end of the school year.
84% of monitored eligible seniors graduated.
91% monitored for promotion risk were promoted to the next grade.
86% met their behavior improvement goals.
In a teacher support survey, 72% of respondents said that because of CIS they can better improve student achievement.
72% of respondents said that because of CIS more community resources are brought to their school.
76% of respondents said that because of CIS their overall effectiveness is greater.

Mission & Goals

Communities In Schools (CIS) is a dropout prevention organization with a mission to surround students with a community of support empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. For more than 30 years, CIS has connected needed community resources with schools. By bringing caring adults and a wide variety of services into schools to address children’s unmet needs, CIS provides a link between educators and the community. The results of CIS’s model of Integrated Student Services (ISS) are that teachers are free to teach and students, many at risk of dropping out, have the opportunity to focus on learning. To help students stay in school, CIS identifies and brings together in one place – public schools – all the resources and services available in the community that kids need to be successful. These services vary from one community to the next and from state to state and address specific needs such as academic support, mentoring, health care, family strengthening, career development, summer and after-school programs, alternative education models, and service learning. Today, the CIS network is comprised of nearly 5,000 passionate professionals working in 190 local affiliate nonprofits in 25 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 53,000 community volunteers, serving 1.35 million young people in almost 3,000 schools around the nation.


CIS works inside school systems with superintendents, principals, educators, and other personnel, and forges community partnerships that bring resources into schools and help remove barriers to learning.  Unlike dropout rescue programs, designed to help students after they’ve hit rock bottom, Communities In Schools surrounds students with a community of support to ensure they stay in school. The Integrated Student Services (ISS) model addresses both the total student—because students with unmet physical, psychological, and social needs cannot learn effectively—and the whole school environment.  Research has shown that this attention to needs of both the entire school and the individual student are critical to reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates.

CIS is focused on the lowest performing schools and the students most vulnerable to dropping out. 

  • 96% of the students CIS serves are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, a strong indicator of poverty; and 81% are racial minorities. 
  • Comprehensive and integrated services are provided in each participating school through a single point of contact—the school-based coordinator.  Site coordinators conduct a full assessment of school and student needs and tailor services to meet those needs.  These services may encompass academic help, direct provision of health care, counseling, support groups, transportation, donated goods, mentoring, afterschool programs, and more. 
  • With leadership from the CIS national office and a network of state offices, CIS affiliates gather resources within their own communities to implement the school-based ISS program. 
  • The cash cost of implementation of the CIS model averages less than $200 per child, because the affiliates are so successful at leveraging goods, services, and volunteer time. 
  • Over the last ten years, CIS has almost doubled the numbers of students it serves annually from 700,000 to 1.35 million.  With its low per student cost and its focus on the specific needs of the community and schools in which each local affiliate is working, the CIS model has proven that it is both scalable and adaptable.  It can be successfully implemented in kindergarten through 12th grade in many different types of communities.


A five-year independent evaluation found that:

  • CIS has the strongest reduction in dropout of any existing fully scaled dropout prevention program.
  • CIS is unique in having an impact on both reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates.
  • When the CIS model is implemented with high fidelity, positive student outcomes double.
  • The CIS model is effective across states, school settings (urban, rural and suburban), grade levels, and student ethnicities.

The five-year evaluation was conducted by ICF International, which analyzed the Communities In Schools model and how that model has affected the students, families and communities where CIS has operated in the period from 2005 to 2010.  ICF employed a rigorous integrated research design to evaluate CIS at the multiple levels of state affiliates, local affiliates, and school sites.  The methodology included random controlled trials, which are the gold standard of evaluation research. 

The multi-part, integrated study included:

  • An implementation study that examined results from 1,766 Communities In Schools sites nationwide;
  • A quasi-experimental study that compared results from 602 Communities In Schools sites against 602 matched sites without a Communities In Schools presence;
  • A “deep dive” study of 368 Communities In Schools sites to identify best practices; and
  • Three randomized controlled trials, studying 573 students at nine sites.

CIS has transformed network practice based on this in-depth and cross-cutting examination of its processes and outcomes. Based on the mid-point results from the Implementation Study and the Quasi-Experimental Study, Communities In Schools codified a set of program and business standards (Total Quality System or TQS) that the research revealed had the greatest effect on student improvement, and then drove those practices back into the network through an accreditation process. Approximately 108 affiliates have been accredited or are in the process, with all affiliates on track for accreditation by 2015.

Growth Plan

CIS’s 10-year vision is that every child in need in America has access to high-quality integrated student services and that millions more students stay in school, graduate, and succeed in life.

CIS’s 3-year goal in order to achieve the longer-term vision is that the CIS model will be nationally recognized as a proven solution, and CIS will be poised to lead a movement that changes the lives of millions of children in public schools throughout the country. 

The CIS growth plan has three parts:

I.  Unlock the Potential

Highly trained community leaders will spread the proven CIS model throughout the network and beyond, doubling positive outcomes for young people.

  • Accelerate comprehensive quality initiatives throughout the network
    • See more than 80% of CIS local affiliates achieve accreditation that they are implementing the CIS model with fidelity and managing a sustainable community-based nonprofit organization.
    • Take 75% of the Site Coordinators in the network through a rigorous certification program.
    • Initiate a leadership development program for CIS state office and local affiliate executive directors.
  • Continue to develop the evidence base for Integrated Student Services through:
    • Ongoing rigorous evaluation to further demonstrate the impact of the CIS model and continue to improve implementation.
    • Economic modeling to determine the return on investment for each affiliate and for the network as a whole.
    • Enhanced data tracking systems to ensure the consistency of data collection and drive decision making in the network with solid information.
  • Scale to targeted areas of opportunity
    • Leverage existing network infrastructure to expand the schools and students served in Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina.
    • Build new infrastructure to establish a footprint in Tennessee and New Mexico.

II.  Change the Frame

Policy makers and the general public will see CIS and Integrated Student services as an effective solution to the nation’s dropout crisis.

  • Launch a major, multifaceted public awareness campaign to showcase CIS and ensure that Integrated Student Services is part of the vocabulary of every parent, teacher, and school administrator, and valued as essential to education reform.
  • Engage people in CIS communities as donors, volunteers, and advocates.
  • Invest in CIS’s high-achieving alumni as future leaders, advocates, and volunteers.
  • Leverage a growing number of corporate marketing partnerships to build awareness and raise funds.

III.  Secure the Future

Increased public and private resources will be available to deliver high quality Integrated Student Services to every child in need in America.

  • Build state office capacity to partner with federal and state funding agencies and secure new public funds.
  • Increase volunteer leadership and staff resource development capacity across the network.
  • Build individual donor programs to provide a reliable source of funding for the network.
  • Deepen network capacity to raise foundation and corporate funding.
  • Build resource development capacity in the national office to support CIS’s long-term impact strategy.

Location of Sites

National Office: 
2345 Crystal Drive Suite 801
Arlington, VA 22202
Phone: 703-519-8999
List of locationsMap of locations

To make a contribution to a program site:

  1. Click on the "Make a Contribution Now" button and include the name, city and state of the program you would like to support, in the "notes" text box on the organization's donation form, if available.
  2. If a "notes" or "designation" box is not available, write the city and state on your check in the "notes" section or call the national office to designate your contribution to a local program site.

Locations in the following states:




District Of Columbia











North Carolina


New Jersey


New York



South Carolina




West Virginia


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Major Funders

The Allwin Family

The Herb Alpert Foundation

Altria Group

AT&T Foundation

Robert H.B. Baldwin, Jr. and Margaret J. Sieck

Robert H. B. Baldwin through the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Capital One

Raymond Chambers through The MCJ Amelior Foundation

Anne Cox Chambers

James Cox Chambers through the National Christian Foundation

Cisco Systems

Costco Wholesale

Creative Artists Agency

The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation

The Emerson Collective Education Fund

Gap, Inc.

Hudson Group


Jillian Manus

The Meadows Foundation

MetLife Foundation

Moldaw Family Supporting Foundation 2 of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund

Moss Foundation

John D. Nixon

Procter & Gamble

Robertson Foundation

John and Debbie Shaw

The Wallace Foundation

Windsong Trust

Elaine Wynn

Stephen Wynn