Dear Friends,

On October 10th and 11th, Communities In Schools participated in The Columbus Foundation’s Big Give. It was a wonderful opportunity to join our amazing community in this giving event. Thank you everyone for your generous donations and continued support of CIS!
Spotlight Series: South High School’s MENTORING Successes!
South High School is the school to watch with regard to Mentoring!

Extensive amounts of mentoring are happening at South High School thanks to second year CIS Site Coordinator, Tomeka Whitehead! Her legwork last year and over the summer has really paid off in numerous new opportunities and partnerships for the students at South High School.

Tomeka commented that “It is very exciting because, last year, we buckled down on the basics like attendance and uniforms, and now this year we are able to celebrate those individual successes and expand support for students beyond their basic needs toward career driven plans.”

More than half of South’s student population benefits from Report Card Conferences, in which volunteers from the community sit down with students and discuss their report cards. According to Tomeka, “This gives students so much confidence that their lives are important and that their academic goals matter.”

South has joined forces with Starfish Alliance, an organization that was born in 2002 with the mission to improve the odds of young people whose lives have been touched by the foster care system. Knowing that they were charged “to save as many as they could”, they have recently opened their arms to wrap supportive services around several additional clusters of kids – those in low-income families, survivors of trauma, justice-involved, and opportunity youth. Their extensive, personalized mentor program is being fully embraced at South High School!

This school year, South also partnered with Charles Martin and Clarence Jackson who run a powerful African American Male initiative called My Brother’s Keeper (MBK). This mentoring program is designed to address opportunity gaps for boys and men of color in our community. In November 2015, Columbus City Schools (CCS) was selected as one of 10 school districts across the country to participate in the roll out of the MBK School Success Mentor Initiative to address and eliminate chronic absenteeism for 6th and 9th grade students. This program is already helping young men at South High School in big ways.

Tomeka also helped roll out a Columbus City Schools district mentoring program at South called Project Mentor. In this bi-weekly mentoring program, community members are paired up with students in a 2:1 ratio to build relationships, discuss career goals, and affect change in student’s lives.

In addition to all of the organized mentor programs Tomeka has partnered with at South, Tomeka herself has had major success with her own one-on-one regular coaching and mentoring of students. Two of her students, Jackson and Marissa (above), have benefitted greatly from her mentoring and have gotten themselves out of very difficult life paths into leadership positions within their JROTC program! The students are winning all sorts of awards and are excelling in life thanks to their relationship with Tomeka!!!

We are very excited about the mentoring programs that have been initiated and are in place at South High School and look forward to measuring their success! Thank you so much for your continued support!

Amy Gordon, LSW

Executive Director

Communities In Schools of Central Ohio

 Dear Friends,

Communities In Schools is looking forward to the start of another amazing school year!

In July, CIS of Central Ohio was one of four organizations selected globally to participate in Global Impact Day 2017. Thanks to JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Break A Difference for their work recruiting and coordinating employee volunteers. They provided us with a valuable in-kind donation of over 1400 filled backpacks! 

CIS coordinated the first handout of backpacks that same day in partnership with Ethiopian Tewahedo Social Services to 100 students from our schools who attended their summer camp.  

CIS of Central Ohio was the only US non-profit selected as partner recipient for this effort.  

CIS also received 546 backpacks from the Fennessy/Harden Backpack Project; enabling CIS of Central Ohio to distribute 1946 total backpacks to our students this year!

According to the Huntington Backpack Index, for the 2017-2018 school year, parents can expect to pay $662-$1489 per child for school supplies and extracurricular activities; gratefully, these donations make a huge dent in the budgets of families in Central Ohio.  

Spotlight Series: Watch D.O.G.S. at Finland Elementary

Dads are getting involved at Finland Elementary School!

The Watch D.O.G.S Dad program at Finland Elementary School was a huge success thanks to the efforts of school staff and Kira Shade-Ray, Finland’s full-time CIS Site Coordinator.  The goals of the Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) program are:

  • To provide positive male role models for the students, demonstrating that education is important by their presence in the schools
  • To provide extra sets of eyes and ears to enhance school security and reduce bullying.

Watch D.O.G.S. are fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and other father-figures who volunteer for at least one day each year at an official WATCH D.O.G.S. school.

At Finland, Kira launched the program with a pizza party; inviting father-figures to the school to learn about the program, get their free t-shirts, and sign up for days to join their kids at school!

“There is so much excitement in the school when we have a Watch D.O.G.S. volunteer spending the day with us.  The volunteer starts the day in their child’s classroom, then travels around to other classrooms.  The kids LOVE seeing the dads in the lunchrooms.  The kids all want their dads to come so they can meet their friends.” 

Kira always takes a picture of the dad and student(s), who wear matching Watch D.O.G.S. t-shirts, and puts them up on the Wall of Fame to inspire other dads to join the fun.  

Our long term goal is to have a dad in school everyday.

Kira has also started a 4th Grade and 8th Grade Reading Buddies partnership with Finland Middle School this school year, and plans to reinstate and grow both programs in the 2017-2018 school year. 

Through our amazing community partnerships, we are empowering students to stay in school and achieve MORE!  Thank you so much for your continued support!
Amy Gordon,

Executive Director

Communities In Schools of Central Ohio