What makes Communities In Schools different from other youth-serving organizations?

Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s largest and most effective dropout prevention organization because we do whatever it takes to keep kids in school and on the path to graduation. To implement our unique model of Integrated Student Supports, CIS affiliates place site coordinators inside schools to assess the needs of students and their families and then provide them with resources that will help them stay in school and succeed in life. CIS affiliates   partner with local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers and volunteers across the country. Whether it’s providing mentoring, self-esteem building and academic support or connecting students with food, school supplies and health care in their community, Communities In Schools is there to help. View our unique model to learn more about all that we do to empower students.

Who does Communities In Schools serve?

Communities In Schools works with some of most vulnerable and at-risk students in Pittsburgh. Nationally, CIS serves students from kindergarten through their senior year of high school and operates inside some of the most challenged communities across the United States.  Communities In Schools is changing the picture of education for nearly 1.5 million students and their families every year nation-wide. During the 2014-2015 school year, 93 percent of the students receiving Communities In Schools services were eligible for free or reduced price lunch. Read our latest annual report for a more in-depth look at the students we serve.

How does Communities In Schools work within a school?

Working with school districts across the country, Communities In Schools places site coordinators directly in schools to identify the needs of the students and their families and find the right resources to address those needs. Site coordinators collaborate with staff and administration to identify students at risk of dropping out. With the help of the CIS affiliate, site coordinators also forge strong community partnerships that bring programs, services and funding to the school to provide students with what they need to succeed. Take a look at our interactive model to learn more.

What is a site coordinator?

A site coordinator is a paid staff member positioned inside a Communities In Schools’ partner school. The site coordinator acts as the hub of resources at the school. Site coordinators connect students and families with community resources that address both academic and nonacademic needs of students and also help to support families if there are challenges happening in the home. Site coordinators also function as positive role models and mentors and do everything they can to help students succeed.

What kind of training and experience do Communities In Schools’ site coordinators have?

The training and experience of site coordinators varies throughout the network but most have extensive experience and educational backgrounds in youth development. Many are former teachers and school staff, social workers or lifelong mentors. All are dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of students.

Once hired, all site coordinators participate in a 10 course certification program that provides a comprehensive orientation and training to the CIS model. In addition, most CIS of Pittsburgh provides additional training specific to the needs of Pittsburgh students and communities.  To learn more about the different kinds of services we provide, view our interactive model.

Do Communities In Schools’ students continue to receive services after they graduate?

Communities In Schools formally serves K-12 students, but our site coordinators frequently stay in touch with students beyond high school. Many continue to be a positive force in students’ lives after the students graduate from high school, and provide moral support as young people move on to college and career. To continue to support and stay in touch with our graduates, CIS is working with 14 handpicked CIS alumni from across the country to launch a national Alumni Leadership Network that will focus on providing graduates professional and personal leadership development opportunities. Check back frequently on the CIS website for more details about this launch.

How does Communities In Schools evaluate its success?

Because CIS is dedicated to continuous learning both at the school and affiliate level, we measure our operations methodically, carefully evaluate all aspects of our programs and use this knowledge to constantly improve. To date, we’ve conducted nine external evaluations to determine whether Communities In Schools has an impact on student-level and school-level outcomes. The results demonstrate that what Communities In Schools has been doing for nearly 40 years works and establishes us as a leader in the field of integrated student supports.
To learn more about national data and our research efforts, visit the Our Results page.

How do I get Communities In Schools in my school?


If you are interested in finding out how to get CIS in your school, please contact our Program Manager, Mark Scaramuzzi, at MScaramuzzi@cispac.org or 412-361-4945.

How can I help Communities In Schools of Pittsburgh?

There are numerous ways — in short, you can donate, volunteer, or advocate for our holistic approach to education. Help us tackle the dropout problem by advocating for legislation that better enables achievement.  Make a difference in the life of a child by donating to CIS of PIttsburgh.  Or give us your time by joining our volunteers who help us serve thousands of young people every year.

How much of my donation will be used to support Communities In Schools’ initiatives?

Every dollar committed to Communities In Schools is well spent. For $156 a year, we can help a student who is in danger of dropping out stay on track to graduation. Because of a largely volunteer workforce and small administrative overhead, approximately 90 percent of the organization’s expenses go directly to program work supporting students.

Communities In Schools has been recognized for its sound business practices and financial transparency, earning a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s premier nonprofit evaluator, for responsible fiscal management. We are accredited by the Better Business Bureau and have received gold status from GuideStar.  Philanthropedia, a nonprofit aimed at helping donors give more strategically, recommended Communities In Schools as a high-impact nonprofit working with at-risk youth in the U.S.

How is Communities In Schools funded?

Communities In Schools’ work is funded through numerous sources, including federal and corporate grants, as well as foundation and individual donations.