At Communities In Schools (CIS) of Nevada, we are “All in for Kids,” doing everything we can to keep kids in school and on track to graduate. Across our three affiliates in Nevada, we have a presence in 91 high-needs schools, where we are doing whatever it takes to support the 90,000 students enrolled at those schools. Given that most of our schools are Title I, the students we serve are primarily from low-income homes, many are of color, and all are living under difficult circumstances that make it challenging for them to focus on learning.
Written by: Debbie Palacios, Executive Director, Communities In Schools of Southern Nevada
At CIS, our model is to place dedicated, full-time site coordinators in our schools to identify students most vulnerable to dropout and determine what they need to stay in school. From food, clothing, hygiene products, laundry detergent, eyeglasses, dental and medical services, mental health counseling or just a band-aid or a hug, no ask or need is too small or great for our site coordinators. They tap into our statewide network of 120 nonprofits and agencies to get our kids whatever they need – providing a plethora of wraparound services that literally brings the community into our schools. Our site coordinators are trusted mentors, friends and often, the only caring adult in the lives of many of these students.
The success of our evidence-based model is easily measured by the graduation rate of the students we serve. During the 2020-2021 school year, our students achieved a 92 percent graduation rate, a 13 percent increase compared to the 79 percent statewide rate for students on free and reduced lunch programs. Our numbers also surpassed the statewide graduation rate for students of color: 15 percent more for Hispanic students, 20 percent more for Black students and 10 percent more for multi-racial students. Of the 323 case-managed high school seniors, 149 of them were Hispanic/Latino, the largest subgroup.
CIS’ strategic plan for 2022-2025 is officially underway as of August 1, and its theme couldn’t be more appropriate: fulfilling our promise. While the three years prior were unclear and uncertain, the global pandemic sharpened the necessity of CIS’ mission. Together, along with our community partners and stakeholders, we look forward to doubling down on our commitment to justice, racial, economic and social equity and our kids’ education, focusing on their mental, physical and emotional wellbeing.
CIS works with schools throughout the Clark County School District (the nation’s fifth largest with 300,000+ students). The CCSD’s student population is primarily Hispanic/Latino at 47 percent or 146,435 students.