Supporting Students with Communities in Schools

For many students, success in school isn’t all about sheer academic ability. Obstacles outside of the school walls often contribute to a student’s ability to learn and thrive.

Communities in Schools (CIS) of Atlanta works to bust through those obstacles, helping area students overcome challenges that might stand in their way of graduating and success.

Started in 1972, CIS is part of the nation’s largest dropout prevention network, with a proven track record of impacting graduation rates. The program works in schools full-time, building one-on-one relationships to help kids stay in school and succeed in life.

“Our mission is to surround our students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life, and we bring caring adults into the schools to address kids’ unmet needs,” said Cecily Robertson, Communications Manager for CIS.

“We provide that link between educators and the community,” she added.

This work takes form in many ways, including providing clean clothes for students, emotional support, and help with school work. Many students who work with CIS come from homes with problems such as no running water to wash their clothes or no one at home to help provide food.

Through school-wide services, targeted group support, and individual case management, CIS provides an opportunity for students to get the help and attention they need to succeed.

CIS works with 65 schools throughout Atlanta, in Atlanta Public Schools, and Fulton, Dekalb, and Clayton counties. The combined student population of these schools totals around 30,000, and CIS provides its intensive case model to about 4,500 students.

Those 4,500 students have produced many success stories, including one of a local 10th-grade boy. The student was struggling with behavior, academics, and attendance. He very rarely made it to school on time and often skipped altogether.

The people at CIS found out that the student was working a night job to provide for his family. He was then too tired in the morning to come to school. CIS helped find the family some additional resources, so the boy didn’t have to work so many hours. Now, the student comes to school on a regular basis, is passing his classes, and has a 3.4 GPA.

The student is working hard and has dreams of becoming a pilot. “His whole outlook on life has turned around,” Robertson said.  

“Life is hard for these kids, and sometimes they need that person to talk to and push them along the way,” Robertson added.

CIS partners with a variety of local and national organizations, including The Coca Cola Company, Cox Enterprises, and Georgia-Pacific. They are always looking for volunteers to help with mentoring, as reading coaches, or to come in during the school day to be a lunch buddy. More information can be found at