Communities in Schools (CIS)

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Changing the Picture of Education in Miami


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About Our Programs

Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s leading organization dedicated to helping students achieve in school. Our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering students to stay in school and achieve in life. Founded in 1977, CIS works to unify the existing resources of communities around children, families, and schools. The CIS network operates in 27 states and the District of Columbia, and serves nearly 1.2 million students annually through a federation of 195 independent 501(c)(3) affiliates. Incorporated locally in 1989, CIS of Miami serves approximately 25,000 students a year.

What makes CIS of Miami innovative and effective is our evidence-based Integrated Support Services Model that employs both whole school and targeted strategies to impact school and individual student outcomes. After a rigorous third party research conducted by ICF International, it was determined that the CIS Model is the only nationally proven program to decrease drop-out rates, increase on-time graduation rates, and improve math and reading performance in 4th grade students. The CIS model places a site coordinator to work directly in the school to coordinate and deliver services. Typical services include mentoring, tutoring, counseling, case management, life skills development, job and career readiness, and other needed services provided from partnering social service agencies, businesses, volunteer groups, and CIS of Miami staff. This broad safety net of support forms the basis of our three current programs.

These Communities In Schools programs depend on the joint work of staff, partners, and volunteers. This past year 437 volunteers provided 57,184 hours of service. Thousands of students benefit from its services each year with 95% of elementary students reading at grade level, 98% of elementary and middle school being promoted to the next grade level, and 98% of all CIS students staying in school.


The CIS Philosophy: Every Child Needs and Deserves the Five Basics:

•One-on-one relationships with caring adults,

•Safe places to learn and grow,

•A healthy start and healthy future,

•Marketable skills to use upon graduation, and

•Chances to give back to peers and community.

Since its inception in 1989, CIS has provided resources for nearly 100,000 students through a community of support, empowering them to stay in school through its comprehensive wrap-around services including mentoring, tutoring, life skills development, case management, counseling, job readiness, and more.

Under the leadership of Elizabeth Mejia, CIS of Miami’s President/CEO, the program annually raises nearly $3 million worth of private donations and grants. Furthermore, an economic impact study conducted by EMSI, one of the nation’s leading economic modeling firms, quantified the return on investment of CIS affiliates to taxpayers, businesses, and students. The survey found an average return of investment to society to be 18.4 percent and the benefit/cost ratio 11.6, which means that every dollar invested in Communities In Schools creates $11.60 of economic benefit for the community.

“Having come from a similar background as many of our students and being a first generation college graduate, I know first-hand how important education is to break the cycle of poverty that plagues too many of our youth. Education saved my life, and I know it will save the lives of many more students. That is why I am so passionate about our mission.”

–Elizabeth Mejia CEO/President, Communities In Schools of Miami


Alvin Rosenfeld, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and author of The Over-Scheduled Child explains that all  not extracurricular activities are bad.  “Enrichment activities are perfect,” he said. “They add a lot to kids’ lives. The problem is, we’ve lost the ability to balance them with down time, boring time.”

Children and their parents who find themselves in this predicament can take action to remedy the situation.  Scheduling in moderation, setting time limits on activities and only choosing activities that a child is truly interested in can have a huge impact. Allowing downtime for parents and children to bond and relax can make a world of difference.


Written by: Communities In Schools of Miami, Inc.