Community Partnerships

When community organizations are in schools, they are in good company as a CIS of Chicago partner. From museums and performance groups, to health education and college-readiness programs, these organizations can rely on our CIS of Chicago community partner specialists to connect them to classrooms and auditoriums filled with students ready to receive what they can offer.

In service to community partners, our specialists wear several hats: they are researchers who scout for services or education programs that address student need; they are facilitators who offer professional development on navigating classroom management, curriculum fidelity and more; they are allies who lend their eyes and ears to observe school-based programs and offer instructional feedback to improve connections with students; and they are managers who nurture the working relationships between a school community and those welcomed inside a building.

They wear these hats, but assign the hero hat to the community partners themselves, who agree to collaborate with CIS to support students, at no cost to the students or schools.

It's not easy going into a school to deliver a program when you don’t have a relationship with the students, teachers or administration. You’re a visitor who must command an audience and educate in ways that are sensitive and impactful. I really admire our community partners for being willing to take on that challenge as a part of our network.

... – Katrina Pavlik, senior community partner specialist at CIS

During the 2017-2018 school year, there were 214 community organizations in the CIS of Chicago network, and their work focused in four key areas: the arts; behavioral and mental health; college and career readiness; and health and wellness. They delivered almost 2,200 programs and services to the CIS network, meeting schools’ priorities for student needs and helping to serve nearly 7``1,700 students.

"Year after year, we send our community partners a survey asking what they value most about working with us," says Pavlik, "and every year they tell us that we help them get to more schools and more students more quickly because we are able to target the schools that want these partners. That makes their jobs a lot easier."

Pavlik adds that community partners make a school faculty stronger. "When a community partner goes into a classroom to deliver a workshop, that classroom teacher gets to see how somebody else manages their students, they get to see different ways of engaging students, and they’re learning the partner’s content all at the same time. That experience only enriches their teaching ability and their toolbox for teaching."