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Meet CIS of Chicago

We are the leading nonprofit in Chicago dedicated to removing barriers so that students can unlock their potential and stay on the path to graduation.

Backed by rigorous research, our model has been proven to both decrease dropout rates and increase graduation rates. This year, we are partnering with 175 Chicago Public Schools, and our work will positively impact more than 65,000 students.

Our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

Our organization accomplishes these goals through two core programs.

links our 175 school partners with a range of no-cost programs in arts enrichment, behavioral and mental health, college and career readiness, and physical health and wellness, provided by a strong network of community partners.

embeds a master’s level professional in 30 of the 175 school communities to provide supportive guidance, goal-setting, and other interventions to targeted students who are off-track in their attendance, behavior, and grades. That staff member also connects the school with a range of support programming.

Our vision is to ensure that every public-school student in Chicago graduates from high school prepared to succeed.

Our Core Values


It’s not enough that we or our partners do something; we want to make sure we do what works. Outcomes are our primary metric. Reflection, assessment, and adjustment are integral components of our work.


We believe in the power of relationships. We strive to build a real sense of connection among students, as well as our staff, our Board of Directors, our donors, and our school and community partners. Ultimately, strong relationships build strong communities.

Social Justice

We believe in each person’s inherent potential. Many Chicago students face complex issues like poverty and community violence that impact their learning. We are doing our part to help each child we serve to overcome those obstacles and have a fair chance in life to succeed.


At CIS of Chicago, we strive to be principled with our decision-making and our actions. Honesty, accountability, and dependability are non-negotiables for us. They are keystones to doing good work – and to building trust within our organization and among our partners.

Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion

In January 2020, CIS of Chicago launched a staff-driven Diversity, Equity, Inclusion + Culture Committee to promote a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment that takes both proactive and responsive measures to meet the needs of staff, stakeholders, and the community.

The work of the committee is designed to advance practices across staffing levels and roles within the organization. The outcomes of the DEI+C committee, set to be implemented by 2021, will enhance our services, strengthen our partner relationships, impact staff retention, and ultimately, improve students’ outcomes.

DEI+C Committee Objectives
  • Provide ongoing formal and informal education on diversity, equity, and inclusion based on organizational and programmatic need.
  • Investigate organizational strengths in diversity, equity, and inclusion and identify areas for growth, informed by best practices.
  • Continuously inform the adaptation and integration of diversity, equity, and inclusion language and definitions for organizational and programmatic practices.
  • Identify and operationalize diversity, equity, inclusion, and culture norms for CIS of Chicago.

Our History

In 1988, Communities In Schools began an affiliate in Chicago to help children become more successful in school and in life by connecting community-based organizations, hospitals, and universities with schools.

Our formalized Partnership Program began in the mid-1990s, linking community-based support programming to schools and students in need.

And our Intensive Program was first piloted at one school site during the 2009-10 academic year. The number of Intensive Program sites increased to 30 in the 2020-21 academic year.

Most notably, CIS of Chicago has substantially increased the number of students served annually since our organization’s inception over 30 years ago. In the mid-1990s, CIS of Chicago reached roughly 12,000 young people annually, and in the 2020-21 school year, we reached more than 47,000 students.

Join our Inspiring Change Giving Circle today and become a changemaker.

Help us respond to the emerging needs of students and continue to surround them with a community of support. Giving Circle members receive exclusive benefits, such as event invites, curated newsletters, and more.

*Thanks to a generous group of donors, the first $40,000 donated will be matched from now through December 31, 2021 at 11:59 p.m.!