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CIS of Chicago Receives $4 Million Gift from Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott

Scott’s Award Strengthens CIS of Chicago’s Mission Supporting 50,000 CPS Students at 175 Schools To Overcome Barriers to Learning

CIS of Chicago, one of the city’s largest education nonprofits working to ensure every Chicago Public Schools student has the support they need to overcome barriers and succeed in school, has received a major $4 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The award is included in an even larger gift by Scott to the national Communities In Schools Network.

In a time when the global COVID pandemic has created unparalleled challenges for Chicago students and families, including experiences of social isolation, economic crisis, stress, and trauma, Ms. Scott’s investment will help CIS of Chicago continue breaking down the systemic barriers to opportunity and success for tens of thousands of Chicago Public Schools students each year.

“This gift, from one of the world’s most astute and influential philanthropists, further validates the importance of our team’s work supporting 50,000 students each year,” said CIS of Chicago CEO Jane Mentzinger. “Ms. Scott’s philanthropy consistently reflects her commitment to promoting equity for all students. That’s exactly what CIS of Chicago is about,” added Mentzinger.

Mentzinger says this gift ensures that CIS of Chicago is able to sustain, for multiple years, its:

  • Coordination of an array of community-based prevention and enrichment services to students and families at 175 CPS schools across Chicago;
  • Provision of targeted interventions like counseling and supportive guidance to more than 1,000 students at heightened risk of falling off track academically;
  • Training and certification of teachers, parents, or any adult in Youth Mental Health First Aid so that they can act as first responders for students experiencing a mental health crisis; and
  • Response to students’ and families’ emerging needs during the past two years of the pandemic.

For nearly 35 years, CIS of Chicago has demonstrated measurable success in student outcomes. In the current academic year, CPS students and their families have been given access to an array of essential supports – from mental health and wellness programming to arts and enrichment opportunities. In addition, nearly all of the 1,350 high-need students served by CIS of Chicago clinicians will receive one-on-one support this year, helping them to stay on track in school and on the path to graduation.

CIS of Chicago’s school-based staff works inside schools and establishes one-on-one relationships with students to help them overcome obstacles they face inside the classroom, at home, and in the community. CIS of Chicago’s Partnership Team coordinates with schools and local service providers to meet the needs of students and families and provide critical resources, like food, housing, healthcare, counseling, access to remote technology, and more so that students and educators can focus on academics.

A core belief of all Communities In Schools affiliates, including the local Chicago chapter, is that transformative relationships are key to unlocking a student’s potential. CIS of Chicago staff and community partners coordinate with schools to improve school climate; boost the social-emotional wellbeing of students, teachers, and staff; and reduce barriers to academic success.

“Today is an important day for students who are underserved, under-resourced, and in need of supports to build a brighter future,” said Rey Saldaña, President and CEO of Communities In Schools National. “This unrestricted gift allows us to combat the inequities in public education and reimagine the way schools operate and show up for all students. Our National goal is to bring our model inside of every one of the 70,000 Title I-eligible schools in the country. Currently, we operate in 3,000 schools – so we still have a long way to go, and we will need ongoing support to get there,” he added.



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