Communities In Schools® (CISTM) announced today that philanthropist MacKenzie Scott has made a transformative $133.5 million gift to the Communities In Schools network, the largest, unrestricted gift in CIS history. This unprecedented gift includes a collective $5.85 million given to Communities In Schools of Washington and three Washington state CIS affiliates: CIS of Benton-Franklin, CIS of Peninsula and CIS of Renton-Tukwila.

This unrestricted gift allows us to combat the inequities in public education and reimagine the way schools operate and show up for all students.

“We believe these gifts speak to our record of proven success in building sustainable systems of support inside public schools by putting students in the center and surrounding them with a caring community,” said CIS Washington State Director Erin McCallum. “It also speaks to our work striving for educational and racial equity, which was clearly important to this donor.”

At a time when the global pandemic has particularly hurt students with fewer community resources or adequate supports, this investment will help CIS to carry out its mission to break down the systemic barriers that stand in the way of opportunity and student success.

“We are grateful this amazing gift will help us to strengthen our CIS Network and Youth Development partners across Washington so that we are able to empower every student in our state to break through the personal challenges that stand between them and an equitable path to education,” McCallum said. “With fifteen CIS affiliates working locally and regionally across Washington State with schools and community partners, we want to ensure students have what they need to realize their full potential in school and beyond.”

For decades, Communities In Schools has demonstrated measurable success in student outcomes. During the 2020-2021 school year, 99 percent of students enrolled in CIS programs remained in school through the end of the school year, with 96 percent of K-11 students being promoted to the next grade and 93 percent of seniors graduating or receiving a GED. “But with over 1.1 million Washington students the need is great, and we must do more,” added McCallum.

CIS believes that transformative relationships are key to unlocking a student’s potential. Our school-based staff works inside schools partnering with teachers and parents to help address the needs of students. Working with schools and local service providers, CIS coordinates critical resources for students and families including food, housing, healthcare, counseling, access to remote technology, all while supporting students in their school attendance, behavior and academics. By identifying the points of challenge for students in their personal lives, CIS staff helps to empower students to move beyond the barriers they face in the school building and in the community.

“Today is an important day for students who are underserved, under-resourced, and in need of support to build a brighter future,” said Rey Saldaña, President and CEO of Communities In Schools nationally. “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.”