More than 20,000 Denton and Wise County public school students are in at-risk situations for failure and of dropping out of school. With the help of Communities in Schools of North Texas (CISNT), part of the nation's largest dropout prevention network, many will beat the odds this year and stay in school. CISNT, a non-profit administered through guidelines by the Texas Education Agency(TEA), is part of an innovative national approach established to combat the dropout problem.
CISNT believes that personalism, accountability and the coordination of services are essential to meeting the needs of youth in at-risk situations. The CISNT model includes:
The Five CISNT Basics
Every child needs and deserves:
The Six Components
The History of Communities In Schools
On the streets of New York City in the 1960s, a youth worker named Bill Milliken and his colleagues launched a series of “street academies” that attempted to help young people, who had dropped out of school, complete their education and go on to college. In 1977, Milliken and his colleagues shifted their focus inside the school system and Communities In Schools was born (then called “Cities In Schools”).
This fledgling organization started out strong and was supported by newly elected President Jimmy Carter. Carter was a supporter of the CIS prototype during his term as Georgia governor. His influence aided in CIS’s expansion to include serving nearly 3,000 students in Atlanta, Indianapolis, and New York. By 2004, CIS grew to serve nearly 1,000,000 students across 28 states in over 3,000 schools.
CIS in Texas
The first Texas CIS program came to Houston in 1979. During 1984, Governor Mark White launched an effort to overhaul the public education system in Texas. White adopted CIS as one of his Exemplary Youth Programs. As a result, the CIS program was expanded in Texas to Austin, Dallas, El Paso and San Antonio. The dropout rate for Texas in 1985 was estimated to be nearly 36%. Equally important, the cost for these dropouts in Texas was estimated to be $17.2 billion over the course of their lifetime.
During the next legislative session, an interim committee was formed to study ways to reduce the dropout rate in Texas. The study found dropout rates were 27% for whites, 34% for African-Americans, and 45% among Hispanics. Similarly, 90% of Texas inmates were dropouts, and 67% of adults below the poverty line had no high school diploma.
Deeply concerned about these findings, the Texas Legislature turned to the CIS program. CIS believed that the coordination of community services was essential to meeting the needs of at-risk youth. The committee, recognizing that CIS services were provided inside the school, felt this program could most effectively address the dropout problem in Texas. Steadily, the Texas Legislature appropriated funding each session to partially fuel the expansion of CIS program across the state. By 2005, 27 Texas CIS programs existed, serving more than 350,000 at-risk youth in over 600 schools.
Communities In Schools of North Texas is Born
In response to the quiet but growing dropout problem in Denton and Wise counties, Communities In Schools of North Texas (then “Communities In Schools of Denton County”) was founded in 1994. By 1998 CISNT served 8 schools and by 2002, 11 schools. For the 2012-13 school year, CISNT has deployed 40 full time dropout prevention professionals and over 100 part time staff across 29 schools. A locally governed 501(C)(3) non profit organization, CISNT is led by a diverse Board of Directors that represents the diverse ethnic, educational, geographic and professional composition of the communities we serve.
Called “One of the 100 Charities Most Likely to Save the World” by Worth Magazine, Communities In Schools of North Texas has a legacy that spans nearly 50 years. Each day, CISNT diligently seeks partnerships that will allow for more at-risk youth to achieve in life.