Charlotte, NC – Communities In Schools National Founder and Vice Chairman Bill Milliken was the featured speaker at a “Partners for Success Celebration Coffee” on Monday, October 4 at Christ Episcopal Church in Charlotte. Supporters and partners of Communities In Schools attended, including invited guests from the faith community and local businesses.
Milliken shared the story of how Communities In Schools (CIS) began in the 1970’s, when as a youth advocate mentoring youth on the streets of Harlem in New York, Milliken came up with the idea to bring community resources to students in a public school setting – where they are accessible, coordinated, and accountable. Today CIS has become the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization and serves more than 1.3 million of the nation’s most vulnerable students in 3,400 schools across the country, including 43 schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
But Milliken emphasized that it’s “people, not programs, that make the difference.” “Young people need hope, said Milliken,” and every child needs a personal relationship with a caring adult. If students don’t have hope, they’re going to do one of two things – hurt you, or hurt themselves.”
Milliken went on to call the nation’s dropout crisis – where 1.2 million young people drop out of high school every year – “the biggest moral and economic issue of our time.” “It’s a justice issue, a civil rights issue,” he added.
Milliken compared the CIS program and its school-based site coordinator to a conductor leading an orchestra, where all of the various instruments are playing in harmony with each other. Milliken encouraged guests and especially those representing Charlotte’s faith community to be that “orchestra” and bring their own special gifts into a school to surround that school with the support it needs.
“We are either going to win or lose the future of America at the schoolhouse door,” said Milliken.
The event was sponsored by Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, with support from Social Venture Partners Charlotte and Crossroads Charlotte through a grant from Charlotte Mecklenburg Community Foundation.
Corporate, civic, and faith-based groups interested in learning how they can most effectively support Charlotte’s most vulnerable students and most challenged schools, please contact Communities In Schools and its “Partners for Success” program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-943-9707.
About Bill Milliken
Milliken is one of the nation’s foremost pioneers in the movement to give young people the help they need to achieve in school, graduate and go on to rewarding lives. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Milliken’s commitment to children. He has been honored with numerous awards through the years, including a 2009 National Jefferson Award for Public Service from the American Institute for Public Service. He is the author of three books, So Long, Sweet Jesus; Tough Love; and The Last Dropout: Stop the Epidemic. He is at work on his fourth book, due out in early 2011.
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