Communities In Schools (CIS) began in the 1970’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Bill Milliken, CIS National Founder

Bill Milliken, CIS Founder and now Vice Chairman, helped create “street academies,” storefront alternative schools in Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant funded by major New York City corporations. Under Milliken’s vision and leadership, CIS became a leader in building strategic partnerships and facilitating the connection of existing health, education, and social service resources and bringing those resources into the schools where they were accessible, coordinated and accountable.

“It’s relationships, not programs, that change children.”   – Bill Milliken

“It’s relationships, not programs, that change children,” Milliken often said.  “A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they also have a sense of belonging to a caring community.”

CIS Comes to Charlotte
Former CIS-Charlotte Executive Directors with CIS National Founder Bill Milliken. (L-R): Bill Anderson (2006-2010); Marian Yates (Interim ED, Dec. 2010– Mar. 2011); Molly Shaw (2011-2020); Milliken; and Cynthia Marshall (Charlotte founding ED, 1985-2006).

In 1984, Milliken was invited to by the Junior League of Charlotte to visit Charlotte and share the Communities In Schools concept with League members and local business executives. Fifteen area corporations helped launch the local program under the leadership and support of Dr. Jay Robinson, then Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools superintendent; Jim Babb, co-chair of the Ad-hoc Task Force on School Dropouts; Ed Crutchfield, Chairman and then CEO of First Union National Bank (now Wells Fargo Corporation); and Jack Tate, a retired First Union executive. Fifty chief executives of major corporations agreed to support the new organization as members of the Board of Trustees. They, in turn, elected 24 individuals to serve on a Board of Directors that held the responsibility for running the organization. Cynthia Marshall was hired as the first Executive Director in 1985, and Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg became a reality.

In 1986, J. T. Williams Junior High School was the first school in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district to offer CIS services; 80 students received services that year. Today, CIS-Charlotte provides targeted case management services to 6,000+ students annually in grades K-12 in 54 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Another 28,000+ students receive less intensive services such as in-kind resources, cultural enrichment, college/career awareness and more.

CIS-Charlotte was the first CIS program in North Carolina. Today there is a state office in Raleigh and 25 CIS affiliates across the state.  Nationwide, the national Communities In Schools network has grown to include 161 affiliates in 25 states and Washington, D.C. providing support to more than 1.5 million students and their families. Visit the national Communities In Schools website to learn more.