CIS-Charlotte and Vance High School win National “Awards of Excellence”

Charlotte, NC – Communities In Schools, one of the leading organizations dedicated to empowering students to stay in school and achieve in life, has selected Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg, through its partnership with Charlotte’s Project LIFT (“Leadership and Investment For Transformation”) as one of four recipients of the “Community of Excellence” award. The Award is a newly established national honor that spotlights successful efforts by local community partners to achieve collective impact through partnering with Communities In Schools. In addition, Charlotte’s Zebulon B. Vance High School was selected as one of five recipients nationwide of the “School of Excellence” award, a newly established national honor that highlights the successful implementation of the proven Communities In Schools model in a partner school.

“We were thrilled to receive the news of these two national awards of recognition,” said Molly Shaw, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. “We understand that our national office bestowed just 13 awards, and for our affiliate to have received two of them is very gratifying. More importantly, we are grateful to our partners, Project LIFT, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Vance High School, for their critical support of our program. We’re proud to share this recognition with them.”

Shaw added that community partners are vital to the work of Communities In Schools, and that partnering with Project LIFT has provided the support needed to delve deeper with students, as well as serve more students in the West Charlotte corridor (West Charlotte High School and its eight elementary/middle feeder schools). CIS-Charlotte was the first and only endorsed and funded community partner during the pilot year (2011) of the Project LIFT initiative, which allowed CIS-Charlotte to increase its existing programming presence in the Project LIFT zone schools, and that partnership continues today.

Denise Watts, Director of Project LIFT, noted that CIS-Charlotte is a key partner in the Project LIFT initiative. “By providing school-based, case management and intervention services that Communities In Schools does so well, CIS-Charlotte has and continues to play a crucial role in executing the Project LIFT mission to accelerate the improvement of academic outcomes of students at West Charlotte and its eight feeder schools, ” said Watts. “We’re proud to be included in this award recognition with CIS and look forward to continuing the partnership. Together, we can maximize the positive impact we’re having on students, families, and the West Charlotte community.”

CIS-Charlotte currently provides programming at 43 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, including Zebulon B. Vance High School, which received the “School of Excellence” Award from CIS National. CIS-Charlotte has partnered with Vance High School for 13 years and has had great support from CMS administrators and staff at Vance to fully implement and maximize CIS services at Vance. The Communities In Schools model places site coordinators inside partner schools to work with school staff to identify students at risk of not graduating. By assessing school and student needs, and establishing relationships with local businesses, social service agencies, health care providers and other community resource organizations, CIS site coordinators then can harness and deliver needed resources to help students achieve their full potential.

CMS Superintendent Dr. Heath Morrison stated, “On behalf of Zebulon B. Vance High School and its principal, Melissa Dunlap, we’re so pleased that Vance has been recognized by Communities In Schools as a national “School of Excellence,” especially as it is one of only five schools across the country so recognized.”

“I have great respect for Communities In Schools, and the local Charlotte affiliate has been a critical partner in the district’s efforts to improve student performance and increase graduation rates,” added Morrison. “The Charlotte community is fortunate to have this outstanding program in our schools.”

Representatives from CIS-Charlotte, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and Project LIFT, and three other Communities In Schools community partners from around the country will be presented with their awards during a special ceremony in Charlotte, N.C., in January 2014. The national office of Communities In Schools is hosting a “Communities In Schools Leadership Town Hall” for the CIS network of affiliates around the country and has selected Charlotte as the location.

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Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg is part of the national Communities In Schools (CIS) network, one of the nation’s leading dropout prevention organizations. The mission of Communities In Schools is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Through school-based site coordinators in 43 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, CIS-Charlotte provides case management services and connects 6,000+ students and their families to critical community resources, tailored to individual needs. Last year, CIS-Charlotte supported an additional 30,000 students through school-based programming and coordination of resources. CIS forms partnerships with human service agencies, businesses, civic groups, faith communities, and individual volunteers to connect students and families to the relationships and resources they need to be successful in school. Visit our website at www.cischarlotte.org.

May Johnston