The Board of Directors of Family Connection-Communities In Schools of Athens (FC-CIS) has launched a campaign to raise $100,000 by December 31 to keep site coordinators in the high schools to continue to provide support for students at risk of dropping out.
“The site coordinators have been spectacularly successful,” commented executive director Tim Johnson. “We selected this model because research concluded that it is the most effective national dropout prevention program that has ever been scientifically evaluated. And it has been even more effective than we expected.”
The site coordinator is “an ‘extra man on the field’…if they identify a problem, then they’re looking for a solution” said Clarke Central High School science teacher Kimberlyn Jackson.
In 2016, through a generous 2-year grant from AT&T foundation, Family Connection – Communities In Schools of Athens was able to provide our high schools with site coordinators – the “extra man on the field’ – who can go beyond the support of a school administrator, guidance counselor or social worker. The five site coordinators we placed in three high schools provide three tiers of support to students:
- general support available to more than 3,000 students
- group support to students with various risk factors
- one-on-one support and case management to 275 highest risk students
Site coordinators ensure high school students have food over the weekend (via food pantries in the high schools), access to mentoring/tutoring services, clean clothes to wear, eyeglasses, and other supports. They make certain that student families receive support services – such as grief counseling or a voucher to keep the electricity on in their house.
The results: More than 95% of the students served stayed in school, and 97% of the juniors and seniors graduated on time (compared with an 80% overall CCSD graduation rate).
The site coordinator model works because it addresses the reality that, while what happens in the classroom is essential to student success, students and families who face the greatest challenges in the community must have additional support to achieve their potential. The success of the model has been validated by Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Education, among others.
Additionally, the Georgia Department of Audits concluded that the return on investment in site coordinators is $18 for every $1 invested. Those returns show up in a variety of ways, most importantly in the direct impact higher graduation rates have on improving the quality of our work force and lowering crime rates.
In the words of Sheila Dunham, Assistant Principal at Clarke Central High School, the site coordinators are successful because “they are experts at building relationships with the students…they track [student data] and get results. They are servant leaders at our school.”
To learn more about these servant leaders from the perspective of some of the students they serve, see http://fc-cis.org/site-coordinators/
The one-time, nonrenewable grant has ended. Other funds have been raised, but not enough to keep the site coordinators in the three public high schools through the end of the school year.
“We are compelled to ask our community for support because students deserve the support of site coordinators,” commented FC-CIS Board President Alice Kinman. “While we have secured gifts from local donors and businesses, more is required.”
“We are now launching a Save Our Site Coordinators Campaign to raise $100,000 by December 31,” added FC-CIS Board member Lucy Atkinson, who chairs the Board’s Resource Development Committee. “We need the community’s support.”
Atkinson called on community members to “donate generously by December 31, and please consider a monthly gift of any size.
“Remember: this student support system is only successful if community members like you continue to sustain it,” she added.
“Donors have many options of where to invest philanthropically: we feel certain that there is no more rewarding donation than an investment in our high school site coordinators,” added Kinman.
Donations are tax-deductible. Checks can be made out to FC-CIS and mailed to FC-CIS, PO Box 1904, Athens, GA 30603. Online donations can be made at http://fc-cis.org/donate/.