The Kent Performance Learning Center , a partnership between Communities In Schools and the Kent School District graduated 26 students last week. Twenty-six young people who, prior to enrolling at the center, would likely have dropped out of school.
David Winn with retired Kent School District Superintendent, Dr. Barbara Grohe
The center is based on a small schools model where students who are struggling in the traditional class room get more individualized help. “Each student has a teacher they can talk to – anytime – instead of being in a class with 30 people,” says Josh Albertson a senior at the center.
Added to individualized academic help is the non-academic service connection that distinguishes the Communities In Schools approach. Says Ginger Colamussi, the center’s services coordinator, “Many of our students are here because they have a lot going on in their lives. By providing them with social services and connecting them with a caring adult mentor, we can really set our students up for success.”
PLC Graduate with his mentor, Mark Albertson
And success it is for students like Adelaida Ochoa who not only has become the first in her family to graduate high school but will also attend college in the fall. And for Donald Stevenson, who on the verge of dropping out two years ago, became a full-time Running Start student at Green River Community College.
Perhaps no one says it best other than graduate David Winn: “Everyone is responsible for their own success. You have to do the work. This program provided the opportunity and the staff and the community provided additional resources. But it was up to me to have the right attitude. Now I finally believe that I’ve got what it takes to succeed!”
Good luck to all you wonderful graduates! You’ve got great years ahead of you and we look forward to your continued success.
To learn more about the Kent Performance Learning Center check out this video.
We are proud to announce our founder, Bill Milliken, received the 2009 National Jefferson Award for Public Service, in the category of Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged.
“I am touched and honored to receive this award. Caring about young people is not just a job, it’s a calling, and it is the foundation of all that we do at Communities In Schools,” said Milliken. “Each year, one out of three young people in America doesn’t gradate high school. This is a fundamental moral justice and civil rights issue that affects all of us, and it’s an issue that we cannot ignore.”
Milliken, one of the country’s leading youth advocates, began his work on the streets of Harlem before launching Communities In Schools in Atlanta in 1977. He has received numerous awards, and has authored several books, the most recent being The Last Dropout: Stop the Epidemic!
Regarded as the “Nobel Prize” for outstanding community and public service, the Jefferson Awards were founded in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and U.S. Senator Robert Taft. The awards are based on the simple but powerful premise that one person can make a difference in the lives of others.
Mariko Lockhart believes people can change.
She has to. The city of Seattle is betting $8 million it can dramatically reduce juvenile crimes in two years, and has handed the job to Lockhart, director of the city’s new Youth Violence Prevention Initiative.
“I’ve seen kids totally change their path and turn things around,” says Lockhart. Former director of Communities In Schools of New Jersey.
Mariko Lockhart, director of Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative
Her favorite story of a teen turnaround involves a young man who was groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps dealing drugs in one of Newark’s most dangerous housing projects.
“We were able to get him a summer internship with a suburban housing developer. He got hands-on experience and got to see wealthy suburban houses. It had a huge impact on him,” she says of the young man who went on to pursue a master’s degree in construction management.
The best part, Lockhart says, is this: The young man was on his way to take his SATs when he was stopped by police, who pulled out their guns and demanded to know where he was going. They didn’t believe his SAT story — until he pulled out his No. 2 pencil, she says.
“You can’t overestimate the odds these kids are working to beat,” says Lockhart.
Excerpted from the Seattle Times, June 21, 2009.
As we approach the end of our fiscal year we are gathering and recording in-kind donations received over the past year – donated services rather than (or in addition to) donated cash. While this is something our accountant insists on, it’s also a good gauge of support for our cause beyond hard cash.
One of our major (and longest standing) media partners, Comcast Cable, has for the past three years donated approximately $100,000 each year in television placements for our public service announcements (otherwise known as commercials). Imagine our surprise today when we learned that for our 2008-09 fiscal year that amount had grown to an astonishing $230,000! Wow!
We are so fortunate to have a partner like Comcast. Over the past few years their support has not only raised our profile – tremendously – their donated PSAs have fueled volunteer recruitment, funding opportunities and encouraged more and more people to get involved in their communities.
Something to consider the next time you’re paying your cable bill.
Visit the Communities In Schools website.
To great success Communities In Schools of Peninsula completed the first in a planned series of five-week parenting classes. “Love and Logic” teaches simple, practical techniques for parents to raise responsible children. The well-attended classes are facilitated by trained counselors and use a nationally accredited curriculum and include free dinner and child care.
Key Peninsula parents at the Love and Logic class
The classes give parents tools to communicated clearly, provide direction for their families and make sound choices in caring for their children. And the curriculum is based on giving kids choices – that most interactions involve a choice. “For example,” says one parent, “I say ‘You are welcome to stay at the dinner table if you can speak calmly,’ or ‘You may take a shower tonight or get up 15 minutes early to take it in the morning.’ And I am OK with whatever he chooses.”
Communities In Schools of Peninsula will offer the “Love and Logic” classes on a regular basis based on community interest. If you would like to attend the next series please contact Laurel Shultz at email@example.com for more information.
Story was excerpted from the Peninsula Gateway.
This morning I attended a benefit breakfast for Neighborhood House, a local nonprofit helping our poor and recent immigrant populations access education, housing and community services. A tremendous local asset doing inspiring work in King County.
Just as inspiring was the keynote speaker, Rey Ramsey, CEO of One Economy, a national group working to level the playing field by bringing broadband access to our most disenfranchised citizens.
Mr. Ramsey told a story of a group of 30 young men in Eastern Oregon he had just met. He called them the discarded boys – high school students who, because of poor performance and behavioral issues, had been kicked out of every school in their county. They had been discarded by their community.
But these kids aren’t stupid or malicious. They’re victims of circumstance – growing up in rotting trailers, never having had any sort of higher expectation – high school graduation, much less college – placed on them. Ever. They grew up with an expectation of failure, not success. Growing up hearing NO instead of YES.
One Economy opened what we call a “school within a school“, a separate space where these young men could come together without the judgments of those who had all along told them NO. Where they could share their frustrations, their challenges and their aspirations. Where they could begin to hear YES – yes I am worthy, yes I am smart, yes I can contribute.
Mr. Ramsey told a story of lives transformed. Sure, not all of them are going to make it. But many will graduate and many will go on to community college. They’ll become contributing members of their communities – not a drain on resources. And they’ll pass along to others who are used to hearing no – YES, yes you can.
Who have you said yes to lately?
Visit the Communities In Schools website at http://ciswa.org.