Arlington, Va. - Communities In Schools, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to empowering students to stay in school and achieve in life, announced today it has been awarded a three-year investment of up to $6 million, with a first-year award of $2.25 million, from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF) and the Social Innovation Fund. Communities In Schools will use this investment to increase the evidence of its effectiveness and its organizational capacity to expand so it can serve many more young people in need, and help them become productive, successful adults.
Communities In Schools will also be an inaugural member of a new fund established by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation called the True North Fund. This fund is the launch vehicle for an innovative public/private partnership of the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the Social Innovation Fund, and institutional and individual philanthropic co-investors. The fund’s goal is to bring together the capital that nonprofits – that have strong evidence of their programs’ effectiveness and poised to expand significantly – require to make an impact on the lives of more young people and build a stronger body of evidence about “what works” to help youth succeed in life. The name of the fund reflects the inspiration EMCF believes organizations like Communities In Schools and this funding model can provide for helping our nation’s most economically disadvantaged young people overcome the obstacles that confront them, discover a sense of direction and purpose in their lives, and steer a course to productive, independent, successful adulthood.
Ashlin, a young woman from South Carolina, exemplifies the young people Communities In Schools serves. When Christopher “Kit” Fox, a Communities In Schools site coordinator, first met Ashlin, the 16-year-old was sitting in a corner crying because other students had been bullying her and spreading stories about her promiscuity, pregnancy and poverty. Ashlin was failing her classes. She had a five-month-old baby without diapers. Ashlin’s mother was in the intensive care unit for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and on a ventilator. The power company was going to turn off the family’s electricity.
Kit swung into action. He was able to provide Ashlin’s family with meals from the local food bank, school and winter clothes, and diapers and wipes for the baby. Toys for Tots donated Christmas gifts, and Basket Brigade made sure the family had a Thanksgiving meal. Kit also made sure Ashlin’s emotional needs were addressed by giving the teenager daily supportive guidance on topics such as goal setting, anger management and conflict resolution. He organized regular parent conferences, to make sure Ashlin’s entire family was working together to improve their lives.
Today, Ashlin and her baby are happy and healthy. The teenager is seeing a tutor and her grades are improving. In her free time Ashlin brainstorms ideas about how to help other girls at school who have ended up in situations similar to her own. South Carolina is one of the three states targeted for expansion of Communities In Schools through the Social Innovation Fund, along with North Carolina and California.
Communities In Schools was chosen in an open, national competition that drew 225 applications from leading nonprofits across the country. In selecting nine organizations for awards totaling up to $42 million over three years, EMCF relied on a rigorous, in-depth due diligence process to identify a mix of programs with great potential to help larger numbers of economically disadvantaged youth, ages 9-24.
The Social Innovation Fund (SIF), established by Congress in 2010 through the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, is a public-private partnership that uses private intermediaries to support the expansion of innovative, transformative social programs proven to promote economic opportunity, healthy lives and youth development. In establishing the True North Fund, EMCF is leveraging its role as a SIF intermediary by combining federal funding with the private resources of the Foundation and other philanthropic co-investors. Through the fund, EMCF and its co-investors seek to draw greater philanthropic support for organizations like Communities In Schools and demonstrate how public and private dollars can be aggregated to help effective organizations attain greater impact and scale.
About Communities In Schools
Communities In Schools surrounds students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Through a school-based coordinator, Communities In Schools connects students and their families to critical community resources, tailored to local needs. Working in more than 3,400 schools in the most challenged communities, in 25 states and the District of Columbia, Communities In Schools serves nearly 1.3 million young people and their families every year. It has become the nation's leading dropout prevention organization, and the only one proven to both increase graduation rates and decrease dropout rates. Visit our website at www.communitiesinschools.org.
About the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation
The Edna McConnell Clark Foundation seeks to advance opportunities for low-income youth by supporting organizations that help young people, ages 9–24, become independent, productive adults. EMCF concentrates on the most vulnerable and disconnected youth living in impoverished communities. EMCF believes large, long-term investments in nonprofits whose programs have been proven to produce positive outcomes and that have the potential for growth are an effective and efficient way to overcome the obstacles confronting low-income young Americans today. Its goal is to help develop a growing pool of organizations that serve thousands more youth each year with proven programs. For more information on EMCF, visit www.emcf.org.
About the Social Innovation Fund
The Social Innovation Fund, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), is a new federal program that addresses major challenges confronting communities by expanding high-impact nonprofit organizations delivering proven solutions. It brings together millions in public-private funds to expand effective community solutions across three issue areas: economic opportunity, healthy futures, and youth development and school support. This work will directly impact thousands of low-income families and create a catalog of proven approaches that can be replicated in communities across the country. For more information on the Social Innovation Fund, visit www.NationalService.gov/Innovation.