After 12 years of providing programs and services to Lee County students, Communities In Schools (CIS) has decided to dissolve its operations by the end of the summer. In 2004, Lee County was granted affiliation to become an operational Communities In Schools program. The mission of CIS is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Since that time the organization has worked hand in hand with schools, teachers and administration to bring needed resources and programs into the school. More than 10,000 Lee County students have received services or taken part in a CIS program in just the last five years. After thorough appraisal of the organization’s financial situation, Communities In Schools Board of Directors, with support from its Executive Director, voted on Tuesday, May 10 to dissolve. The board will remain intact and engaged through the dissolution process.
The model of funding CIS was a mix of grants, individual donations and fundraising efforts that has been slowly decreasing for the past few years and is now at a point where the organization cannot sustain itself.
“This decision was made in order to be responsible and respectful to our donors, our stakeholders and the youth we serve,” said Executive Director Heather McKenzie. “We’ve come to the very tough and very heartfelt decision with these students in mind. Over the past two years, many measures were taken to reduce our organizational costs. Unfortunately, it was not enough to sustain the organization any longer. I am forever grateful and humbled for the opportunity to serve this community for the last six years. It has been an honor and a privilege; and one I will miss deeply.”
The board of directors wanted to make sure that the CIS BackPack Pal program – a weekend feeding program for students who might come from food insecure households – would still continue. Communities In Schools is happy to announce the BackPack Pals will continue to survive and be housed under the Christians United Outreach Center (CUOC) nonprofit. All designated BackPack Pal funds, as well as any and all other financial assets of CIS will be transferred to CUOC to help with the cost of sustaining the BackPack Pal program. “I brought BackPack Pals to CIS nine years ago as a volunteer and it was important to keep that program alive. CUOC will be a great home for it and I’m thankful to their board of directors and the Executive Director, Theresa Dew, for taking it own for the 2016-2017 school year,” said Heather McKenzie.
Communities In Schools would like to thank the community for the 12 great years of supporting the mission of student success. The countless volunteers, board members and community partners who have helped make our mission a reality for thousands of children in Lee County will forever be in our hearts.