Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County is part of a national network of Communities in Schools programs, with an overriding goal being to produce good trends in high school dropout rate statistics.  Founded in 1992, Communities in Schools of Tarrant County (CIS) now serves over 30 schools in multiple districts across the county.  In the early 1990s, two high schools in Fort Worth, TX had a dropout rate of over 50%, leading volunteers from a United Way Stay-In-School task force to study the dropout problem.  It was discovered that the list of reasons for students dropping out of high school ran the gamut, and it was soon decided that the best remedy for the situation was for the county to adopt a CIS program.

The Need For Communities In Schools Of Greater Tarrant County

According a 2002 Employment Policy Foundation study cited by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, high school graduates, on average, earn over $9,000 more per year than high school dropouts.  A 2003 Department of Labor study showed that the unemployment rate for those that dropped out of school between October 2001 and October 2002 was almost 30%!

Each year's class of dropouts will cost the country over $200 billion in lost earnings and unrealized tax revenues during their lifetimes.  The estimated economic cost for males aged 25-34 who dropped out of high school is almost $1 trillion.

It is not just financial resources that are affected by dropping out of high school.  75% of state facility inmates are high school dropouts.  59% of federal prison inmates are high school dropouts.

Lastly, the U.S. death rate for those with fewer than 12 years of education is 2.5 times higher than those with at least 13 years of education.[2547]

The high school dropout rate statistics are alarming, and they affect us all, not just those that leave high school early.  This is what makes an organization like Communities in Schools so important.  With intense intervention that addresses the causes of dropping out of high school, these an other eye-opening statistics can be averted.

Students Served By Communities In Schools Of Greater Tarrant County

When CIS first began, the program focused solely on high school students.  However, the factors that lead a student to drop out of school often begin much earlier than 9th grade.  Because of this, CIS has now expanded into middle schools and elementary campuses throughout Tarrant County.

Social workers work individually and in group sessions to address the causes of drop out rates.  Whether it be poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, family problems, low self-esteem, violence, or any other negative aspect of a student's life, the CIS staff member on site can address the problem and hopefully erase that barrier from a student receiving his or her high school diploma.

In addition to working directly with the staff social worker, students work on having positive interactions with others in group settings.  The staff member will also occasionally bring in outside organizations to speak to students.

Perhaps the most important aspect of CIS students is that the student is not necessarily the one that seeks out help.  The onsite CIS staff member reaches out directly to students and teachers to help identify students that could potentially benefit from the program.  This helps students who are either shy, embarrased, or insecure be able to get the assistance they need.

The Staff Of Communities In Schools Of Greater Tarrant County

As mentioned, Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County has onsite staff members at each school that is served by the program.  The staff member is a has a degree in social work, and many of the social workers are Masters level.

The onsite staff members are supervised by licensed social workers with years of experience with CIS and other similar programs.  These supervisors work to make sure the program is attaining its goal of reducing high school drop out rate statistics, as well as complying with state regulations.

Funding For Communities In Schools Of Greater Tarrant County

Communities in Schools of Tarrant County is funded through contributions from individuals and corporations, government grants, and contracts from its client school districts.  In 2011, 37% of funds came from contributions, 22% came from government grants, and 41% came from contracts.[2542]

CIS has attained United Way partnership status and receives funding from the organization.

Results That Communities In Schools Of Greater Tarrant County Produces

CIS has continually proven that it succeeds in lowering the high school dropout statistic rate.  In 2008 results of an independent research study showed that only CIS had research showing that it both lowered high school dropout rates and increased graduation rates.

The 2009-2010 CIS School Year Program states that out of 3,148 intensely case managed students, the stay in school rate was 99%.  Other highlights include:

  • 82% improved their grades
  • 94% improved their behavior
  • 68% improved their attendance
  • 86% promoted
  • 71% went to post-secondary school[2546]

Remember, these are not the statistics of the school in general.  These represent the statistics of the most at-risk students in the schools.

The organization's staff has consistently won awards over the last two decades, including Best Charities, Best CIS Staff Member, and Best Annual Fundraiser.

Of course, the best award of all is seeing at-risk students graduate high school and become productive members of society.

Communities In Schools Of Greater Tarrant County Continues To Move Forward

CIS is the only single-purpose stay-in-school program in Tarrant County.  As of this writing, Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County is in 36 schools in 8 school districts.  The demand from other schools and districts is high, but unfortuately, like many non-profit charitable organizations, the funding is low.  However, CIS continues to raise awareness of its programs and the importance of keeping kids from dropping out of school.

The personal and economic impacts of dropping out of school are so drastic that it is imperative that organizations like Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County be able to continue their work of lowering high school droput rate statistics.