At Communities In Schools of Memphis, we work to remove the non-academic barriers that prevent student success in the classroom. In partnership with local school districts, we provide daily school-based interventions to students in grades preK–12 to address chronic absenteeism, academic failure, behavioral issues, social service needs and more.

CIS of Memphis is a part of the national Communities In Schools (CIS) network. For over 40 years, CIS has worked to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. The story of CIS began in the 1970s, when founder Bill Milliken, then a youth advocate in New York City, came up with the idea of bringing community resources inside public schools – where they are accessible, coordinated, and accountable.

“It’s relationships, not programs, that change children. A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they also have a sense of belonging to a caring community.”

- Bill Milliken
Founder & Vice Chairman of Communities In Schools, Inc.

In Memphis and Shelby County, many children are living in poverty and face enormous challenges outside of the classroom. Without community support, they are more at risk for missing school, dropping out, and failing to earn a high school diploma.

Our school-based staff, known Student Support Specialists (or Site Coordinators), partner with teachers to identify challenges that students face in class or at home and implement our unique model to coordinate with community partners to bring outside resources inside the school. From immediate needs like food or clothing to more complex ones like counseling or emotional support, we do whatever it takes to help students come to school, stay in school, and remain on track to graduation.

Today, CIS of Memphis serves 8,485 students in 16 schools in the Shelby County and Achievement School Districts. For the 2017-2018 academic year, our site coordinators provided 22,463 targeted services to students, putting in more than 20,372 case management hours.  By helping our most vulnerable students, we are building stronger, healthier, and more economically stable communities where every person is capable of reaching his or her greatest potential. Whether the identified need is food, school supplies, health care, counseling, academic assistance or a positive role model, CIS of Memphis is there to help.



How We Do It

Our evidence-based model brings resources inside of schools – easily accessible and customized to individual students and local communities. We are guided by a set of 5 basic principles that we believe every child needs and deserves to be successful. Our Student Support Specialists establish strategic plans to address the needs of the school community and its most vulnerable students. They are responsible for identifying the barriers that students face and strategically aligning and delivering needed resources so that teachers can teach and students can focus on learning.

The 5 Basics

Communities In Schools believes that every child needs and deserves these five essentials:


A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult


A safe place to learn and grow


A healthy start for, and a healthy future


A marketable skill to use upon graduation


A chance to give back to peers and the community