Canaries in a Coal Mine

The last thing we need is another pundit with an opinion on how to curb the growing incidents of violence on school campuses. As parents, teachers, anyone interacting with school age children, we hold our breath with every breaking story, and hope that our Dallas community is the exception.

In reality, perhaps we need to increase direct conversation about the pressure cooker that our school ecosystems have become, where every day they are asked to do more with less. Ask an adult and a child the same question, about how safe they feel on campus, and you will get two very different answers. Unfortunately, unlike other disparities in education, we cannot place a racial, income or neighborhood label on this problem. It’s an issue that unites us across all demographics, which is why we need to tuck in our chins and address the youth sub-culture we shrug off, because we can’t relate to them.

You may not have heard of Communities In Schools (CIS) because our best work is done off the radar, away from the spotlight of whichever educational approach is trending.  CIS is a statewide intervention program working in partnership with school districts with one task – serving at-risk students who show behavioral signs of crisis, which in turn impact school attendance and eventually academic performance. Our job is to help build resilience in kids that are bullied, confused, angry or alone, but also address the bully, check in with parents at home, and coach alternative behaviors by building a relationship with as many students as possible. Our work is hands on, intentional and often heartbreaking as we talk to students every day about issues we, as adults, can barely fathom.

In the last two years, we have reinforced the fact that we don’t do it all alone and formalized a consortium of our service partners (C3), meeting regularly to compare notes on trends in student behavior, family needs and available resources. CIS is also a certified training site in Youth Mental Health First Aid, which provides non-clinicians with the 8-hour awareness course for the nominal cost of the take away manual. For over 30 years, we have been that little-known entity acting as an early warning indicator to identify, assess, mentor, connect and re-direct a child into a safe and productive state of mind. But like many programs this amazing city holds, they won’t work if we don’t implement them.

This year, you will find your local CIS quietly housed on 58 K – 12 campuses, in 9 school districts and 4 counties. In collaboration with brilliantly dedicated teachers and faculty, we’re an additional set of sharp eyes, tuned ears and open hearts to draw attention to situations that might be otherwise dismissed as “not a big deal”. We invite you to be an active participant in the lives of children you know, and maybe even some you don’t. Attend a CIS community training, follow our posts on social media for tips and insight, or visit the website to learn more. Our community may not have all the answers to preventing the threats plaguing our kids, but we CAN start asking the right questions and give it a run for its money.

Our C3 group will host a free candid community discussion around school climate, safety and students in crisis. Not about guns, but what brings a child to the point where this is an option and what can we do to prevent another tragedy. Join us at 9am on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 1341 W Mockingbird Ln, concourse level conference room, Dallas, TX 75247. If you’d like to attend, please register here, or contact us at

Our hearts, prayers and love go out to Parkland, Florida. In the wake of yet another tragic school shooting, CISDR’s C3 group will host a free candid community discussion around school climate, safety and students in crisis. Not about guns, but what brings a child to the point where this is an option and what can we do to prevent another tragedy. Join us at 9am on Thursday, March 8, 2018 at 1341 W Mockingbird Ln, Concourse Conference Room, Dallas, TX 75247. If you’d like to attend, please register here, or contact us at

Every year, Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR) releases a visual retrospective of our most recent accomplishments. Complete with narratives, photos and numbers, we do our best to summarize what we have done to impact the lives of the thousands of students we have served. The annual reports below serve as an introduction to the Communities In Schools model and mission. Each is a snapshot of staff dedication, immeasurable board commitment and an unyielding drive to stem the tide of children without a chance.

2016-2017 Annual Report

2016-17 CISDR Annual Report Cover

Previous Annual Reports

2016-17 CISDR Annual Report 2015-2016 Annual Report
2014-2015 Annual Report
2013-14 CISDR Annual Report 2013-2014 Annual Report
2012-13 CISDR Annual Report 2013-2014 Annual Report

As we close out the 2017 year, we to thank everyone involved in the successes achieved by the students of Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc. (CISDR). Once again, CISDR has brought about meaningful improvements for the children we work with on a daily basis throughout the school year.

We couldn’t do this without the support of our donors, staff, community leaders, volunteers and our collaborative and service partners.

During the 2016-2017 school year we supported 7,274 high need school children, 76% of which are living below the poverty line. These children achieved the following results:

  • 85% improved in academics, behavior and/or attendance
  • 89% were promoted to the next grade
  • 96% of the eligible seniors graduated and
  • 97% stayed in school.

CISDR strives to be a leader in education reform and continues to innovate our campus based interventions to serve the children, families and schools that need it most.

On November 14, 2017, Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region received 715 coats from Macy’s and Clothes4Souls in their fifth-annual Share the Warmth program. These coats were disbursed to 49 campuses across the DFW metropolitan area, creating a true and meaningful season of giving.

Seeing the smiles and appreciation filled the hearts of our CISDR Staff, teachers, and their families. Parents do not have to worry about the cost of providing warmth to their children and their children are filled with joy and excitement, boosting self-esteem promoting success in the classroom. Others who witness this giving become inspired to share in the joy of giving. One coat given can change hundreds of lives.

C3 – Collaborate. Communicate. Coordinate.

Communities In Schools has had a presence in the Dallas area since 1985, working with the under-served populations of school children in grades K–12 in need of extra assistance. Under mandate of the Texas Education Agency, CISDR is required to work with the students listed on a campus “at-risk” list, meaning children who are in crisis and most likely not complete the school year.

Over the course of 30+ years, we recognized that education is best served as a public/private partnership, embracing and promoting the skills and assets of this amazing Dallas community. In 2017, we put that into action by launching the C3 Consortium – CISDR service partners meeting as a group to discuss trends, student needs, challenges, and most importantly connecting to provide the most comprehensive, cost effective, inclusive and relevant services to the at-risk students in our area.

The C3 provides a wide range of services ranging from basic needs (food, clothing, etc) to college/career prep to intensive clinical services. By connecting to students/families via CISDR’s campus-based presence or as an external service resource, each entity is verified, vetted and thoroughly profiled to ensure alignment to the C3 mission and assess for service duplications.

Not only do the students and families we serve benefit, but the ability of the group to collaborate on projects, funding and a variety of other platforms among themselves, is also a C3 element. Our name explains it all – connecting the community to the schools who need it most!

For more information or to requesting a vetting appointment to join C3, please contact Monica Ordonez, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships & External Relations at 214.827.0955 ext 217 or

Current 2017 C3 Partners

Click on an entity to be directed to their web page.

After School All-Stars North Texas
Beacon Hill Preparatory Institute
City House
City Square
Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center
Dallas County Truancy Court
The Elisa Project
Essilor Vision Foundation
Excellence by Design, Education Center
Granny’s Place Ministries
Grant Halliburton Foundation
Hopes Door New Beginnings Center
Just Say YES
Mosaic Family Services
PEP It Up Parents
The Princeton Review
Reasoning Mind
Texas Can Academy

For C3 Members

To find recent meeting notes, handouts and resources, please visit our Drop Box (link coming soon.)

EOY 2016 Video – Mind the Gap from CIS of the Dallas Region on Vimeo.

Pictures from the 4th Annual CISDR Golf Tournament

Thank you to everyone who joined us for the 2015 Golf Tournament. Here are just a few pictures from the event.

Thank You to Our 2015 Sponsors

Title Sponsor


Presenting Sponsors

Alon USA
Hitachi Consulting

Platinum Sponsor


Gold Sponsors


Silver Sponsors

Dallas Childrens Charities
Duff and Phelps
El Centro College
Ernst and Young
Dr. Bonnie Martin & Associates
Riveron Consulting

Bronze Sponsors

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas
Fidelity Investments

Promotional Sponsors

Apartment Selectors
Avon Cleaners and the Godo Family
The Schleckser Family

In-Kind Sponsors

Chuck Clark Photography
Don Herring Mitsubishi
Hackberry Creek Country Club
Wells Fargo