Educational Institutions

Communities In Schools, Inc.

  • Arlington, VA

Mission Statement

Communities In Schools (CIS) is the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, with a mission to surround students with a community of support empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. For more than 30 years, CIS has connected needed community resources with schools. By bringing caring adults and a wide variety of services into schools to address children’s unmet needs, CIS provides a linkbetween educators and the community. The results of CIS’s model are that teachers are free to teach and students, many at risk of dropping out, have the opportunity to focus on learning. To help students stay in school, we identify and bring together in one place – public schools – all the resources and services available in the community that kids need to be successful. These services vary from one community to the next and from state to state and address specific needs such as academic support, mentoring, health care, family strengthening, career development, summer and after-school programs, alternative education models, and service learning. Today, the CIS network is comprised of nearly 5,000 passionate professionals working in close to 200 local affiliate nonprofits in 26 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 53,000 community volunteers, serving nearly than 1.5 million young people in more than 2,400 schools around the nation.

Main Programs

  1. CIS Programs
Service Areas



The Communities In Schools network is a federation of independent 501 (c) (3) organizations in 26 states and the District of Columbia, anchored by the national office in Northern Virginia, and coordinated, supported and expanded through the leadership of 18 state offices.

ruling year




Mr. Daniel Cardinali



K-12 Education, Graduation, Volunteers, At-risk Youth, Dropout, Mentors, Stay in School

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Also Known As

CIS, Inc.






Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

Children's and Youth Services (P30)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?


Self-reported by organization

CIS has a national track record of delivering results that lower dropout rates and improve graduation rates. CIS recently released the results of a five- year independent evaluation, conducted by one of the nation’s foremost social science evaluation firms. The evaluation concluded that Communities In Schools' model resulted in the strongest reduction in dropout rates of any existing fully scaled dropout prevention program that has been evaluated; that Communities In Schools is unique in having an effect on both reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates; and that the Communities In Schools model is effective across states, school settings, grade levels and student ethnicities.

In 2013 -2014, of the students receiving intensive support from CIS:
--> 99% of the identified at-risk students we serve remained in school    
--> 93% of students monitored advanced to the next grade    
--> The average annual cost per student is less than $200


Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

CIS Programs

The CIS network is a federation of independent 501(c)(3) organizations in 25 states and the District of Columbia, anchored by the national office in Alexandria, Va., and coordinated, supported and expanded through the leadership of 12 state offices. While the majority of the nearly 200 CIS local affiliates are in states with CIS state offices, there are also local affiliates in states without a state office. Nearly 1.25 million students are directly served by CIS.


Community Development

Population(s) Served

General Public/Unspecified



Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The United States’ education crisis can be summed up in one statistic: Every twenty-six seconds, a child drops out of school and into an uncertain future. Students whose academic, social service and basic life needs are not met often succumb to despair and frustration, even though they may be bright and fully capable of achieving in school.

    Communities In Schools' (CIS) mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. CIS works in the most economically challenged communities – 90+% of CIS students are eligible to receive free and reduced priced lunch; 80+% are racial minorities. By turning around schools where dropout rates are high due to poverty, and going to schools with high minority populations, CIS addresses the dropout crisis where it is most acute.

    CIS employs a proven model of Integrated Student Services (ISS). Our vision is to expand quality implementation of ISS to every state through a network of providers benefitting from CIS leadership and services and leveraging resources in their own communities.

    In 2012-2015, CIS will make a transformative investment to position the organization and ISS model to attract national, state, and local resources; produce an ROI of sustainable, measureable dropout prevention; and change the lives of children, families, and communities nationwide. We will:

    (1) Deepen delivery of services to at-risk youth: CIS will focus on the quality delivery and scope of services within 180+ existing CIS sites and on judicious and strategic expansion to new markets where there is great need and available resources; and where CIS can leverage involvement to engage policy makers and funders.

    (2) Continually improve quality: CIS will maintain the strongest evidence-based services for young people through sustainable, accredited, and effective non-profit affiliates, fielding certified site coordinators at the local level. We will continue to measure results through rigorous data collection and evaluation, and ensure quality through standards-setting, ongoing training, and our accreditation and certification programs.

    (3) Establish ISS as an education reform priority and build the field of ISS practice: CIS will create a funding and practice infrastructure to spread effective implementation of ISS to every state by embedding ISS as the preferred model of dropout prevention in Federal/state/local policy and funding, and positioning CIS nationwide as the recognized source of service provider training, information, standards, research, and accreditation.

    (4) Increase the visibility of CIS as a solution: Scaling up will be strongly supported by a nationwide communications effort to (a) position CIS as effectively addressing a major societal issue and transforming children’s lives through ISS; and (b) provide resources and materials to local affiliates to increase the visibility of their work and engage local stakeholders.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    CIS works inside school systems with superintendents, principals, educators, and other personnel, and forges community partnerships that bring resources into schools and remove barriers to learning. CIS addresses the total student—because students with unmet physical, psychological, and social needs cannot learn effectively—and the whole school environment. Our research has shown that attention to needs of both the entire school and the individual student is critical to reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates. A 5-year independent evaluation by ICF International found that CIS has the strongest reduction in dropout of any existing fully scaled dropout prevention program; is unique in having an impact on both reducing dropout rates and increasing graduation rates; and is effective across states, school settings (urban, rural and suburban), grade levels, and student ethnicities. CIS network data attest to this effectiveness on an annual basis. In the 2011-2012 school year, for example, 99% of CIS students served remained in school, 94% were promoted to the next grade, and 93% of seniors graduated on time.
    The core of program and service delivery is the school-based coordinator. Site coordinators tailor services to the needs of individual students, encompassing academic help, direct provision of health care, counseling, transportation, donated goods, mentoring, afterschool programs, and more. With leadership from the CIS national office and a network of state offices, CIS affiliates gather resources within their own communities to implement the school-based ISS program. The cash cost of implementation of the program averages less than $200 per child, because the affiliates are so successful at leveraging goods, services, and volunteer time.
    Our objectives over the next three years are: (1) Deliver the highest quality services by completing standards-based accreditation of all CIS affiliates and making all affiliates “comprehensive” sites that deliver both school-wide and individual case management services. (2) Expand the affiliate network strategically to high dropout communities where resources are available and which provide significant political and communications leverage toward the larger goal of nationwide high-quality implementation of ISS. (3) Enhance all affiliates’ capacity and sustainability through training, technical assistance, vigorous promotion of the CIS brand and message, network development, and technology resources. (4) Build a grassroots movement that will influence education policy, legislation, and budgeting at national, state, and local levels to direct significant public resources toward widespread implementation of the ISS model. (5) Increase the organizational capacity of CIS National to carry out these objectives and position the organization as the source of national leadership, quality control, technical assistance, information, and networking that will take the CIS model to scale nationwide.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    CIS comes to the dropout crisis with a proven model, a strong national network, committed staff and volunteers, diverse philanthropic support, and a strong management record. The CIS network is comprised of more than 4,000 passionate professionals in 26 states and the District of Columbia, as well as 70,000 community volunteers who serve 1.3 million young people in more than 2,000 schools. The network is the backbone of CIS success. The successful delivery of the ISS model depends on the skill, initiative, and effectiveness of dedicated staff and volunteer leadership in 187 CIS local affiliates and 12 state offices, and on their strong relationships with community and educational leaders. It also depends on the strong support of the CIS national office staff of approximately 50 who aggregate financial resources that are re-granted to affiliates; and provide information, training, network coordination, data collection and analysis, technical assistance, an influential voice in the national discussion of education reform, and state and local advocacy support.
    The CIS model and its organizational capacity were strongly endorsed in March 2011 by our selection to participate in an extraordinary philanthropic effort led by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation (EMCF). The Foundation created the True North Fund, which leverages federal Social Innovation Fund (SIF) public funds with EMCF funds and private money from other resources. To select True North grantees, EMCF conducted intensive due diligence and identified nine organizations from an applicant pool of 225; EMCF recognized CIS’s potential to lead a vast expansion of effective services that will reach the millions of additional students in “dropout factories” throughout the nation. The selection process for the True North Fund blended a deep qualitative and quantitative review of CIS’s program strength, our ability to use performance management data to improve performance, the strength of our current evidence base, and our overall commitment and capacity to build on that evidence base to expand to scale.
    Having been selected as a grantee in the True North portfolio, CIS becomes a partner with EMCF: (1) EMCF’s due diligence process and continued oversight sends a clear message that CIS’s model is effective, its business operations are sound, its growth plans are realistic, and it demonstrates a clear potential for significant return on philanthropic investment; (2) EMCF is working closely with CIS to leverage EMCF and SIF funds and aggregate additional capital over the next three years from institutional and individual philanthropic sources; and (3) EMCF provides ongoing guidance and counsel in structuring its investment to best serve the grantee’s needs and state of organizational readiness, including access to expert consultant assistance from the Bridgespan Group.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    The ICF International evaluation analyzed the CIS implementation of ISS and how the model has affected the students, families and communities where CIS operated in the period from 2005 to 2010. ICF employed a rigorous integrated research design to evaluate CIS at the multiple levels of state affiliates, local affiliates, and school sites. CIS has transformed network practice based on the resulting in-depth and cross-cutting examination of its processes and outcomes, codifying a set of program and business standards demonstrated by the research to have the greatest impact on student improvement. We drove those practices back into the network through an accreditation process—The Total Quality System (TQS). TQS standards raise the expectations for effective nonprofit management to guarantee local affiliate sustainability and the highest quality implementation of the model; strengthen the CIS identity and its association with such sustainability and quality; standardize information collection across the network; and ensure that affiliates receive appropriate assistance at every stage of development. Since TQS began in 2008, 100 affiliates have either been accredited or are in the process, with all affiliates on track for accreditation by 2015.
    Starting in September 2010, CIS launched its Site Coordinator Certification Program (SCCP) to train site coordinators how to best implement ISS and to provide ongoing professional development opportunities through online and in-person courses conducted by National Office staff. Full roll-out of SCCP began in February 2011 and 64 learners graduated the same year. Due to overwhelming demand, CIS added capacity to the program and 525 site coordinators were enrolled at the end of 2011. To date, 831 site coordinators have completed the SCCP, and CIS expects to crest 900 graduates by February 2014.

    CIS is committed to using ongoing research to make organizational and programmatic decisions—to do the hard, but critical work of translating research into practice. As a True North grantee, CIS will again work with an outside evaluator to determine the impact of CIS on such indicators as promotion rates, absenteeism, graduation, drop-out, academic achievement, test scores, school climate, and student behavior and attitudes; the factors influencing those impacts; and variations in results across schools. Evaluation will also address critical factors of implementation, including fidelity to program design, extent of student exposure to services (i.e., dosage), comparisons to other services, and the community and school district context in which services are being implemented. Research methodology will be rigorous, and include randomized controlled trials, the “gold standard” of evaluation research, as well as a variety of other “mixed method” (i.e., quantitative and qualitative) research strategies.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Objective: High quality delivery of comprehensive ISS (both whole school programs and individual student case management services) in all CIS affiliates.
    Progress: 100 affiliates accredited and providing comprehensive services; 26 currently in the accreditation process; 58 preparing to enter the process.

    Objective: Strategic expansion of CIS network to new communities.
    Progress: CIS has received funding to develop affiliates in a number of areas with heavy concentrations of "dropout factories” including Nashville, TN; Southeastern Pennsylvania; Santa Fe, NM; Tulsa, OK;
Service Areas



The Communities In Schools network is a federation of independent 501 (c) (3) organizations in 26 states and the District of Columbia, anchored by the national office in Northern Virginia, and coordinated, supported and expanded through the leadership of 18 state offices.

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Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Fiscal year: Oct 01-Sep 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Communities In Schools, Inc.



Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.


Mr. Daniel Cardinali


Dan Cardinali was appointed president of the Communities In Schools national office in May 2004. Responsible for the operations and day-to-day decision-making of the organization. Cardinali served as executive vice president for field operations, leading four national teams: a community development team, a state office team, a training team, and an expansion and technical assistance team. Cardinali has a bachelor's degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and a master's degree in philosophy from Fordham University.



Elaine Wynn

Director, Wynn Resorts


GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization



Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?