Communities in Schools Site Coordinator, Ms. Garcia, stands with Amanda, a Dwight Middle School Student. Photo courtesy of CIS.
Communities in Schools Site Coordinator, Ms. Garcia, stands with Amanda, a Dwight Middle School Student. Photo courtesy of CIS.

Communities in Schools of San Antonio (CIS-SA) has been singled out among all affiliates of the national nonprofit to receive the Unsung Heroes Community of Excellence Award. The award recognizes CIS-SA’s outstanding work connecting community resources to underserved students and schools.

“This award is shared by all of us at CIS of San Antonio for the hard work and dedication to meeting students’ needs,” said Jessica Weaver, CIS-SA CEO.

CIS-SA reaches students, families, teachers, and principals in 11 school districts and 81 schools across Bexar County, and their impact has caught the eye of high level leadership. To be eligible for the Unsung Heroes Award, the Communities in Schools affiliate must be nominated by an influential member of their community. Mayor Ivy Taylor and Northside ISD Superintendent Brian Woods nominated CIS-SA for the award.

The Communities in Schools brigade during the 2014 MLK March. Photo courtesy of CIS Facebook page.
The Communities in Schools brigade during the 2014 MLK March. Photo courtesy of CIS Facebook page.

While Communities in Schools affiliates across the country tend to have a good reputation with those they serve, CIS-SA demonstrates a genuine passion for their students that often extends beyond programming.

“The work being done by CIS of San Antonio is inspiring and a true example of going the extra mile and of providing exceptional support to students and their families,” said Gary Chapman, executive vice president of Communities in Schools’ national network. “We’re thrilled to recognize CIS of San Antonio as a Community of Excellence.” 

CIS-SA has been a driver for collaboration in the city as well. They connect with community partners who help them provide tangible support to kids who may be hungry, homeless, or simply slipping through the cracks. They also participate in coalition efforts with like-minded organizations to promote mentoring, improve educational outcomes, and foster character development. Site coordinators conduct unique needs assessments at every campus, so the partners and programs may be different at each. What doesn’t change is the intense commitment of staff.

This recognition will confirm what students already experience when a CIS-SA mentor takes a personal interest in their attendance record. It will come as no surprise to the families who have seen snack programs turn into full-blown San Antonio Food Bank mobile pantries when site coordinators realized the needs were too great for occasional supplements. 

One San Antonian that has spoken up about the power of CIS-SA is Councilmember Rey Saldaña (D4). During the Communities in Schools Leadership Town Hall, Saldaña credited much of his success to character traits instilled in him by CIS-SA site coordinators in his time at South San Antonio High School. Those qualities have propelled him into a career of public service.

“I will say this about Communities In Schools, they find people who understand the definition of community,” Saldaña said.

*Top image: Communities in Schools Site Coordinator Ms. Garcia (left) stands with Amanda, a Dwight Middle School Student. Photo courtesy of CIS.

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Bekah McNeel

Bekah McNeel is a native San Antonian. You can also find her at her blog, FreeBekah.com, on Twitter @BekahMcneel, and on Instagram @wanderbekah.