Local Student Support Group Raises Big Surprise Donation – Gig Harbor Now


The local affiliate of a group that helps at-risk students stay in school and perform well will receive an $800,000 donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

The Schools Peninsula Communities announced Thursday that Scott, the former wife of Jeff Bezos, had chosen him and 39 others from more than 100 affiliates nationwide to share in the $133.5 million donation. dollars.

“It was an unsolicited donation,” said Peninsula CIS chief executive Colleen Speer. “MacKenzie did her own research and she chose it herself. We are blessed to be one of 40. We passed the test we didn’t know we were passing. They looked at our track record and were impressed with it, so that’s one of the reasons they chose our affiliate. Our share of that — $800,000 — is something that sort of happened in a dream.

The non-profit organization employs 17 paid professional staff members, 12 of whom are full-time. They work in 10 of the 17 schools in the district and have agreements to help in three others where they are not on site. On average, 320 students are referred to it each year by school staff.

The donation will enable CISP, which operates with an annual budget of $782,000, to not only “increase the number of schools and students we serve, but it will also add organizational sustainability and the ability to increase resources and services within our existing schools,” Speer mentioned. “It also speaks to our work in the fight for educational and racial equity, which was clearly important to this donor.”

Working with local schools and service providers, CISP coordinates essential resources for students and families, including food, housing, healthcare, counseling and access to remote technology, while supporting students in their school attendance, behavior and studies.

“We fill in gray areas, needs, resources and services that aren’t being met,” Speer said of learning barriers and challenges.

Last year, 79% of students served by CISP were low-income and 89% had been exposed to some kind of trauma, Speer said. Ninety-eight percent were promoted to the next grade, and 89% of seniors graduated or received a GED.

“This is great news for the children in our community,” said Peninsula School District Superintendent Krestin Bahr. “Communities In Schools empowers students in the Peninsula School District to unlock their full potential. When the talents and skills of our students come to fruition, our communities become stronger and more vibrant — socially and economically. We are grateful for their partnership and the good work they do to support young people in our community.

Communities in Schools has matured over its 22 years on the peninsula.

“We want to recognize and appreciate everyone who has helped us get to where we are,” Speer said. “We didn’t come here alone.”

Virginia S. Braud