Organization Updates

Communities In Schools receives $2.5 million to focus on local schools

Communities In Schools (CIS) of Milledgeville-Baldwin County, in partnership with Georgia College, will receive $2.5 million in funding over the next five years to launch a new program for Baldwin County students.

Funding from the Department of Education’s Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) grant and in-kind contributions from partners, will help create a new initiative called Wraparound Baldwin (WB). The program goal is to increase services, literacy in K-2 students and parent engagement with the school system.

“The U.S. Department of Education received 121 applications for FSCS grants, but they were only able to fund 15 projects,” said Donna Douglas, Georgia College grant and contract administrator. “It was a very competitive process, and we are excited to receive this grant and what it means for Baldwin County.”

The program focuses on several initiatives, including literacy supplemental instruction, a summer education and literacy program, kindergarten transition program and a school-based health clinic. Efforts will also be made to engage parents with the school system and in the educational process of students.

“Our biggest focus at that age is literacy, to have children reading on grade level by third grade. After third grade, they’re reading to learn so we have to have that foundation in place,” said Sandy Baxter, director of CIS Milledgeville-Baldwin County.

From left to right- Office of Grants & Sponsored Projects Director Robin Lewis, Grants Office Graduate Assistant Morgan Coyner and CIS Director Sandy Baxter.

“The grant is going to provide three full-time staff members for Communities In Schools—one to coordinate the grant projects as well as a Site Coordinator at Midway Hills and Lakeview Primary Schools to help coordinate individual or group tutoring and school-wide services,” she said.

WB will serve over an estimated 1,300 eligible kindergarten through second grade participants and their families at the two schools.

“We will also work with prekindergarten programs to promote the transition into the primary schools,” said Baxter.

Along with working to increase literacy, the funding will create a health clinic at the Early Learning Center to diagnose and treat basic ailments of children in the district.

“We are very excited to put an actual health center in the Early Learning Center. The building was built years ago with that in mind,” said Baxter. “We will be contracting with a health care provider to run the clinic and support them with faculty and student nurses through the Georgia College School of Nursing .”

The grant will also help focus efforts on increasing parental involvement within the district. A small group of parents will encourage friends and family to get involved with the school system and will be paid to give feedback to school.

“There have been many studies that show one of the best indicators of a child graduating and going to college is if the parents want the child to graduate and go to college,” Baxter said. “We know we don’t have all the answers, so we want to work with folks in the community to help guide us.”

Baxter plans to have the additional personnel in place by the start of 2019, so that work on the programs can begin as soon as possible. She hopes to have a soft launch of the health clinic next summer.

Over the five-year project period, $2,497,458 or 71 percent of the funds will come from the federal grant and $1,036,191 or 29 percent of funds will come from in-kind contributions from partners. The total estimated funding for WB is $3,533,649.