What is the world coming to?

If you stepped onto the campus of Western Michigan University this past weekend and peeked into the “Brown and Gold” room you would feel hopeful about the future.

On Saturday, about 75 Kalamazoo Public School students chose to spend part of their day participating in a “Courage to Create” poetry workshop. “Courage to Create” is just one of a number of fun and educational offerings students can participate in, along with families, as part of Kalamazoo’s annual MLK Day Celebration. We love celebrating the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with young people.

“These kids are great!” said Elizabeth Kerlikowske, President of Friends of Poetry. She is right. Giants and Knights sat side by side, wrote poetry, and many shared their works aloud. The students were polite, kind, they took risks with their writing, and listened to each other. They set a good example for grownups!

What is the world is coming to? Love and goodness, for starters. Here are two terrific examples of what students created:

Love

Love smiles and embraces me with the biggest hug. “I love you!” she shouts as we go on with the day. As we walk along, she is just singing that one song, “All you need is love, love, love.” As corny as she is, you can’t help but smile because Love just gives you the warmest feeling.

As we are walking, we see a couple fighting, so of course, Love walks up to them and asks, “Oh, where is the Love? Isn’t Love stronger than anything else? You must embrace it!” To my surprise, the couple turns to each other with the biggest smiles. “I love you!” they shout.

I guess Love is really unexpected.

-Saquaya Baker, a junior at Kalamazoo Central High School

 

Goodness

I take Goodness with me wherever I go: to school, events, family functions, you name it. She is very popular! Her kindness makes others smile and want to be around her. She makes me a better person as well. When I have negative thoughts, she is always there to keep me in check because her motto is, “Do unto others as you want others to do unto you.” It’s a nice reminder every once in a while when I am in a bad mood.

However, Goodness isn’t always there to guide me. When I moved to Kalamazoo from Birmingham the beginning of my eleventh grade year, she left for some time. I think it was because I pushed her away. Anger and Depression took her place, but I did not want them there, so I asked her to be patient with me and come back because I could not get through my situation without her. To my great appreciation, she returned, all smiles, with the bright colors she loves to wear and the fantastic Dad jokes that can make anyone’s day just by hearing her laugh at them. We are the best of friends again and we are changing the world one smile and helping hand at a time.

-Sidney Washington, a senior at Kalamazoo Central High School

In the months to come, we’ll  publish a few more works created during this workshop, so keep up with us at Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids.

 

As 2016 Comes to a Close

Thank you to all of you who have made a gift to Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo this year!  Your generous support is giving kids in our community the power of hope and the belief that they can succeed in school, graduate, and be prepared for life.

If you are planning a year-end gift to CIS, thank you!  We also want to make sure you know about some important dates to ensure your gift can be credited to 2016.

  • Checks must be dated and postmarked by December 31, 2016.
  • Credit card donations should be made online by 11:59 PM on December 31, 2016.
  • If you wish to drop off your gift, please note that the CIS office will be closed beginning Friday, December 23 and will re-open on Tuesday, January 3.

If your employer matches your donations, please be sure to send us any matching gift form to be completed.  You can check our website to see if your employer may offer this benefit.

If you have any questions or need help making your gift, please call (269) 337-1601, ext 205 for more information.

From all of us at CIS, we want to wish you and your family happy holidays. Thank you for investing in kids! 

 

It’s Never Okay

When it comes to distracted driving, young people are texting and talking behind the wheel like never before. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities involving young drivers between the ages of 15-20 increased 10% in 2015. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens. Today in the United States, 11 teens will die as a result of texting while driving.

We’re proud that two of our CIS partners—AT&T and State Farm®—have both been leaders and are at the forefront in helping combat this growing epidemic.

To keep young people safe, AT&T launched their “It Can Wait” campaign back in 2010. AT&T’s message is simple: Don’t text while you drive. They created an online virtual simulator to show how just a glance or quick response can prove deadly. To date, over 12 million people have taken the pledge to never drive distracted. You and your teen can also take the pledge by going here.

State Farm® has a Teen Driver Safety Website filled with free tools, tips, and resources designed to help teens and their parents throughout the learning-to-drive process. They also conducted a recent survey this past July. They found that over 80 percent of teen drivers (ages 16-19) have chosen to be distracted by their phones when they’re driving. Teens who have their own car were significantly more likely to participate in distracting behaviors while driving than were those who share the family car. To read State Farm’s full report, go here.

Steer your kids and young drivers in the right direction by educating them to never drive distracted. One fun way you can do this (while having free cider and donuts) is to stop down this Saturday, November 19th from 10am-12pm at Mayor’s Riverfront Park near downtown Kalamazoo. Bronson Trauma Services and the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety (KDPS) are hosting a distracted driving mock trauma simulation. West Michigan Air Care will be landing their helicopter (weather permitting), and LIFE EMS will provide a rescue simulation.

KDPS will be hosting a fire prevention event alongside the mock trauma simulation. Several exciting displays and simulations will be on site for education about fire prevention and safety, including an interactive smoke house, fire sprinkler demonstrations, a bomb squad truck, fire engines and ambulances.

Keeping the Lights on for the CIS After School Program

cis-after-school-program-lights-on-afterschool-4Today millions of people throughout America are turning the lights on as part of the 17th annual Lights On Afterschool to emphasize the importance of keeping lights on and doors open for after school programs. National Lights On Afterschool Awareness Day is Thursday, October 20, 2016, and Kalamazoo Public School students will be doing their part to shed light on the need to invest in after school programs.

This week, elementary and secondary students who participate in Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo (CIS) After School Programs are coming up with their own ways to shine the spotlight on quality after school support. Students are writing letters to public officials and stakeholders, making artwork, reading essays, and holding a neighborhood march to raise the public’s awareness about the need for after school opportunities.

Recent data from America After 3PM, shows a vast unmet demand for after school programs nationwide. The study found that nationally for every one child who participates in an after school program, three children would be enrolled if a program were available to them. In Michigan, the majority of parents agree that after school programs excite children about learning. More work needs to be done to meet the need for after school programs that keep kids safe, inspire them to learn.

cis-after-school-program-lights-on-afterschool-8“Lights On Afterschool celebrates the remarkable work being done by students who attend the CIS After School Program as well as other after school programs throughout the nation,” says Dr. Linda Thompson, CIS Senior Director of Site Services. “It is a powerful reminder that after school programs offer a range of benefits to students and families. We must make sure that decision makers and other stakeholders are aware of the benefits after school programs provide and continue their support.”

CIS After School Programs extend the learning day Monday through Thursday in 15 KPS schools. A significant body of research demonstrates that students who regularly attend after school programs are more likely to improve their grades, tests scores and overall academic behavior. In the 2016/17 school year, CIS anticipates serving over 1,000 children during after school time.

CIS relies heavily on local resources and partnerships for its core work during the school day including placing CIS Site Coordinators within schools to identify needs and connect students to the right resources to remove barriers to school success. The CIS After School Program is available thanks to the support of federal dollars awarded through the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers).

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An Hour A Week: May 2016

Honore
The fabulous team at Honoré Salon, one of our 2016 Champ recipients.
This week we had our largest Champs celebration yet. With over 250 people attending, we celebrated people, organizations, and businesses who are going above and beyond to make a difference in our kids’ lives. Please keep an eye on our blog, Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids, in the coming weeks for more about each of our 2016 Champ recipients.

Event Spotlight – WMU Pediatric School of Medicine Visit

WMUThe Pediatric School of Medicine at Western Michigan University participated this year in a Call to Action put out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The call was designed to promote awareness of childhood poverty and inspire those in the medical field to take a day and connect with community they serve. Med students visited Hillside Middle School and spoke with kids about pursuing careers in medicine. They also helped us with Kid’s Closet, organized the art room, and played with kids during their physical recreation time.

Thank you, WMU School of Medicine, for taking time out of your day to help students see potential career options for themselves!

It was great seeing the volunteers interact with the students throughout the time they were here! I received lots of positive feedback from teachers. One of my favorite moments of the day was overhearing an entire science classroom ask the volunteers question after question about becoming a doctor. Exposure to college and career paths naturally pushes students to ask questions, explore options and cultivate a drive for success. It also makes students’ dreams tangible and realistic, because they can see someone who is pursuing a path they also want to pursue. Events like this result in students feeling empowered to stay in school and achieve in life. The WMU School of Medicine Students are evidence of a community in Kalamazoo that wants to pour into the lives of our students. And this community support speaks volumes to our students.
–Precious Miller, CIS Site Coordinator at Hillside Middle School

Volunteer Backpack

 

Volunteer Opportunity

 

The following events will be at Woodward School for Technology & Research

606 Stuart Ave.

 

June 14th

8:30am-2:30pm

Family Fun Day Carnival

 

We are welcoming families of Woodward students to join us for a day filled with games and activities. We are looking for 15 people to help with running activities, face painting, and setting up and coordinating games. The activities will be pre-planned; all we need from you your friendly spirit and a smile!

 

June 15th

8-10:30am

Field Day for grades 3-5

 

We’re seeking 15 volunteers to help run outside games in our expansive green space.

 

June 16th

8-10:30am

Field Day for grades K-2

 

We’re looking for 15 volunteers to help run outside games in our expansive green space.

 

To sign up please register with Kaitlin at kmartin@ciskalamazoo.org

 

 

Upcoming Training

 

Cultural Competency: Diversity & Inclusion

Saturday, May 21st, 9-11:30am

First Congregational Church

345 W. Michigan Ave.

 

Explore how our biases shape and impact the relationships we have with the students we serve. Learn how to build empowering and student-led relationships by gaining a more comprehensive understanding of barriers students face.

 

Training facilitated by CIS Volunteer Coordinator, Kaitlin Martin, and CIS After School Coordinator at El Sol, Bri Fonville.

 

Contact Kaitlin Martin at kmartin@ciskalamazoo.org to register.

 

Kids’ Closet

 

Kids’ Closet currently has a need for the following new items:

  • Underwear – children and adult sizes
  • Sweatpants – children and adult sizes
  • Shorts – children and adult sizes
  • Deodorant – men’s and women’s
  • Hand/body lotion – unscented/unisex
  • Feminine hygiene items

To make a donation, please contact Emily Kobza at ekobza@ciskalamazoo.org or 269-337-1601 x205. For more information, go to our website.

2nd Annual Ugly Sweater Party

Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo is throwing a party, and you’re invited!

Thursday, December 10th at 5:30-8:00pm

At Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill (downtown Kalamazoo, located in the Radisson Hotel)

Cover: FREE with a minimum donation of $10 or a new item from the CIS Kids’ Closet wish list.

Guests will enjoy appetizers, drink specials, fun, and door prizes.

The CIS Kids’ Closet provides basic items of clothing (including winter wear), personal care products, and school supplies to K-12 students across 20 schools.  Last school year, 10,000 items were distributed to students from the CIS Kids’ Closet. CIS expects even more requests for assistance this year.

CIS Kids’ Closet wish list:

  • Sweatpants (children’s and adult sizes)
  • Winter boots (children’s and adult sizes)
  • Multi-pack of underwear (children’s and adult sizes)

RSVP here: cisuglysweaterparty.eventbrite.com

 

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FAQs

 

What are my transport/parking options getting to the event?

Parking is available in the Radisson parking ramp, and Burdick’s will validate your parking.  There is also plentiful on-street parking throughout downtown Kalamazoo.

 

What can/can’t I bring to the event?

Please bring a minimum donation of $10 or a new item from our Kids’ Closet wish list (sweatpants, winter boots, multi-pack of underwear).  Donations are only being accepted at the door.  Personal checks are welcome.

 

Where can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Questions?  Please contact Emily at (269) 337-1601, ext 205 or at ekobza@ciskalamazoo.org.

 

Lighting Up learning after the school day ends

bell-300x200This afternoon, when bells ring across America announcing  the school day’s end, more than 15 million of the students who pour out the doors will end up home alone. That’s a lot of unsupervised youth.

Children who regularly attend high-quality after school programs are more likely to be attentive and engaged during the school day. CIS after school extends the learning day Monday through Thursday in 15 Kalamazoo Public Schools (KPS). As one of our students put it, “To me, after school means to always be loved and helped. CIS after school is a place that I can let my feelings go and be myself. I will always be safe and cared about.” That’s what we want for all our kids!

Here are some photos (snapped by Artrella Cohn, CIS Director of Secondary Sites) ofMilwood Magnet Middle School students reading, reading, reading, and reading as part of their Bookclub in CIS after school. Really cool!

This year, CIS anticipates serving more than 1,000 children during after school time thanks to the support of federal dollars awarded through the Michigan Department of Education (21st Century Community Learning Centers). A shout out to CIS after school coordinators, youth development workers, volunteers, and partners who extend the learning day for students. (We are hiring for youth development workers. Click here for more information.)

National Lights On Afterschool Awareness Day is Thursday, October 22, 2015 andKPS students are doing their part to shed light on the need to invest in afterschool programs. You can read more here.

Also, tune in for The Lori Moore Show tomorrow at 4pm on CW7 and hear what Lori’s guests, Artrella Cohn (CIS Director of Secondary Sites) and Elyse Brey (CIS Director of Elementary Sites), have to say.

Women Making Kalamazoo Better For All

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Pam (right) receiving her YWCA Women of Achievement Award from Carrie Pickett Erway, President and CEO of The Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

Kalamazoo is bursting with strong, wonderful women.

Just last week, the 2015 award celebration for the YWCA Women of Achievement was held at the Radisson. Pam Kingery, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo  was one of four women to receive the Women of Achievement Award.Kalamazoo Community Foundation sponsored her award and, as President and CEO, Carrie Picket Erway shared with the packed audience: In December 1999 Pam took on the challenge of developing a new organization from scratch, known as Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. Pam’s recipe to success was in using a national model to overcome the barriers that disrupted kids, giving them hope and the belief they can succeed in school, graduate and be prepared for life. Under her leadership and vision, the organization has steadily grown to over 140 employees, serving 20 schools, reaching 1,300 students, coordinating 175,000 hours of service, and over 9,700 students receiving service through community partnerships coordinated by Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo.

Several of you have asked that we run the speech that Pam gave  that evening. We think you’ll find it straightforward and sincere, just like Pam. But, before we share it, just a few words about some of the other award winners with connections to CIS….

The YWCA Lifetime Woman of Achievement Award was given to Carolyn Alford. A former CIS board member, who, among many other volunteer and professional accomplishments, also served 16 years on the Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Trustees. She  reminded the packed audience that we can make an impact on our community “when we work together as one on behalf of others.” She definitely lives these words.

CIS and our kids have also benefited from the wisdom and expertise of former CIS board member and YWCA Woman of Achievement Sherry Thomas-Cloud. Currently, Sherry is the executive director of the Douglass Community Association.

(Right to left) Tiara Blair, Pam Kingery, Cynthia Cooper, and Artrella Cohn
(Right to left) Tiara Blair, Pam Kingery, Cynthia Cooper, and Artrella Cohn

The YWCA Young Women of Achievement Award was bestowed upon 19 young women from area high schools and organizations that show exemplary leadership through extracurricular activities, volunteer work, serving as role models, and academic achievements. Special kudos to our own Tiara Blair!

We are so proud of her and how she and all the Women of Achievement serve as role models for the next generation. In fact, later this week, Thursday, May 21st, our future women–over 2,000 3rd-5th grade girls–will pound through the streets as part of the Greater Kalamazoo Girls on the Run 5K. You go, girls!

Here now, is Pam’s speech:

I love this community!  I came here with my husband for his graduate school program, intending to stay one-two years. Now, 41 years later, I feel very blessed to be in this special place.  I have had the good fortune to have two careers here—one in mental health and one with Communities In Schools.  And in both, I have been extremely lucky to work with smart, talented colleagues who care about their work as much as I do—several have honored me with attending this evening.  A special thanks to Jennifer, Emily and Trella for nominating me for this award.  I want to thank my family—my husband, Don, my daughter Logan and my sons, Noah and JB; not only have they been very supportive of me, they embrace my work with Communities In Schools with their own time, talent and treasure. They conspired to surprise me with the special visit by Noah from Washington DC to attend this event. My very special friend, Tyreese and his mom, Renee, also enrich me every day by sharing their lives.  Thank you, Tyreese!

I so appreciate this award and the YWCA’s history of supporting and lifting up the women of Kalamazoo. To be a part of that group of women is inspiring to me.  To theKalamazoo Community Foundation for sponsoring my award, please accept my genuine gratitude. I really believe in “For good and forever”—it isn’t just a tag line—and so it is especially meaningful to have your support. Thank you.

Diane Eberts (center) and Lisa Rodriguez (right) congratulate Pam on her YWCA Women of Achievement award.
Diane Eberts (center) and Lisa Rodriguez (right) congratulate Pam on her YWCA Women of Achievement award.

I want every child in this community to benefit from its resources as much as I have, and as much as my children did—for the good of us all, forever for Kalamazoo and beyond.  And so my deep and profound appreciation includes in particular the Board members of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo and our generous donors.  Thank you for giving so much of yourselves and taking this journey of faith and determination that together we will surround our kids with love and a community that continues to say “we believe in your ability to succeed.”

Finally, I believe my mother’s spirit is here with me.  She is the person who instilled in me a love of education, in spite of having to give up her own. Thanks, Mom—I am forever your grateful daughter.