The Promises You Keep: CIS Connections

20150815-DSC_6724On Saturday, August 15th in beautiful downtown Bronson Park, this community celebrated the ten year anniversary of The Kalamazoo Promise®. At our CIS station we heard a mantra of thanks offered throughout the day:

“I wouldn’t be in college right now if it wasn’t for The Promise.”

“I still can’t believe we have this awesome gift in our community.”

“How can I help support The Promise through CIS? Can I volunteer? What can my business/organization do?”

But, it was what happened before the event, even before the park filled with people, that underscored the beauty of this tremendous gift.
While attempting to put up the tent, we were approached by a stooped, old man in dingy clothes. After explaining the event, the man replied: “I’m just a street person,” as if to apologize for his presence. “I don’t have kids in the Kalamazoo Public Schools. Am I even allowed to come to this event?”

“You are a part of this community,” we told him. “That means that you are also a part of The Promise. Help us celebrate!” His face lit up. He seemed to stand a little straighter. Before he left, he gave us the one gift he had—he generously blessed us.

There were a variety of community volunteers working together and our tent would not have been set up without their help. The recent words of Von Washington Jr., Executive Director of Community Relations for The Kalamazoo Promise® came to mind. He said, “The celebration in the park is designed for everyone in the community to come out, have some fun and revel in being a part of a city that enjoys this wonderful asset.”

No city, like no person, is perfect. We need each other to lift the tents that separate us from each other. The Promise is a wonderful reminder that we too, must be generous and give, however and whenever we can. We are responsible for each other and for making sure all of our kids can take advantage of the profound gift of The Kalamazoo Promise®.

So many of you work together with us to overcome the barriers that derail kids, giving them the hope and belief that they can succeed in school, graduate, and be prepared for life.

We thank you!

If you are reading this newsletter, you are a part of The Promise. Want to play a bigger role in helping Kalamazoo Public School students stay in school, graduate and be prepared to take advantage of the gift of The Kalamazoo Promise®? Volunteer, donate, or, partner with CIS today! Help us keep our promise.

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Fall 2015

Nourish: CIS Connections 14-15 Vol III

IMG_3700-editShow me a nourished student and I will show you a student who, because of a healthy appetite for learning, lives each day to their fullest potential. Students, just like any of us, must have their basic needs met (ie. food, shelter, sense of emotional and physical safety) before they are motivated to a higher level of need. Hunger, by its very nature, takes bites out of academic success. An emotionally or physically hungry student, worried about where they will sleep, if or where they will get their next meal, can’t fully be present in the classroom. Survival, not learning, is utmost on their mind. As third grade Kalamazoo Public School teacher P.J. Bucholtz puts it, “No amount of love in the world can fill an empty tummy.” Only food can do that. And it is only because of the efforts of Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes that CIS Site Coordinators, with the support of many organizations and volunteers, can get Friday food packs into the hands–and tummies–of our hungriest of children.

CIS staff find that physical hunger is all too real for many of our children. Just as real is emotional hunger, which can, research has shown, leave students feeling depressed, confused, and physically sick more often and longer than emotionally fulfilled students. There is no better emotional food for students than the belief that adults in their school care about their learning and about them as individuals. This emotional satisfaction helps them academically engage and feel an increased sense of connectedness to their school. This is a good thing because connected students are more likely to have higher attendance rates and stay in school longer, increasing the likelihood of academic, occupational, and life success (Battin-Pearson et al., 2000).

Because CIS focuses on the whole child, our partners and volunteers are feeding our children in many ways. By both their caring presence and resources offered, they dish up hope, often offering students a taste of opportunities they might not otherwise have. Some (including CIS Kids’ Closet donors) are making sure staple ingredients, like underwear, shoes, food, glasses, coats and more are on the menu.

We are thankful for the ongoing commitment of members of this community who, in their roles as teacher, educator, parent, partner, volunteer, or donor, make it possible for our children to arrive each day to school more focused and hungry to learn.

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CIS Connections: 14-15 II