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The Season of Giving

Do you remember the teacher who used to challenge you to “be the change you wish to see”? At Communities In Schools of Durham, we present this call to action to our students regularly and are always excited to see how they rise to the occasion.


Inspired to serve as agents of change, four students at Neal Middle School answered our call by looking out into the world to find how they can give back. Jalissa, Trevon, Jade, and Devonna are 7th graders participating in Youth Ventures, a collaboration between CIS Durham and United Way of the Greater Triangle. Through this program, students turn passion for community change into careers through social entrepreneurship.

It all comes together under the leadership of CIS Durham Graduation Coach Katy de Roeck Bigsby. Last March, Katy approached Jalissa, Trevon, Jade, and Devonna with the opportunity to spearhead Youth Ventures at Neal Middle School, and they answered with a resounding yes.

“If you want to see change, you have to put forth an effort.”

Those words, first expressed to Jalissa by her mother, now galvanize Jalissa and her peers in their projects. With a desire to promote an environment of inclusion, Jalissa is starting an after-school diversity club for students seeking a new circle of friends. Following her dream to end animal cruelty, Jade founded a social entrepreneurship program, Lend A Paw, and is raising money for families with pets who need additional support.

Devonna and Trevon work with passion to address tough issues like drug use through peer mentoring programs. “Touching one person is enough,” Trevon says, and these middle school scholars put their heart into helping their peers be the best they can. This passion is echoed by Graduation Coach Katy, who feels her calling each morning is to “get our kids out of the box that limits them, thinking they are just kids who cannot foster change or make a difference. I know they can.”

Student Success is Our Business

Since 1993, Communities In Schools of Durham has served students like Devonna, Jade, Jalissa, and Trevon. Our mission is a bold one: Surround student with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. This year, we are on track to serve more than 6,000 students in nine schools across the county.

We are proud to be part of a national network that is consistently ranked the leading drop-out prevention organization in the country. Through our program, students receive year-round individualized support from Success and Graduation Coaches like Katy. Our model revolves around meaningful interventions backed by evidence-based practices designed to teach the skills students need to succeed.

As part of the process, our staff assesses the needs of our most vulnerable students while also providing school-wide resources accessible to all. During the 2013–2014 school year, 90% of our eligible seniors graduated, and 80% of our students were promoted to the next grade level. And there is more work to be done.

Join Devonna, Jade, Jalissa, and Trevon in “Being the Change!”

Pledge your support to Communities In Schools of Durham today by making a donation online through PayPal. You do not need an account. For every $1 we receive, we produce an $11.60 economic return to the Durham community. Your gift will connect more students with impactful services and resources, and our staff with additional training and evaluation tools.

We sincerely appreciate your support of our work in the Durham community. Because of you, our students can carve a path to a brighter future.

Best wishes to you and your family for a happy holiday season,

Beverly Hardin

Executive Director

P.S. Your charitable contribution to Communities In Schools of Durham is fully tax deductible. Return your gift by December 31st for this tax year.


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