Another major education-related gift has emanated from the bank account of philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, and an $800,000 chunk has been devoted to the Indiana affiliate of a group that provides services inside schools for at-risk students.
Communities In Schools, a network of not-for-profits groups that work in K-12 schools across the country, said Thursday that the national office and its affiliates had been given $133.5 million from Scott, the billionaire philanthropist who has been doling out her fortune at an astounding rate.
Since divorcing from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Scott has made donations of more than $8 billion.
The $800,000 portion of Scott’s donation going to Indianapolis-based affiliate CIS of Indiana is the largest gift the group has ever received, and it will enable the organization to expand its impact in more schools, according to Executive Director Hadley Moore Vlahogeorge.
Communities in Schools trains and provides staff members who work out of about 2,900 high-poverty schools in 517 districts across the country. These staff provide a range of academic and other support services meant to help students succeed and graduate.
It’s a version of the community school model, which considers academic success linked to many other factors that affect children’s lives and works to offer wraparound services. Counselors might help a family submit an application for public housing, access a food bank, provide emergency financial assistance to a family or arrange health care—in addition to providing tutoring or other academic supports.
CIS of Indiana currently serves more than 26,000 students in 31 schools in central Indiana. Indianapolis school districts employing the CIS model include the Metropolitan School Districts of Lawrence and Decatur Townships and Indianapolis Public Schools.
Scott has also given significant gifts to colleges, including more than $800 million to historically Black colleges and universities. She no longer discloses grant recipients, leaving it to the organizations to make information about the gifts public if they so choose.
As with other Scott donations, Communities In Schools got a call out of the blue from her staff with the news that she wanted to make the contribution, according to its CEO, Rey Saldaña.
Saldaña said the Scott donation would allow affiliates to expand their services into more schools, knowing that they have money in the bank to support it. The program typically costs $80,000 to $100,000 per staffer.