The need for increased wrap-around services in schools has never been greater. Volunteers of America North Louisiana (VOANLA) and the nationally recognized Communities In Schools (CIS) have formed a partnership and are in an unique position to address the barriers that stand between students and their success in life, thanks to generous investment dollars.
Earlier this year, Volunteers of America North Louisiana received two grants from the Community Foundation of North Louisiana to support their services to children and families in need. One grant for $285,000 and the other for $250,000. Additionally, the Women’s Philanthropy Network membership voted to award $75,000 towards supporting Volunteers of America North Louisiana’s ability to expand CIS services in more schools and create brighter futures for every student served.
Volunteers of America North Louisiana has seen firsthand how students living in poverty face many obstacles towards achieving educational success. For 33 years, The LightHouse after-school and summer enrichment program continues to stand as a beacon of hope in our community serving K-12th graders with academic, social, and emotional support. As a way to reach more children in need and surround students with additional community resources, Volunteers of America North Louisiana recently began its ninth year implementing the Communities In Schools’ model of Integrated Student Supports (ISS).
Following the effective ISS model, site coordinators assess the students’ needs and implement measures to reduce the risk of students dropping out. These supports include individual and group counseling, social skills group, behavioral counseling, and basic needs assistance. The site coordinators operate as an integral part of the staff at their assigned school learning the unique culture of their schools and building crucial relationships in the community. Today, Volunteers of America North Louisiana operates CIS in 12 Caddo Parish schools.
“Our mission is to help ensure that all students get the support they need to thrive and we couldn’t do any of this work without the financial investment from the Community Foundation and WPN members,” said Carolyn Hammond, president and CEO, Volunteers of America North Louisiana. “Through their continued commitment, we are giving students the opportunity to unlock their potential now and in their future.”
Volunteers of America North Louisiana’s expansion plan is to be in 15 low performing schools by the end of 2023-24 school year. This will ensure many students in need regardless of their race, gender, ability, zip code, or socioeconomic background are set up for success in school and beyond.
Hammond also shared why it is an investment for our entire community to expand these services beyond the current plan. “In summary, Volunteers of America North Louisiana and Communities In Schools help reduce education and health equity gaps by surrounding students with a community of support to access everything they need to stay in school, graduate on time, and achieve in life.”
To see a complete list of where Volunteers of America North Louisiana operates CIS in Caddo Parish and more information, visit https://voanorthla.org/cis/.