Communities In Schools Summer Institute builds capacity to serve at-risk students


​HUNTINGTON, WV – First Lady Cathy Justice and officials with the West Virginia Department of Education have been working alongside leaders from the Communities In Schools (CIS) program this week, to host 175 educators and service providers for a four-day Summer Learning Institute in Huntington.

The Institute is being held to assist counties that are part of a recent CIS expansion learn how they can address students’ needs more effectively. On Wednesday, First Lady Justice, along with several dignitaries from CIS and the WVDE, addressed attendees during a keynote event.

Videos and pictures of the event will be available for members of the media to download here

“West Virginia has the highest poverty rate in the country and the devastating impact of this is seen and felt in our schools every day,” First Lady Cathy Justice said. “Communities In Schools changes lives and gives students and their families hope.”

Following an appropriation from the West Virginia Legislature, CIS will operate in eleven counties and 59 schools during the 2019-20 school year. West Virginia is the first state-level Communities In Schools licensed partner and the West Virginia expansion is the single largest licensing expansion in the country.

"Cathy is truly leading the charge to expand Communities In Schools across all of West Virginia," Gov. Jim Justice said. "I am so incredibly proud of her and her team for all they are doing to help make sure our kids have all the opportunities in the world for a great education and a great life."

CIS Founder Bill Milliken attended the Summer Institute and delivered remarks Wednesday afternoon.

“Thanks to the partnership between CIS and the West Virginia Department of Education, a group of highly trained and caring adults will be inside schools, working alongside teachers and in partnership with families, to help these young people succeed in school and stay on a path to a brighter future,” Milliken said. 

For more than 40 years, CIS has been the leading national provider of integrated student supports and improving student outcomes by removing academic and non-academic barriers to learning. Its goal is to reduce dropout rates and keep at-risk students in school by connecting them to resources such as food, clothing, counseling, family engagement, life skills and physical health needs. 

First Lady Justice has been involved with the program since 2004 when it was launched in Greenbrier County. During the 2019-20 school year, the program will expand into Berkeley, Cabell, Calhoun, Clay, Fayette, Hardy, Lincoln, McDowell, Pendleton, Raleigh and Wyoming counties and provide services to approximately 25,000 students across the state. 

The foundation of the program is the site coordinator who builds relationships that empower students to stay in school and succeed in life. These teachers work inside schools in partnership with school staff to identify challenges facing students in school or at home. They bridge this need with resources through neighboring community partners that provide various levels of support. 

The CIS Summer Institute will train 50 new site coordinators and principals and expand capacity of the program within the designated counties.

CIS National Board Chairwoman Elaine Wynn has also been on hand for the Summer Institute. Over the past 25, in her home state of Nevada, the last four governors have drafted Wynn into leadership positions addressing public education. In 2013 and again in 2015, Wynn was appointed to Nevada’s State Board of Education, a body on which she has twice been elected president. 


West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Dr. Steven Paine also spoke during Wednesday's event.

“CIS is built on an evidence-based model with proven results in our state and across the country," Paine said. "It reflects the level of school, family, community and business participation we need to help our students succeed."

The Institute, which began with a kickoff event Monday, continues through Thursday. 

Contact Information

Jordan Damron,


Office of the Governor
State Capitol, 1900 Kanawha Blvd. E
Charleston, WV 25305

Office Phone:
304.558.2000 or 1.888.438.2731

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