Summer Institute Prepares CIS Community Partners for an Impactful School Year

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By Katie Rankin, Communications Specialist, Communities In Schools of Chicago

The back-to-school season is here, and while students, families, and teachers are preparing to return to the classroom, so are the community organizations who support them.

This month, the Partnership Team at Communities In Schools (CIS) of Chicago hosted Summer Institute for its network of more than 200 community partners and provided them with the resources they need to execute impactful programs for Chicago students this school year.

An annual day of learning and networking, Summer Institute has become a staple event at CIS of Chicago. For 11 years running, Summer Institute has supported community organizations across the city who offer student programs in areas like academic enrichment, arts, behavioral and mental health, college and career readiness, and physical health and wellness.

The event exemplifies one of CIS’ core values — impact. The CIS team believes that investing in the professional development of community organizations is key to their success in the classroom, and in turn, the overall success of Chicago students in school and in life.

This year, Summer Institute was held at Erikson Institute, and roughly 75 folks attended to discuss best practices for quality programming in the 2023–24 school year. Session topics responded to the needs of Chicago students and teachers and were wide-ranging.

Presenters shared valuable information on how to write lesson plans, why relevant curriculum is so important for today’s students, ways to promote curiosity in the classroom, and strategies for connecting program material to the needs of English Language Learners — a growing need within the district.

CIS Academic Enrichment Partnership Specialist Shontierra Anderson served as the event organizer, and she moderated a panel session featuring four CIS community partners sharing their take on maximizing the partnership with CIS.

“My personal hope for the event was to provide a space for community partners to interact with one another in meaningful ways and establish genuine connections,” Shontierra said. “The months spent planning were absolutely worth all of the smiles I saw throughout the day, the lessons learned during workshops, and the connections that were made.”

In the 2022–23 school year, CIS of Chicago linked more than 1,500 community partner programs and resources with Chicago Public Schools, and this year, the team is hoping to deepen its impact.

Our community partners feel the same. Hear from them what they found most helpful from Summer Institute and why partnering with CIS of Chicago is meaningful for them:

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Communities In Schools of Chicago

Our mission is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.