The Children In Crisis Task Force was organized by Brunswick County Schools and the community to address the needs of children and factors that cause children to drop out of school such as high absenteeism, poverty, drugs, lack of role models and safe environments, low academic skills and inefficient social skills. Creating an alternative school for the county rose to the top as a priority. A successful grant was written to the NC Department of Public Instruction to begin the county’s first alternative school, Brunswick Learning Center, later known as the Brunswick County Academy, with Communities In Schools (CIS) as a component of the grant.
CIS opened their first office space within the Brunswick Learning Center (Brunswick County Academy) facility. CIS services for the school included a state recognized school-to-work partnership with Dosher Hospital. Other CIS services for the alternative school included partnerships with Brunswick Community College, community volunteer tutors, and health and human service support from county agencies. The CIS process quickly expanded to a comprehensive program serving all schools in Brunswick County with a menu of services.
CIS incorporated as a nonprofit with start up funds from E.I. DuPont and CP&L (now Duke Energy Progress). Office space was provided by CP&L (Duke Progress Energy). Thirty-five board members were recruited to become the first governing board of the organization. Cynthia Tart was hired as the first executive director and is still recognized as the founding director.
The first Family Resource Center began in Leland in a small mobile unit with a grant from the NC Division of Social Services and later moved to a renovated community building; Services included volunteer tutoring, agency connections, school-to-work programming and community partnerships for the schools.
The Adopt A School Program began with Dosher Hospital, E.I. DuPont and CP&L (now Duke Energy Progress) serving as the first official adopting partners. Camp United Methodist Church was the first communities of faith adopting partner and has served as a role model for the state. Recognition moved to the national level as General Colin Powell’s office used the Brunswick County guidelines to establish nationwide church/school partnerships through America’s Promise. Over 220 partners are involved today as adopting school partners with Brunswick County Schools.
The Volunteer Program began through partnerships with businesses, county agencies, communities of faith, civic groups, retirees and the general public. The school’s first comprehensive volunteer training program were developed and implemented, with a criminal background check required for all volunteers.
After School Programs were funded through a NC Support Our Students (SOS) grant and two sites were opened.
Teen Court began with designated funds from a legislative bill sponsored by Senator R.C. Soles, Representatives Dewey Hill and David Redwine. Teen Court is a partnership with the District Attorney’s office and the Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis. The program serves over 100 first-time juvenile offenders each year.
The Leland Family Resource Center expanded through a Brunswick County Partnership for Children Smart Start grant and an Even Start grant to develop the Leland Family Literacy Program, which included a five-star child development childcare center. CIS operated two Family Resource Centers located in Leland and Ash. The centers served over 600 people each month with a wide variety of programs and partnerships.
CIS received DPI funding through a 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant, which was the largest grant ever awarded to CIS – $1.3 million over a four year period. Over 700 children were served in 2007-2008 at eleven sites through after school and summer programs.
The Annual Power of One Award, sponsored by Duke Energy Progress, to recognize a business, community of faith, agency, organization or individual who has displayed exemplary dedication and commitment to the children and families of Brunswick County through a Communities In Schools program.
The CIS Academic Scholarship Program was spearheaded. Annual academic scholarships of $1,000 are awarded to all three high schools, Early College, and the Brunswick County Academy.
The CIS Parenting Education Program was developed and implemented to provide parenting education classes and support groups to families seeking information on family management and to families in crisis.
Peer Court was established at Shallotte Middle School funded by the Governor’s Crime Commission, along with support of the South Brunswick Islands Rotary and Shallotte Rotary Clubs. Critical goals for this program are to lower suspensions, reduce repeat offenses and decrease truancy of the offender.
CIS Academic Scholarship Program was expanded to include scholarships awarded to all Brunswick County high schools, Brunswick County Academy and Teen Court.
Peer Court expanded to South Brunswick Middle School through a partnership with the Southport-Oak Island Kiwanis Club.
The CIS Dropout Prevention Program started at Shallotte Middle School through grant funds from NC General Assembly. Two Success Coaches address dropout prevention through case management of high risk students, using the combined models of Communities In Schools and Youth Courts. Students with multiple risk factors for dropping out of school, such as low attendance rates, poor academic performance, behavioral issues, detachment from school were identified and provided with multiple layers of interventions.
With the opening of Cedar Grove Middle School, CIS provided a Success Coach to work with the students previously attending Shallotte Middle School. Peer Court was also expanded to Cedar Grove.
After 10 years of serving families in Northern Brunswick County, the CIS Family Literacy Center closed in May because of major funding cuts due to the failing economy. In August, the Dropout Prevention Program expanded to Leland Middle School with an additional Success Coach implementing the CIS Model.
Based on the economy and funding reductions through grants, CIS made the decision to open three CIS Thrift Shops, located in Southport (May 2009), Sunset Beach (October 2009) and Boiling Spring Lakes (September 2010).
In December, CIS of Brunswick County began the CIS, Inc. Total Quality System accreditation process for certification. The national accreditation ensures best practices and TQS Standards are in place within proficient business management and effective program development.
Waccamaw Family Resource Center closed in April due to funding cuts after 15 years of service to the families of the Ash community. Peer Court expanded to Leland Middle School in August giving coverage to all four middle schools in the county. On October 12th the national CIS Total Quality System Governance Committee met and voted to confirm National Accreditation for CIS of Brunswick County, Inc.
As a business venue to increase revenues for the organization, The Red House Specialty Shops opened on Main Street in Shallotte as an expansion of the thrift shop vision. Based on revenues not meeting expectations, the venture reorganized to sub lease the shop for the duration of the one year lease contract.
CIS reorganized program support to provide a full time Success Coach/Peer Court Coordinator to South Brunswick Middle School. The Leland Family Resource Center officially closed based on funding challenges while ensuring existing services that had been offered to the community were assumed by other agencies and partners.
Founding Executive Director, Cynthia Tart, resigns after 19 years, moving on to a position with CISNC. Nancy Lamb was hired as Executive Director. A 21st Century Learning Center Program was started in two middle schools (Cedar Grove and Shallotte).
CIS of Brunswick County received reaccreditation from CIS National. The national accreditation ensures best practices and Total Quality System Standards are in place within proficient business management and effective program development.
CIS opened a fourth thrift shop located in Leland (July). The Dropout Prevention Program expanded to provide a Success Coach at Waccamaw School, a combined elementary/middle school (August). This expansion will allow CIS to provide dropout prevention services to elementary level students and families.
Bonnie Jordan, BSW was hired as only the third Executive Director of CIS of Brunswick County in 22 years.