Our Mission and History


CIS Founder Bill Milliken (left) with CIS President Dan Cardinalli

Communities In Schools began in the 1970's when founder Bill Milliken, a youth advocate in New York City, developed the idea of bringing community resources to students within public schools where they could be accessible, coordinated, and accountable. In the span of more than forty years, Communities In Schools has evolved and become the nation's leading drop-out prevention organization. The mission of the national organization and all of its local affiliates, including Kalamazoo, is to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life. Nowhere does the investment in that mission have the potential for greater return than Kalamazoo.


The Kalamazoo Public Schools, Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Kalamazoo developed us back in 2003. These three partners recognize that CIS is a powerful vehicle through which the community can work to empower students to stay in school and achieve in life. Times are tough and yet each remain committed to supporting us and have representation on the CIS Board of Directors. Here is what they have to say about us.



Our three founding partners


Kalamazoo Public Schools: "KPS salutes Communities In Schools and all those who work with it on a regular basis to partner with our schools. Together, we can make a stronger community, one that fully supports our children..." read more


The Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce: "The Kalamazoo Regional Chamber of Commerce recently celebrated 108 years as an organization. Our history is embedded with a clear recognition that education and economic vitality are interdependent. Our founding of Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo in 2003, along with the City of Kalamazoo and the Kalamazoo Public Schools, is a reflection of that recognition..." read more


The City of Kalamazoo: "The City of Kalamazoo has long understood the relationship of school success with community vitality, quality of life, and economic development. In 1998, the City leadership first approached the Kalamazoo Public Schools Board of Trustees with this idea of "Communities In Schools" as a way for the community and its resources to systematically support students, individual schools, and the school district in removing barriers and achieving greater success..."read more



We celebrate our partnerships and successes.

Click here to learn more on about our Champs Celebration!