Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania C.A.R.E.s For Its Community
The core values of many organizations are held up as a north star, but not all actively adhere to them. During the summer of 2021, Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania (CISEasternPA) engaged in a collaborative process to identify and specify our core values as an organization. To guide our affiliate's strategic direction, drive our decisions, and keep ourselves accountable, we identified several core values at the agency's center.
Through a nomination process, six CISEasternPA professionals were selected to participate as members of the core values team. These participants were joined by two board members and two external consultants. The group read and reflected on the book “Dare to Lead” by Brene Brown, which encourages vulnerability in building strong leadership. The book also contributed to facilitating the conversation and highlighting what CISEasternPA does well while acknowledging where we can improve.
After the process was completed, four core values were identified, and an acronym emerged that tied all of the values together. The acronym, C.A.R.E., stands for Connection, Accountability, Relationships, and Equity. Those four words encapsulate our organization's identity and truly explain why we do what we do.
Connection– CISEasternPA builds community by bridging the gap between area resources and the students it serves. Our agency professionals empower students, support families, and elevate districts through public and private partnerships. This web of support creates opportunities and removes barriers for students to achieve in life.
Accountability–CISEasternPA operates within an evidence-based, continuous improvement model where goals are created, and successes are measured each school year. Our national quality and assurance standards are data-focused and help guide operations locally to ensure our model is executed with fidelity.
Relationships– CISEastern PA prides itself on building transformational relationships with our students and families by creating a compassionate and restorative culture where every day is a new beginning. Our relationship-centered approach means working for trust, intentionality, and transparency with partners, CIS team members, volunteers, and stakeholders. We believe every relationship is an important relationship.
Equity– CISEasternPA challenges practices that limit access to opportunities for our students and families. We leverage a diverse, inclusive, and anti-racist support network to break down systemic barriers in schools and beyond. We prioritize and celebrate the experiences of our diverse employees, board members, volunteers, and community providers in fostering an empowered and engaged community.
“The whole process allowed us to recenter and refocus,'' said Mike McCorristin, executive vice president, CISEasternPA. “These values will be woven into the fabric of how we approach things from recruiting new employees, professional development of our current site professionals, and strategic planning for the future.“
Although these core values have been established, the process is not over, as the executive leadership team will put these values into action over the next few years. It was a long process to establish these values, and CISEasternPA wants to ensure that the principles are practiced across all areas of the agency, ensuring that we are continuously thinking about the students and families we serve.