Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania Receives Major Gift from the Mackenzie Scott Foundat

The largest gift in the local organization’s history will accelerate its reach to the highest need communities in the Lehigh Valley and Berks County.

Imagine the surprise Tim Mulligan experienced when he learned that students in the Lehigh Valley and Berks regions would benefit from a seven-figure, unsolicited, unexpected financial windfall. “The news was truly humbling, and we are grateful for the trust and confidence placed in our programs to impact the lives of even more students and families.”

The President and CEO of Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania (CISEasternPA) announced this morning that the local affiliate is one of forty in the Communities In Schools network to receive funding from the lauded philanthropist, Mackenzie Scott. The latest round of resources from the author and former wife of Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, comes at a time when many area nonprofits face budget concerns in the midst of a global pandemic.

Locally, CISEasternPA received $3.3 million. While plans are far from finalized, the goal of the organization is to grow operational excellence to better build sustainable systems inside schools, conduct effective advocacy, and empower more students to move beyond the barriers they face in school and out.

Communities In Schools national office (CIS) was notified of a $133.5 million unrestricted grant from the Scott Foundation. Approximately $113.5 million of the donation will go directly to 40 funder selected CIS local affiliates (of 110 in the CIS network) to support and expand their operations in schools and communities. CIS learned that its record of proven success serving students across the country along with its ability and emphasis of creating educational and racial equity was identified as an important, investable pillar for the Mackenzie Scott Foundation’s investment.

“This generous investment is the largest in CISEasternPA history, which started serving area youth nearly 40 years ago,” stated Maria Esposito, Vice President of Advancement for CISEasternPA. “The gift is a testament to our organization’s success at creating donor value through significant measured outcomes. The funds will allow us to broaden and deepen our commitment to children, ensuring long term sustainability and excellence for our programs.”

An agency that removes nonacademic barriers that keep students from achieving academically and in life, CISEasternPA currently serves 37,000 students in 40 schools across 10 districts.

Continues Mulligan, “CISEasternPA services schools in the third and fourth largest Title I districts in the state behind Philadelphia and Pittsburgh - Reading and Allentown. In the coming months, we will work closely with our board to determine strategies with a focus on expanding and accelerating efforts to build more transformative relationships with students. This influx will help make some hard funding decisions a little easier, but our goal to reach the most deserving students in the region requires continuous support.”

Esposito adds, “This gift will leverage the partnership of our local funders and donations to address the ongoing crisis the pandemic has had on schools and students. It is critical that communities come together to enable support to serve the growing demand for CISEasternPA and that cannot be accomplished without the generosity of local donors and foundations. All donors are imperative to the success of CISEasternPA to strengthen the public and private partnerships that allow our organization to grow and sustain.”

Along with the organization’s unique model for student success, CISEasternPA is also committed to building a community where everyone and every culture is treated with dignity and respect. With the guidance of an internal DEI committee comprised of CISEasternPA coordinators, administrators, and board members, the group has been focusing its anti-racism efforts on breaking down systemic barriers that disproportionately keep students of color from succeeding inside and outside the classroom.

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