Communities in Schools of Chicago receives $4M grant from MacKenzie Scott to help provide support for 50,000 CPS students

This is part of a larger gift to the national Communities in Schools organization.

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A Chicago Public Schools classroom

Communities In Schools of Chicago secured a $4 million grant that will go to helping provide additional support for more than 50,000 Chicago Public School students, the organization announced Thursday.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times file

Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott continues to dish out her fortune at an impressive rate — and one of Chicago’s largest education nonprofits is reaping the benefits this week.

Communities In Schools of Chicago secured a $4 million grant from Scott that will go to help provide additional support for more than 50,000 Chicago Public Schools students, the organization announced Thursday.

The donation — part of a much larger $133.5 million gift from Scott to the national Communities In Schools organization — comes at a time when schools are entering their third year of facing unprecedented challenges amid the pandemic, including social isolation and economic and mental health crises. The new funding will allow Communities In Schools of Chicago to continue to provide services to at-risk students aimed at helping them stay on track and perform well in school.

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“This gift, from one of the world’s most astute and influential philanthropists, further validates the importance of our team’s work supporting 50,000 students each year,” Communities In Schools of Chicago CEO Jane Mentzinger said in a statement. “Ms. Scott’s philanthropy consistently reflects her commitment to promoting equity for all students. That’s exactly what CIS of Chicago is about.”

For nearly 35 years, Communities In Schools has provided academic and other support resources for at-risk students at its 175 CPS partners. The services include counseling and supportive guidance, one-on-one support and group interventions, additional mental-health training for teachers, staff and parents, as well as offering resources for students and families struggling amid the pandemic.

Communities in Schools’ goal is to form transformative relationships with students that will help them reach their full potential.

“By surrounding them with a network of trust they can turn to no matter where they are in their journey, we empower students to confront and overcome personal challenges and structural barriers — so they can take charge of the future they want for themselves, their communities and each other,” the organization’s website said.

Rey Saldana, president and CEO of Communities In Schools National, released a statement, saying: “Today is an important day for students who are underserved, under-resourced, and in need of supports to build a brighter future.”

“This unrestricted gift allows us to combat the inequities in public education and reimagine the way schools operate and show up for all students,” he continued.

Scott, the world’s third-wealthiest woman, has donated more than $8.5 billion to charities since her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, according to Forbes.

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