Communities in Schools of Ottawa is merging with a larger network.
The program will now work in conjunction with Communities in Schools of Mid-America, rather than standing independently.
“If we remained on our own, we might have been able to remain sustainable potentially for one more year...our biggest goal was to keep Communities in Schools in Ottawa,” Rachel Smith, executive director of CIS of Ottawa, said.
The change comes as a result of a reduction in grant funding, and the opportunity to continue to provide services to students by combining with CIS of Mid-America, Smith said. CIS of Mid-America’s region-wide network serves Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa and Missouri.
“Our national office has a lot of amazing practices and standards, and it’s the same across the board — it doesn’t matter if you’re a large Communities in Schools, or a small town,” Smith said. “...It became very complicated and difficult for a very small nonprofit to operate under those standards.”
Ottawa’s CIS organization was adopted by the school district in 2008, according to Herald archives.
One of the biggest changes with the combination is that CIS will no longer offer the Reach for the Stars after school program, Smith said. The program served 120 students, and had been in existence for 10 years.
This year, the program completed its final year of a second, five-year grant cycle, according to Herald archives.
In the 2016-17 school year, CIS was not able to put a site coordinator in all five school buildings, Smith said in an earlier interview with the Herald. They still served all five schools, but only had site coordinators in four.
As for immediate changes in the upcoming school year, CIS will no longer have staff in elementary schools, but will continue to have full-time staff members at Ottawa Middle School and Ottawa High School.
The organization will continue to offer as many programs as it can, Smith said, including some basic needs program, like Weekend Warriors. The local community has stepped up to help continue that program.
“We’re just thrilled to remain providing services in Ottawa, and helping provide students with resources they need,” Smith said.