CIS to expand thanks to grant

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, February 1, 2023

A new grant will allow Communities in Schools of Georgia in Troup County to serve hundreds more students.

Communities in Schools of Georgia (CISGA) was recently named one the recipients of the Department of Education’s Full-Service Community Schools Program (FSCS) grant for its Georgia ACRES Project: Activating Communities for Rural Education Success.

The project aims to transform educational opportunities in six rural counties, including Troup County, across the state and serve as a model for other Georgia sites. The five-year, $3 million a year grant is one of the largest in the Department of Education history and the most extensive federal grant in CISGA history.

The other counties chosen were Ben Hill County, Berrien County, Candler County, Laurens County and Twiggs County.

Tabitha Lewis-Coverson, executive director of CISGA in Troup County, said the grant will allow the program to expand into more schools and serve more students.

“I’m currently serving all three middle schools, LaGrange High School and Berta Weathersbee Elementary,” Lewis-Coverson said. “With this funding, we will be able to expand into three additional elementary schools.”

Lewis-Coverson said CISGA looks to expand into Callaway Elementary and Clearview Elementary, with the third school to be determined.

Lewis-Coverson also said the program currently case manages approximately 500 students. The grant will allow that number to increase that number to 800 students.

Lewis-Coverson said the new funding will also be used to fund additional site coordinators’ salaries, programming, hiring a program assistant and to help find new streams of funding.

The organization currently serve around 3500 students on a whole school level, which is expected to grow to 4500 students that will have access to CISGA services and even though the organization does not currently have a coordinator in every school in TCSS.

TCSS Site coordinators assess a student’s needs, then provide direct services or make referrals to community partners to ensure a student has everything they need to succeed in and out of the classroom.

Lewis-Coverson said a big part of how Troup County was chosen for this grant was because of the community support.

“As part of this award, we had to show that community support, and it was really easy to reach out to community partners and ask for their support,” Lewis-Coverson said “I didn’t have any pushback or negative responses — everyone was in support of us. There’s a lot of support in this community, for our students, our schools and our families. The people in this community want to see everybody succeed, especially our kids.”

The new funding will allow CISGA to expand its staff.

“We will be growing. Right now, we have a staff of five, which will increase to a staff of nine,” Lewis-Coverson said. “… We have one of the best communities, not just in Georgia, but in the U.S., when it comes to the support and what this community is willing to do to make sure our students are successful.”