Get to Know Communities in Schools: Inside MacKenzie Scott’s $133 Million Donation to America’s Top Organization Focused on Preventing Student Dropouts

MacKenzie Scott (Taylor Hill/FilmMagic/Getty Images)

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CEO Rey Saldaña says he was sitting in a hotel room when the phone call came in from an unfamiliar number. On the other end, an unfamiliar speaker with surprising news: A mysterious donor was a fan of his organization, Communities in Schools, and was interested in making a sizable, unrestricted donation to help their work.

Saldaña, who assumed his leadership role at the student dropout prevention nonprofit the month before the pandemic shuttered America’s schools, told CBS Mornings Thursday that he initially had dreams of a $10 million donation that might accelerate his organization’s work in bringing additional mentors and additional support staff to campuses nationwide.

But he was off by a factor of 13.

In one of her largest personal donations ever made, MacKenzie Scott was awarding Communities in Schools with $133 million to support work across 18 states. As Saldaña told Gayle King, it will be a transformative gift to the organization:

In announcing the donation, the organization also said the funds will accelerate Communities in School’s campus-based staff work inside schools, through which they hope to “establish one-on-one relationships with students to help them navigate issues and move beyond barriers in the classroom, at home and in the community.” The funds will also support CIS in coordinting with schools and local service providers “to meet the needs of students and families, as well as providing critical resources, like food, housing, healthcare, counseling, access to remote technology and more, so that students and educators can focus on academics.”

Through the years, we’ve covered the organization’s work, impact and leadership in depth. Here’s everything you need to know about the work being done by Communities in Schools:

—Get to Know Rey Saldaña: From Communities in Schools Alumnus to Its New CEO, Saldaña Has a Great Backstory — But That Shouldn’t Mean Other Struggling Students Have To (Read the full profile)

—A Mission to Bring Communities Into Schools: Helping At-Risk Kids with Love — and Data (Read the full article)

—Celebrating Students: Video — Watch as Empowered Students Get a First Glimpse of Themselves and Their Lives Turned Into Art (Watch right here)

Siblings Brandon and Addyson, who both attend Carvajal Elementary School in the San Antonio Independent School District, show off a H-E-B grocery store gift card that Communities in Schools provided to families in need. Many couldn’t get to local food pantries because they lacked transportation or could not leave other family members to wait in line for hours. (Communities in Schools)

—COVID Response: When COVID-19 and Economic Fallout Put Millions of Kids in Unsafe Places, Communities in Schools Went In After Them (Read the full story)

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