Communities In Schools is an organization with a mission to surround students with a community of support, to empower them to stay in school and achieve in life.
Over forty years ago Communities In Schools began when founder Bill Milliken thought of bringing coordinated community resources inside public schools so they could be more readily accessible to students.
Now Communities In Schools serves over 2,000 sites through affiliates in 26 states, serving over 1.5 million students including students in the Puyallup School District (PSD).
Our local affiliate, Communities In Schools of Puyallup (CISP), has partnered with the PSD since 2002 to bring services and programs to students who need them the most. CISP also encourages students to give back to their community. This has led to a district-wide program called March Gladness.
March Gladness is an annual community service event, coordinated by CISP, which encourages students in the Puyallup School District to engage in local community service. Each school in the PSD has a March Gladness coordinator to help kids create and participate in their projects. The program has grown to the point that schools now begin in January and go through March to allow more opportunity for students to get involved with service projects.
For a list of March Gladness projects for this year, please visit the project page on the March Gladness website.
March Gladness grew from the success of a joint Tsunami Relief Project coordinated by CISP in February of 2005. Later that year when Hurricane Katrina caused severe destruction along the gulf coast CISP responded once again, and both students and community leaders came together to take action by raising over $100,000 for schools in New Orleans.
As a result of the tremendous success of the community service projects, CISP continued to meet with community leaders to determine how to help keep students involved and making a difference in the community.
Their response was to create a wide variety of community service projects for students to have available and get involved with on a regular basis. This became known as March Gladness and has continued for over 10 years.
From 2007 to 2016 over 12,290 students have been involved in community service projects. $461,000 has been raised for local and global causes and approximately 182,500 items donated to charity.
In addition to the district-wide participation in March Gladness, there is a March Gladness Leadership Team consisting of junior high and high school students who meet monthly to discuss ways to get involved and serve their community. This year there are 58 students involved in the leadership team who have already volunteered 427 hours so far.
CISP has given students an opportunity to continue a tradition of excellence outside their schools and to bring a culture of service to their community.