Dear Friends,

CISSC has been fortunate to be able to have internal and external conversations about DEI in the last several years and more so in the last year. Our Board has recently declared that “we are committed to a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment where all board members, staff, volunteers, and members feel respected and valued regardless of gender, age, race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation or identity, disability, education, or any other bias.”

That is a significant commitment. We have been challenged to understand our own implicit biases, our unspoken thoughts that form our opinions, and a willingness to change the way we do business. We were able to have staff discussions facilitated by Natasha Marin, noted author and consultant. Natasha encouraged our staff to say in front of others what they were afraid of the most in having this conversation. The very first person said, “I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing.” Natasha responded, “you just said what everyone else was going to say.”

The time has come to stop being afraid to ask and to be analytical about the racism that exists in our community. We hope that as we emerge from one of the most difficult years in the history of our nation, everyone associated with us will be honest with us about how we can do better. We have only made a start and we’re willing to listen and put in the work. Thanks to everyone in advance for that assistance.


Chuck Teegarden
Executive Director
Student Success Story

Tayla Tollefson is a Junior at Ferris High School with a lifetime of achievements under her 17 year old belt. She is a member of the National Honors Society and is a cheerleader for the Saxons. She sits on the Teen Board of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Inland NW and was selected to the Student Advisory Committee to the Superintendent for SPS. She is a Titleholder in the Teen Division of the Miss America Organization and is Miss Lilac City’s Outstanding Teen and her platform is promoting Reading in Youth.

In fact she published her first book titled “Wait”, a compilation of 26 short stories based on stories that her grandfather would tell her. Tayla described her book as “fun and scary stories, but with a twist. Each instance where the characters are afraid, they always find a logical explanation … proving that your imagination can cause you to jump to all kinds of conclusions.” She credits her Freshman English Teacher for her enthusiasm to write. “He was so supportive and made writing fun”

Books are important to her and she is already talking about her next idea for a book. When schools shutdown in 2020 due to the pandemic, her passion for reading sparked an idea to share books with as many children as possible. She worked hard with community partners have book drives and donated 800 books to several SPS Elementary school and local child serving non-profits.

Tayla’s warmth, kindness and passion shine through. She has a positive outlook on life and is not afraid to put in the work to achieve her goals. In her free time Tayla enjoys horseback riding and would like to learn to barrel race. When asked who her hero was she said “My Mom, she is amazing and supportive” She keeps her grounded. We asked how, “She reminds me that I still have to get my chores done!” As for her future goals she runs track and trains for the Junior Olympics. She's hoping to qualify again this summer. After high school Tayla says, “I want to go to Law School and become a corporate attorney.” We have no doubt that this Spokane teen will go far!

“Wait” is available for sale at the following stores and websites; Amazon , Barnes & Noble, and Auntie's Book Store. 
CIS Superstar
This month, we are featuring Gina Ferraiuolo. Gina has just begun delivering our meal kits and we were so thankful for her support and love how she immediately responded to the opportunity. We wanted to get to know Gina better and she obliged us. Thank you Gina!

How did you hear about this volunteer opportunity? Anthony Carollo, Vista Title and Escrow’s CEO presented this volunteer opportunity to the employees and encouraged us to participate schedule permitting!

 What made you decide to serve with Communities In Schools? During the current climate children in need are faced with more difficult obstacles to overcome. Working for an organization that allows us to assist those less fortunate aligns with the core of who I am. Our children need to eat, and I chose to help these families to take one more challenge off their plate.

 Why is volunteering in our community important to you? Growing up in this beautiful community you naturally gravitate to ‘give back’. The Spokane community is like a ‘big little city within itself’ filled with compassion and care for those who live here. Volunteering in our community has always been very important to me to give back where and when I can. When my mom, brother and I moved to Spokane at a very young age we were that ‘family in need’ and people were always so kind and generous to help us in that earlier time period. Giving back is the least I can do as I remember being a young child and how it felt to have people reach out with a helping hand.

Contact Kelley Hinrichs, Director of Volunteer Services, for more information.
Mentor Mentee Highlight

Jada Richardson is a “spunky” high school senior at Innovation High School in Spokane and is in the Running Start program at Spokane Community College. She is passionate about social justice and has her eye on attending an Historic Black College and University (HBCU). She is interested in political science and how policy works. One of Jada’s mentors is Nicole Rosenkrantz and they make an amazing team, modeling what a successful mentor/mentee partnership can really be.

“I am attracted to working with spunky teens” says Nicole and she believes it is important to meet the students where they are at and let them be themselves. She supports Jada along her journey and lifts her up allowing her to meet her full potential. And Jada has a lot of potential, she was the Spokane Philanthropy Award Winner in 2019, volunteering more than 100 hours at the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Center. She is the Chair of the Chase Youth Commission in Spokane and is the youngest member of the NAACP Executive Committee. She is also involved in the OSPI Student Safety and Wellbeing Committee Youth Advisory Council.

The magic they have lies in the fact that they enjoy each other’s company, respect each other and check in on each other. A good mentor can help guide you through systems and since “they got through it, you know you can too” says Jada. She creates her own path and Nicole supports her on her journey. It is not the mentor’s responsibility to mold the mentee. Jada has learned through experience that it’s important that her mentor operates in the same spaces that she wants to be in and does the things she aspires to do, “Nicole shows me the ropes”. Jada has had mentors before, “I am a spunky child, I’m advanced in certain things, I have confidence. I’ve been mislabeled and used as a token.” She believes that it is important for “Black girls to have Black female mentors because they understand the experiences we go through. They get what I am talking about, they look like me and it’s good to know they have my back!”

It is inspiring to watch Nicole and Jada and listen to their story. Our youth may not need mentors, but it sure does make life easier having someone in your corner, cheering you on and encouraging you on your journey.

Be a mentor!
Our Voice

We are introducing a new column, called "our Voice". This column is an opportunity for all our students to share what is on their minds. If you know, or are a student that would like to submit an article please email

Reach Out - Be Involved
By Tayla Tollefson

COVID–19 … the pandemic that swept the world over the past year has taught us many things about ourselves.
We learned that we are very social people and that we need each other to be happy and healthy. We crave social interaction. It’s something we need for reassurance, a sense of inclusion, for an exchange of ideas, and a perspective of how we fit into the world.
We saw how the isolation impacted us. The mental health issues that arose due to the separation from others was concerning. We learned that having students participate in school online impacted the ability of kids to learn effectively. The importance of in-person school and that social interaction are vital to successful learning.
The inability to gather in groups was difficult for many. Without the fellowship and friendships we develop and strengthen through our interactions we fall into self-doubt and it takes a toll on our self-worth.
Now, as restrictions are lifted we can emerge from our quarantined existence and greet the world again. We have a new sense of community. We realize that we need each other and how important people are for our well-being.
So, I would encourage everyone to see our communities in a new perspective. This is an opportunity to make a difference. There is a real sense of fulfillment in giving back to the community. We witnessed the pride of the people gathering food for those in need. It was very inspiring.
Jump into the community. Reach out and lend a helping hand where it’s needed. Have a book drive for kids who will delight in the stories. Volunteer at the schools. Help out at the food banks. There are many so ways to participate.
So, reach out and become involved.
Upcoming Events
3rd Annual Blue Jean Ball Saturday May1st, 2021!

Break out your boots for the
3rd Annual Blue Jean Ball! 

Tickets for this years virtual and in-person event can be purchased at

Sponsorships are available. Contact Debra Raub at

Volunteer Opportunities

We are looking for volunteers!

We are in need of support from community members like you. Please see the volunteer opportunities listed below. Please contact our Volunteer Director, Kelley Hinrichs for more information.

We are looking for community volunteers to deliver food kids and Bites 2 Go bags during the week to families in need. 

This is a contactless option and can be done on a reoccurring or short term scheduled basis. Days and time commitments we are looking to fill are as follows:

Shaw Middle School Delivering meal kits to area families. Days needed for service are listed below:

  • Anytime Monday to deliver school 5-day-meal kits to students. It will probably take 1.5 hours. 
  • Anytime Tuesday to deliver 5-day-meal-kits to students. This will also take about 1.5 hours. 
  • Bite2Gos food deliveries on Fridays. Can be done anytime. Ideally 1-2 hours volunteer

Garry Middle School 2 to 3 Volunteer drivers are needed on Thursday afternoons.

Volunteers will pick up food bags for families from Garry anytime between 2:30-3:30 and then drop bags at families' homes. Deliveries shouldn't take more than half an hour.

PrimeTime Mentoring Training

For PrimeTIme Mentoring training times please contact:

Contact Kelley Hinrichs, Director of Volunteer Services, for more information.