Volume 1. Issue 1.
February 2019
Welcome to "Community Connection"
Welcome to the inaugural edition of "Community Connection". This monthly newsletter will keep you informed about what's going on at Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region, Inc. (CISDR).

As part our mission to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life, we have built on existing structures, partnerships, and evidence to find out what students need in the Dallas region. With that in mind, we have created the CISDR SafetyNet Project.
The SafetyNet Project provides Mental Health First Aid and CPR training to members of the community, so they can "see something, say something" when a child is in need. With this initiative, CISDR provides training, resources, and proven services that go to the root cause, call out behaviors, build coping skills and coach a child to become stronger, healthier, and far more than just good enough. In this newsletter, we will take a look at how SafetyNet makes this happen.
Preventing Suicide: Stephanie's Story
CISDR received a call from a distressed mother searching for help for her 8th grade daughter “Stephanie”. The school counselor had called to say that Stephanie was exhibiting signs of depression and self-harm. Two CISDR staff members trained in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA) reacted immediately and went to the home to interview both mother and daughter. They discovered the relationship between the two had become very strained as the mother had taken on additional hours at work, leaving Stephanie at home to care for herself and her special-needs older brother.
The mother told the CISDR staff that Stephanie had been researching and journaling about suicide and she had also been cutting herself. Stephanie was often physically exhausted, as she was up late each night caring for her brother. This exhaustion led to issues at school such as falling asleep in class, incomplete homework and missed assignments, as well as problems with her friends as Stephanie became mean and confrontational. The CISDR team created a sense of safety and trust for both the parent and the child during this high-crisis moment.

When interviewing Stephanie, the CISDR staff discovered that although not suicidal at this time, she did show signs of depression and a high degree of disengagement from family and friends. To address the underlying issues that Stephanie faced, CISDR staff gave her social and emotional support and engaged her in the use of tools to improve communication with her family and friends. They provided guidance to both Stephanie and her mother on ways to rebuild their relationship and worked with Stephanie to develop a list of people she could contact when feeling depressed.

Since then, CISDR staff have continued to reach out and see how Stephanie is doing, suggesting additional ways for her to engage in positive expression and to make sure she is prepared to enter high school.
Young Professionals Make a Difference
Energetic, focused and highly motivated are words used to describe the CISDR Leadership Council and especially their president Melanie Calzada (pictured here with a student). First organized in 2017, the Leadership Council is taking steps to bring a change to students’ lives through engaging young professionals in giving of their time, talents and energy to work with Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region.

The Leadership Council has identified these action items as their agenda for council members:
  • Support CISDR’s critical work for students and their families
  • Actively engage others in fundraising and advocacy
  • Build a love for philanthropy and service to the community
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Learn more about the vital work of CISDR
  • Gain high-quality volunteer experience

The ultimate goal of the Leadership Council is to prepare themselves for the opportunity to serve on the CISDR Board of Directors, using their experience as young professionals to learn from established community leaders and share their experiences to help future generations. The Leadership Council is looking for more highly motivated young professionals who are willing to give of themselves to make a difference in the life of a child. If this is you, please contact connectcis@cisdallas.org to be added to the event and meeting notifications. You may also like them on Facebook at facebook.com/cisdrjuniorboard.
Stepping Up to "Do The Write Thing"
For the third year in a row, CISDR has engaged our 6th to 8th grade students in the Do The Write Thing Challenge (DTWT Challenge) program. This initiative provides the students with a forum in which to have their voices heard and their ideas valued, all while fostering logic, creativity, and literacy. The DTWT Challenge encourages middle schoolers to reflect upon the causes and effects of bullying, abuse, and violence, helping to instill personal responsibility in these students.
This year, the CISDR Leadership Council took the responsibility of working with CISDR staff to coordinate the DTWT Challenge. Leadership Council members are helping to facilitate campus discussion groups, arrange for community volunteers to read the essays, and engage the students to get them involved.

Recognition and acknowledgement of all participants is an integral feature of the DTWT Challenge. Every student who submits an essay receives a Certificate of Recognition. Each paper is read by community volunteers, board members, and Leadership Council members who select a boy and girl with the most thought-provoking essays from each school as Student Finalists. The student finalists, their parents, CISDR Site Coordinators and CISDR admin staff are invited to a recognition celebration in Washington, DC, sharing their stories with other families from across the country.
Three Box Helps Us Make an Impact
Three Box Strategic Communications, founded by CISDR Board Chair Blake Lewis, has selected us as a beneficiary of its Three Box Impact program. This year, they chose to support organizations that champion education and empower students of all ages. CISDR was one of three local nonprofits to benefit, along with Vogel Alcove and the Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy.

“Three Box is thrilled to continue supporting CISDR’s work in schools throughout the Metroplex,” said Three Box CEO Amanda Hill. “We believe in the power of investing in students to reach their fullest potential. CISDR shows up, day in and day out, to make a life-changing impact on students in our community.”
Raul Ferrer: Employee of the Month
CISDR's Employee of the Month program recognizes staff whose job performance and overall contributions embody our mission. Our January 2019 Employee of the Month is Raul Ferrer at Finch Elementary in McKinney.

Raul, who has worked for CISDR for over 12 years, was nominated because "he is always looking for resources that will benefit his students and help with parent engagement. He works tirelessly to provide the services that his students need, and is well-known throughout McKinney ISD." Congratulations to Raul for being Employee of the Month!
SABA Gala Raises $9,000 for CISDR
Last October, the South Asian Bar Association of Dallas / Fort Worth held its 3rd Annual Benefit Gala, “A Night in Havana”. Thanks to Board Member Neel Gonuguntla, CISDR was chosen as a beneficiary of this event. Last month, SABA presented us with a check for $9,000. We greatly appreciated everybody who could come out to enjoy a fun night filled with delicious food, dancing, and mojitos, all while supporting CISDR.
Make CISDR Your Valentine
Looking for the perfect Valentine's Day gift? Use the link below to select CISDR as your Amazon Smile charity of choice. Amazon will then donate 0.5% of your purchases to Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region. Every bit helps support our mission of surrounding students with a community of support!

In What Kind of World?
What is your vision for a better world? What conditions are needed to realize it? What are the obstacles? What part of the vision are realistic, and what ideas, strategies and plans can make it so?

These are questions we ask every day at Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region (CISDR). At CISDR we envision a better world where every child – regardless of what part of town they are from, what school they go to, or who their parents are – have a safety net in place to ensure that they grow up and reach their full potential.
Communities In Schools provides that safety net. A safety net that helps them develop the emotional security they need to believe in themselves, a safety net that provides the academic counseling, tutoring and support they need to become enriched in their academic journey. Children as young as 6 years of age are able to discover a world larger than themselves – a world of opportunity and hope – thanks to Communities In Schools. That’s the world that we envision, and we hope you will help us build this world. Make an investment in this world of opportunity for thousands of children by donating to CISDR today.
Become a Part of the Safety Net
Become a part of the CISDR SafetyNet Project by getting trained to "see something, say something" when a child is in need. We are offering Youth Mental Health First Aid training sessions scheduled for the following dates:

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training
  • Saturday, March 2
  • Tuesday, March 5
  • Monday, April 22

In addition, we will be offering our first Mental Health First Aid for Adults next month, as schools and community members have asked for help identifying issues with parents, adult family members and community members (volunteers) who may also be experiencing issues and in need of assistance. Go to cisdallas.org/mhfa to register for a Youth or Adult MHFA session.

Adult Mental Health First Aid Training
  • Saturday, March 23

Our community does everything in its power to keep our students safe, sometimes that means responding to a crisis situation on a school campus, a playground or at home. As the number of school based supportive services are stretched thin, we are helping to train the community in First Aid, CPR and the use of an AED. Sessions are scheduled for the following dates:

First Aid/CPR/AED Training
  • Friday, February 15

Visit cisdallas.org/cpr to learn more today. By training community members like you in Mental Health First Aid and CPR, we can strengthen the safety net that keeps our kids safe.
Upcoming CISDR Trainings & Events
February 2019
  • First Aid/CPR/AED Training: Friday, February 15
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: Monday, February 18 (registration full)

March 2019
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: Saturday, March 2
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: Tuesday, March 5
  • Mental Health First Aid for Adults: Saturday, March 23

April 2019
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid: Monday, April 22

September 2019
  • 8th Annual CISDR Golf Tournament: Monday, September 30
Stay Connected to Our Community!
Thank you to for taking the time to catch up with CISDR. Please visit cisdallas.org to learn more about us, and stay connected on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
Our Mission
The mission of Communities In Schools of the Dallas Region to surround students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.