Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Keith Labrie:21 years of Exceptional Service

Twenty one years ago, Keith Labrie came to CIS Houston from Tenneco, where he was a Senior Accountant in joint ventures. He says that when he was introduced to CIS and Executive Director, Cynthia Clay Briggs, he “was immediately impressed with the organization and its leadership.” Still, when he joined on, he did not expect to be with the organization for 21 years. He says “each year the work got more and more challenging… and I am now glad I stayed. I have seen through the years great work done by many people working together to achieve good things for others. Field staff, volunteers, partners, administrative staff and the board work extremely hard.”

All of us are glad he stayed, too!

We board members have enjoyed the luxury of Keith’s quiet self-assurance and stalwart stewardship of our finances. Ms. Clay Briggs says that Keith

is the CIS goodwill ambassador with respective school district financial managers and a champion for our cause. He understands the need for integrity in his department and works tirelessly to ensure that CIS’ financial practices follow strict and proper accounting procedures. This is evidenced by the results of yearly audits performed by numerous external independent audit sources.

This year we have once again received an unqualified audit report under his leadership. Ms. Clay Briggs continues: “Keith is a definite asset to our organization and his service far exceeds the responsibilities listed in his job description.”

Congratulations for twenty-one exceptional years of service, Keith!
We board members appreciate you more than you know!

The Happy Board member!

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Lifetime of Dedication Honored

Our illustrious leader, Cynthia Clay Briggs, just got more illustrious! She has been awarded the National Association of Social Workers Houston Lifetime Achievement Award.  Each year this honor is bestowed upon an individual who has exemplified the best social work values and accomplishments in their lifetime. As the 2010 choice for NASW’s Houston Chapter, Ms. Clay-Briggs will now be considered for Texas state-wide Lifetime Achievement honors. 

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), headquartered in Washington, DC, is the nation’s largest membership organization of professional social workers, with 150,000 members.  It promotes, develops and protects the practice of social work and social workers.  NASW also seeks to enhance the well-being of individuals, families and communities through advocacy.

The recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award must be dedicated members who: advocate for their clients; make demonstrable contributions in social policy, social work practice, program development, administration and research; demonstrate outstanding leadership and repeated outstanding achievements; have made contributions of lasting impact; and  have employed outstanding creativity.

Sounds like our Executive Director, alright!

Ms.Clay-Briggs has been a stalwart advocate for children in the Houston community.  Communities In Schools Houston’s 30 years of successful service to at-risk students remain a shining tribute of Ms. Clay-Brigg’s effective and dedicated leadership. We at Communities In Schools Houston are so very proud!

Both congratulations and good luck are in order!

Friday, March 05, 2010

Yes, 'Communities In Schools" DID Roll Off of the President's Lips! (Video)

At an event for the America's Promise Alliance, President Obama talked about education and curbing the national drop-out rate. As he discussed ways the $900 millions dollars in grants for schools and school districts will be applied, he promised that the unmet needs of under-served students would be addressed. He said:

"...That's why we'll build on the efforts of places like Communities In Schools, that make sure kids who are at-risk of dropping out have one-on-one support."

How awesome is that? It is very exciting and rewarding to have CIS's work recognized and supported by the President himself!

The America's Promise Alliance was founded in 1997 by General Colin Powell and his wife, Alma Powell. As their website states, "America’s Promise Alliance is a cross-sector partnership of more than 300 corporations, nonprofits, faith-based organizations and advocacy groups that are passionate about improving lives and changing outcomes for children." Their mission and "top priority" is "ensuring that all young people graduate from high school ready for college, work and life."

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why I'm Happy, by the Happy Board Member

The Happy Board Member gives…

Ten reasons why happiness is being on the Communities In School's Board of Directors:

1. CIS is the best run organization in town. And this is not Happy Board Member's own trumped-up gibberish. Check out what others are saying.

2. Our success rate with helping kids stay in school gives me goose bumps, it’s so high! 98% stay-in-school rate and 82% graduation rate!! See our Charity Review .

3. We have the most devoted and hard-working staff in existence…period!! At our 30th Anniversary Inservice, we celebrated an impressive list of long-time employees and outstanding service! Cynthia Clay Briggs, our fearless ED and friend, serving for 30 years and counting, tells us what devotion looks like:

The personal success of each CIS student continues to keep our staff coming to work every day. Each time one is the first in his family to graduate from high school and go to college, every time one breaks through barriers that kept her parents and grandparents from achieving their dreams, every time one returns as an accomplished adult to say, “I couldn’t have done it without CIS,” we have a fresh realization of our extraordinary opportunity to make an impact on young lives. We view it as among the highest of privileges and most serious of responsibilities, and we never forget this: We teach them how to fly, but they are the ones who take wing and soar!
4. The CIS Board is a group of party animals! Check out our Staff/ Board Mixer.

We know how to have a good time! Next Mixer February 25th. I’ll be there with bells on!!

5. We have devoted and generous donors and partners who GET IT! A seriously impressive bunch!

6. We really help parents.

7. We really help teachers.

8. We truly help families.

9. We’re really good at saving students.


10. We have our vey own theme song

The CIS board experience continues to be a joy and a gift. But you don’t have to take the Happy Board Member's word for it… Hear from the very mouths of other happy boards members like me….

Pat Rosenberg says

Happiness is meeting young people who have a great future ahead of them and assisting them in that journey.

Happiness is knowing that there is Communities in Schools at our zoned Lamar High School. Knowing that students have a place to go for support, help with life issues, someone to talk to and assistance n finding the resources that they need to be successful.
Dr. Ann Smith Barnes says

Happiness is amazingly visible impact…

It is amazing to work on a board in which the real-life benefits of the services you help to shape are tangible. Angelica Adams and Tony Martinez are remarkably dedicated CIS soldiers. The partnership they have established with UT Dental Branch is a model for how creative thinking and commitment to kids can result in a win-win for everyone! I relish the smiling “after” pictures of students who were devastated and depressed by poor dental health and who emerge smiling and confident after their dental work is complete. I don’t have to guess what Project MOVE is doing or wonder if they are good stewards of the resource they have been given. I need only look at the satisfying smiles of students to know that we are fulfilling our mission. Click HERE to see new video by UT Dental Branch
Ellen S. Morris says

Happiness is stability…
In my experience with the organization over the past 2-3 years I have seen that CIS is action-oriented. CIS staff and board member leaders have created a dynamic partnership that provides excellent communication, education and decisiveness, and as a consequence, stability. It is a pleasure to be part of such an efficient, effective group.

Enough Said?!?

The Happy Board Member

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Talitha Goes To Washington

Talitha Halley, Proud Sharptown High School's New Congressional Page

Talitha Halley is on her way to Washington. She has earned a post as a Congressional page for U.S.Representative Al Green. The Sharpstown High School junior's journey to Washington, DC has been a long and bumpy one. Born in New Orleans, Talitha came with her mother to Houston in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina. At Sharpstown, Talitha has busied herself by pursuing a path of excellence. She has a 3.3 grade point average; is a member of the Varsity volleyball team; and serves as the 11th grade Student Council Class Representative. Donna Wotkyns, CIS Project Manager at Sharpstown, says Talitha has been an inspiration during her three years on caseload. Talitha's attitude, boasts Ms. Wotkins, is reflected in one of her favorite quotes,"Never a failure, always a lesson," and is the foundation of her success.

In order to qualify for the U.S. House of Representatives Page Program, Talitha had to achieve at least a 3.0 G.P.A. and she had to write two essays. She was chosen out of 300 students and is the only one from Texas. She is now a part of a select group of 150 students, who receive a stipend and will take school classes while fulfilling their page duties.She will be in Washington from January 23rd to June 4th.

We at Communities In schools wish Talitha the very best! We know that she will represent Texas, Sharpstown High and CIS in a manner that will make us all so very proud!

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Special Thanks to The Masquerade Theatre

Communities In Schools Houston would like to thank The Masquerade Theatre for joining with us for a holiday toy drive. The Masquerade Theatre received toy donations on behalf of CIS at select perfomances of "A Christmas Carol." Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Holiday Cards on Sale

This year, we wanted to offer all of our friends and supporters the opportunity to purchase holiday cards featuring artwork by some of our very own students. We held a contest for Elementary, Middle, and High School students last month, and have chosen four winners.

These student drawn cards are on sale now! There are 15 cards in a box and you can choose one of the following designs.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season, and a healthy and peaceful New Year.

the tradition of giving,
the beauty of the season,
and a New Year of peace
and happiness.

the tradition of giving,
the beauty of the season,
and a New Year of peace
and happiness.

Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season, and a healthy and peaceful New Year.

The cost is $15 per box. Limited quanities are available so get yours today! To purchase a box of holiday cards, please call Heather Martin at 713-654-1515 x 172.