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Core Values

Our Core Values

To best support the students, families, schools, community partners, and our staff members involved in this work, CIS of Tennessee staff and board members center all decisions, actions, and services on the following core values:



We openly share how our work is done, and we hold ourselves accountable to the commitments we make.

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We intentionally build relationships so we can learn about people’s stories, validate their experiences, and deepen our understanding of situations different from our own.



We identify and work towards removing individual and systemic barriers, so everyone has the same opportunity to achieve.

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We create space for the people we work with, and for, to be their truthful, complete selves without judgement.



We bring people together to plan and take action in our work, understanding we make lasting change in partnership with one another.

Our History


The Communities In Schools (CIS) National Office, as well as our partners at the Creative Artists Agency and the Martha O'Bryan Center, were instrumental in launching and charting a course for CIS of Tennessee's work in the East Nashville community in school year 2012-13. Through a Promise Neighborhoods planning grant, the Martha O’Bryan Center brought together a network of 27 partner organizations. These partners developed a continuum of programs and supports to close the opportunity gap for individuals and families living in some of East Nashville’s most distressed neighborhoods. Recognizing a critical need for integrated students supports, CIS of Tennessee was founded. 


Since our launch, CIS of Tennessee has grown from serving 600 students across three schools in East Nashville into the largest provider of integrated student supports in the state of Tennessee, partnering with 42 schools across 14 counties to meet the needs of over 19,000 students. CIS of Tennessee's history of success is based on a foundational belief in the power of relationships. No child can succeed without the support of caring adults.

Founding Task Force

Founding Task Force

CIS of Tennessee’s Founding Task Force, comprised of several forward-thinking community leaders, helped to forge key partnerships in the Nashville community necessary for long-term sustainability and programmatic excellence.

Alene Arnold

Teach Plus Tennessee

Lonnell Matthews

Metro Government of 
Nashville & Davidson Co.

Danielle Mezera

DCM Consulting

Jim Shulman

Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disability

Jeff Yarbro

Tennessee State Senator

Hal Cato

Community Foundation of MidTN

Sean McCray

HCA Healthcare

Kathryn Kubiak-Rizzone

Values Added Financial

Ronnie Steine


Alice Chapman

MP&F Communications

Candice McQueen

Tennessee Department of Education

Julie Simone

Lipscomb University

Kaki Friskics-Warren

Dan & Margaret Maddox Charitable Fund

National CIS Network

Communities In Schools was established in the 1970s when founder Bill Milliken, then a youth advocate in New York City, devised the concept of bringing community resources inside public schools—where they are accessible, coordinated, and accountable.

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It’s relationships, not programs, that change children. A great program simply creates the environment for healthy relationships to form between adults and children. Young people thrive when adults care about them on a one-to-one level, and when they also have a sense of belonging to a caring community.

Bill Milliken

   Founder & Vice Chairman of Communities In Schools, Inc.

Over forty years into our mission, Bill's principals continue to guide our work. Operating in more than 2,300 schools in the most challenged communities of 25 states and the District of Columbia, CIS serves nearly 1.5 million young people and their families each year.

DEI Statement 

Communities In Schools® (CIS®) believes that transformative relationships are key to unlocking a student's potential. We will succeed by including in our strategies, ingraining in our culture, and reflecting in our behaviors, principles and practices of diversity, equity, and inclusion. As a result, we break down immediate and systemic barriers to create and sustain equitable outcomes.  

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