Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta gets families excited about reading

UPDATE: Check out even more images in this photo gallery.

We just got this great news from Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta…

In many schools, low levels of parental engagement can pose challenges for students and school staff alike. For that reason, Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta, an award-winning, Atlanta-based dropout prevention organization, makes parental engagement a priority at its 75 partner schools in Atlanta and DeKalb County. When the organization was one of just three programs across the country presented with the chance host a family literacy event in partnership with Reading Is Fundamental and Pitney Bowes, they immediately seized the opportunity.

“We look for every opportunity to involve parents. We believe in building genuine relationships with our parents and empowering them to get more involved in the educations of their children. Having a strong base of support at home is a critical part of kids succeeding in school,” said Patricia Pflum, Executive Director of Communities In Schools of Atlanta.

The event was hosted at CIS of Atlanta partner school, Cleveland Avenue Elementary, on May 20 and invitations were extended to the parents and students of CIS partner school Heritage Academy. Both schools are a part of the organization’s Reading Is Fundamental program which provides each student in participating schools with three new books to build their home libraries each year. CIS of Atlanta is the largest Reading Is Fundamental partner in the state of Georgia, distributing more than 22,000 new books to over 6,700 young people annually.

At several CIS partner schools, students struggle to read on grade level. The Family Literacy Block Party was designed to address that challenge by getting parents engaged and making certain reading is a priority for children during the quickly approaching summer months. The Family Literacy Block Party featured communication-themed activity stations in recognition of corporate sponsor Pitney Bowes, free books for children in attendance and a family barbeque and fish fry.

“Pitney Bowes is a proud sponsor of Reading Is Fundamental at the national level. Our Atlanta office was thrilled to bring volunteers out to support a great organization like CIS of Atlanta, which is in our own backyard,” shared Catina Costner, Area Customer Service Manager, with Pitney Bowes.

Atlanta City Councilman Michael Julian Bond was struck by the number of parents in attendance.

“I have never seen anything this. To see this many parents at an event during the afterschool hours is unheard of. The City Council will be honoring Communities In Schools of Atlanta for their outstanding work,” said Bond as he helped children select books for their home libraries at one of the activity stations. Fellow City Council colleague, Preston Harden (pictured, above) of the Office of Atlanta City Council President Ceasar Mitchell, was also on hand, helping students with art projects during the event.

An unprecedented 375 Atlanta parents and nearly 700 children attended the Family Literacy Block Party on May 20.

“Communities In Schools of Atlanta is one of our model Reading Is Fundamental partners in the nation. What they have managed to accomplish—getting this many children and parents excited about reading at this level—is incredible. We want to duplicate what CIS of Atlanta has done here across the country,” said Steven Leach, Vice President of Government Relations and Community Outreach with Reading Is Fundamental.

“This was so much fun,” said Cleveland Avenue Elementary third-grader Shamiya Thomas. “The best part was getting new books. I want to have this at my school again real soon!”

About Communities In Schools (CIS) of Atlanta
CIS of Atlanta is an award-winning dropout prevention organization that has been surrounding children with a community of support, empowering them to succeed in school and achieve in life since 1972. Through partnerships with Atlanta Public Schools, Project GRAD and DeKalb County Schools, CIS of Atlanta is impacting more than 46,000 students at 75 partner schools during the 2009-2010 school year. For more information, please visit http://www.cisatlanta.org.

About Pitney Bowes
Celebrating its 90th year of innovation, Pitney Bowes provides software, hardware and services that integrate physical and digital communications channels. Long known for making its customers more productive, Pitney Bowes is increasingly helping other companies grow their business. Pitney Bowes is a $5.6 billion company and employs 33,000 worldwide. Pitney Bowes: Every connection is a new opportunity. http://www.pb.com

About RIF
Reading Is Fundamental, Inc. (RIF), founded in 1966, motivates children to read by

working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life. RIF’s highest priority is reaching underserved children from birth to age 8. Through community volunteers in every state and U.S. territory, RIF provided 4.4 million children with 15 million new, free books and literacy resources last year. For more information and to access reading resources, visit http://www.rif.org.

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