• November 24, 2014

With help from United Way, Communities in Schools looks out for youth

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Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2013 4:30 am

For students in Central Texas, Kevin Moody has your back.

“We want to make sure they have someone in their corner,” he said of the students at Killeen High School, where he is a Communities in Schools of Central Texas site coordinator. “When we say we believe in them, we mean it.”

The goal of the nonprofit is dropout prevention, said Michael Dewees, executive director. The program serves youth who fall under the categories of being at-risk academically, receive free or reduced lunch, or have a family conflict or crisis.

People think students drop out because of academics, Moody said, but oftentimes, there are outside issues.

“When a hungry kid goes home, homework isn’t going to be on their mind,” Dewees said.

The national organization was founded in 1977 and today spans 27 states, with 28 local affiliates in Texas alone. Communities in Schools of Central Texas covers seven school districts, providing 53 professional staff members in 49 school campuses.

The United Way of Greater Fort Hood Area funding assists with needs in the Killeen and Cove school districts, while the agency receives funding from two other United Way groups to cover its five other districts.

“We want them to graduate and be successful, for them, the community and society in general,” Dewees said of the greater purpose behind their mission.

Academics, behavior and attendance are just some of the areas of focus for the nonprofit. They also refer students to other agencies to meet their needs.

“There’s no typical day,” Moody said.

During the first week of December, five students at his school needed help obtaining eyeglasses, and another asked for a coat.

Enrichment activities include trips to local colleges and sporting events to build character, Moody said, “so other obstacles aren’t

so insurmountable.”

The United Way of Greater Fort Hood Area provided $39,000 to the agency last year, which contributed to the organization’s $2.5 million budget.

“We’re very appreciative of the funds,” Dewees said.

Without it, the agency would be forced to cut positions, he said.

“It shows that the community is behind us, and we can leverage that to find other funding to continue our mission.”

The agency receives grant and state funding as well.

For Moody, the need for Communities in Schools services is clear.

“I would have been a CIS kid if we had CIS,” he said. “I had people in my community who helped me ... and now I have an opportunity to do this.”

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