Charlotte nonprofit connects kids with tutors, food and more

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte nonprofit wants families to know it can help more students navigate challenges at school and at home.

Communities in Schools (CIS) coordinators work with 53 Title I Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to connect students with tools to help them inside and outside of the classroom, such as tutoring, food, and counseling.

Leaders say it has been harder to recruit students during virtual learning, and they have the capacity to help many more.

Channel 9 anchor Brittney Johnson spoke to Men Tchaas Ari, the new president and CEO of CIS Charlotte.

Ari is the first Black person to serve as the head of CIS Charlotte. He stepped into the role in October 2020, as COVID-19 disproportionately impacted children of color and their education.

Ari said he’s committed to closing achievement gaps that existed before and during the pandemic.

“As a black man, as a CEO of CIS Charlotte, I can’t enjoy my children’s success if there’s thousands of other Black and brown kids who aren’t succeeding,” Ari said. “So this job has given me an opportunity to make sure that all kids -- Black and brown kids, white kids, Latinx kids -- that all kids have the ability to succeed.”

Ari said for CIS, helping kids succeed during the pandemic has meant assisting students with thousands of service requests ranging from helping create study spaces, to getting earbuds and applying to college. The organization has also helped parents who struggled with some of the technical challenges of remote learning.

Coordinators also audit virtual classes to cut down on absenteeism.

“Our site coordinators are saying, ‘Hey, this is not like you, what’s going on? How can I support you?’ So, we’ve been able to come in there and really buttress them and provide them the support that they need to turn it around,” Ari said.

If you want help for your student or could use more support as a parent, find out if Communities in Schools is in your child’s school here.