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The Power of One - Why Merge?

Posted By: Jamie Cooper For Good Connections ,

As nonprofit leaders we see challenges as opportunities.

Jamie Cooper,

President & CEO

Communities in Schools

South Carolina

Opportunities for innovation and collaboration to bring what is possible within reach for those we serve.  

Across South Carolina, approximately 61% of students attending public school live in poverty. Without community support, they are more at risk for missing school, dropping out and failing to earn a high school diploma. 

For 30 plus years, our state's network of Communities In Schools (CIS), (CIS of Greenville, Midlands, and the Charleston Area) have surrounded students with a community of support, empowering them to stay in school and achieve in life.

However, there are students, schools and communities we have not been able to serve as three separate, urban based organizations. 

So, the obvious question was asked: how do we do more?   

Bridging relationships between schools, students and the community.

Two years ago, the three organizations began a discussion around statewide expansion through merger that would allow us to strengthen, deepen and grow strategically. 

We even re-evaluated during the Covid-19 pandemic to determine if merger was still the best option.  In the end, it was clear to our board and executive team that a merger of our program was needed.  

Effective,January 1, 2021, the three affiliates officially merged to form:  Communities In Schools of South Carolina (CISSC). 

A statewide merger allows us to: Strengthen, Deepen, Grow

  • Strengthen our existing infrastructure and regional program design 
  • Deepen our program footprint by completing feeder systems and sister feeder systems 
  • Grow strategically throughout this state to reach more students, more schools, and more communities - particularly in rural communities

Over the past eight months our team has been focused on internal policies, procedures, communications, and culture. 

We have aligned around a refreshed commitment to the fidelity of our evidence-based program model and data driven strategic planning that utilizes outcomes and student, parent or caregiver, and alumni voices to fuel our work and as we drive into the future. 

This week, we will announce our statewide merger externally through a vision of:  The Power of One.  The Power of One echoes CIS’s longstanding belief that it takes one person, one moment, one opportunity to impact the trajectory of a student’s life.  

We all know our work within this state cannot be isolated or siloed.  It’s through collective efforts where systems change and community culture shifts. 

If your organization see possibilities in serving a greater constiuency through a possible merger with like-minded groups, we would be glad to share our process in greater detail. Below are five questions to get you started.

We look forward to partnering with community leaders across the state as we aim to serve all of our state's communities. 

Considering Merger? Five Questions to ask yourself…

  1. What is your organization's greatest challenge/opportunity? 
  2. What is the goal? 
  3. Does your strategy focus on a strategic pathway to sustainability and overall health of your organization? 
  4. What could be potential internal and/or external hurdles your organizaton will face? 
  5. What stakeholders should be present for these conversations? 

EDITOR'S NOTE:  Together SC invited Jamie to share the CISSC story, to highlight the opportunities we to better serve our entire state when we move beyond our urban areas. Here is one helpful resouces from LaPiana.