Communities in Schools of Federal Way — Highline (CISFWH) hosted its annual fundraiser breakfast on March 10, celebrating 30 years of service to local students and their families.
The organization offers resource navigators, youth advocates and community organizers to help break down barriers to academic success. The Federal Way and Highline branch is a 19-person team.
The event, emceed by Decatur High School senior Eddy Kone, welcomed approximately over 120 attendees to Thomas Jefferson High School on March 10. The event raised more than $20,000, according to CISFWH.
Executive Director David de la Fuente said the organization is “a bridge between community, schools and students.” CISFWH is offered in schools across 25 states. In the Federal Way and Highline school districts, 99% of students who participate in CISFWH programs stay in school and 95% of seniors involved with CIS graduate on time, according to de la Fuente.
Federal Way Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Dani Pfeiffer said the district has partnered with CISFWH for over 10 years. In that time, CIS expanded to 12 schools and served 450 students. In addition, CISFWH provides dropout prevention resources, bus tickets, food and even prom dresses for students in need.
CISFWH is the reason why any student is “one caring adult away from a success story,” Pfeiffer said.
Student speaker Jazlyn Hill, a junior at Career Academy at Truman in Federal Way, told the crowd how CISFWH changed her success trajectory. A few years ago, she was constantly switching schools and going down the wrong path, she said. After connecting with a CISFWH school outreach coordinator, she has now earned her driver’s license, holds two jobs and an internship, and earned a medical assistant certificate.
Keynote speaker Dennis Eller, assistant principal at Thomas Jefferson High School, said students need a one-to-one connection and a sense of belonging to a caring community to thrive in their academic journeys.
At the event, special acknowledgment was given to Bob Wroblewski, the CIS Board of Directors secretary. Interim Program Manager Pat Perkins said Wroblewski has been a “faithful” board member for over three decades.
“I got more out of it than I ever contributed,” Wroblewski said. He praised his time working with CIS, adding that if he has another 30-40 years, “I’d do it again.”
The CISFWH Board President award was presented to Amanda Santo, who has served on the board for 9 years and started as a mentor.
Also at Friday’s event, attendees were greeted by members of the Federal Way High School AFJROTC, Illahee Middle School Steppers and the Todd Beamer High School Pacific Islander Club dance group. Breakfast was provided by Federal Way High School ProStart.
Attendees also heard from Thomas Jefferson Principal Joe Rush; Highline Public Schools Director of Community Partnerships Lolita O’Donnell; Highline High School Principal Clint Sallee; and Todd Beamer High School sophomore Aissata Bangoura.