KPS Student interviews founder of Community In Schools

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By Sonya Hollins, editor

KALAMAZOO (MICH)-The streets of Harlem, New York during the 1960s were no place for the faint of heart. During the time when race riots ran rampant throughout the country and drugs began to overtake urban communities, Bill Milliken saw something. He saw how hundreds of students were controlled by the streets and violent gang activity. But, what his eyes saw, his heart took as a personal challenge to make a difference.

His love for students and the desire to not create more programs, but more caring people in the schools led to him later developing what is known today as Community in Schools. The program, founded by Milliken in the 1970s is, according to, “the nation’s leading community-based organization helping students achieve in school and prepare for life.”

The Kalamazoo-based program celebrated the more than 40 years of Milliken’s efforts and the progress of Kalamazoo’s program during the 4th Annual Community In Schools (Kalamazoo) celebration on May 25 at the Radisson Plaza Hotel in downtown Kalamazoo. Hundreds of educators, students an Community in Schools volunteers participated in the event which honored those who make a difference in schools. The program highlighted other area programs who are making a difference such as Western Michigan University’s School of Music, Family Health Center, and individuals such as Loy Norrix High School teacher Dustin Anderson, Milwood Magnet Middle School principal Kevin Campbell, Kalamazoo Central High School student Dominique Edwards, Community In Schools tutor Lauren Harkness (Milwood Elementary School), Community In Schools volunteer Laila Gourma (Arcadia Elementary); and WMU America Reads Tutor Maurice Reynolds (Spring Valley Center for Exploration).

The CAPS (Community Advovates for Parents and Students) program earned the 2011 Diether Haenicke Promise of Excellence Award during the event. The award is presented to those who go above and beyond to volunteer their time toward the education of students .

The nation-wide Community In Schools network serves more than 1.3 million students and their families each year in nearly 3,300 schools in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

Sonya Bernard-Hollins

Administrative account for the Community Voices website.