The Five Basics

A set of essentials developed by Bill Milliken, founder of Communities In Schools, that address both academic and nonacademic issues facing our students and their families. Student Support Specialists provide direct services and also connect students with community partners to provide the Five Basics for all students enrolled in our programs.

1. A one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.

The First Basic is a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult.  Student Support Specialists provide a positive role model for students offering encouragement and academic support. In previous generations, a mother and father, living together, were expected to meet their children’s need for caring relationships with adults. In many cases there was also an extended family and a religious community, both of which served as mediating structures and provided a safety net for children. But today, we find many of our students don’t have traditional families, and the mediating structures have weakened or collapsed. CIS staff members often provide key relationships for students.

2. A safe place to learn and grow.

The Second Basic is a safe place to learn and grow. CIS is committed to ensuring that all students have a safe, appropriate environment in which to learn and achieve their potential. The school can and should be a safe place for children, both physically and emotionally, and both during and outside of normal school hours. CIS provides the Second Basic by providing one or more Student Support Specialists(s)at each site available to students throughout the school day, facilitating before- and after-school programs, summer programs, gang intervention and prevention programs, violence prevention and school safety programs, “safe streets” initiatives and community programs during the evenings and on weekends.

3. A healthy start and a healthy future.

The Third Basic is a healthy start and a healthy future. Basic health and human services are essential for every child. CIS provides the Third Basic by connecting students and families with wrap-around services such as health care, vision and dental exams, child care, teen parenting resources, mental health services, substance abuse prevention and intervention, sports and recreation programs, and much more.

4. A marketable skill to use upon graduation.

The Fourth Basic is a marketable skill to use upon graduation. CIS works with students on career development and readiness, and creates pathways for students to access post-secondary education.  In addition to basic computer and literacy skills, today’s labor force requires workers who have problem-solving skills, analytical ability and personal qualities like adaptability and self-management. CIS provides the Fourth Basic through tutoring, literacy programs, career planning, employment training and job-shadowing, leadership skills training, and assistance with college planning and funding.

5. A chance to give back to peers and community.

The Fifth Basic is a chance to give back to peers and community. CIS works with students to develop their leadership skills and strengthen their involvement in community service and service-learning opportunities. CIS founder Bill Milliken was once asked at a congressional hearing, “What is the difference between the kids you’ve seen make it and the ones who didn’t?” He replied, “The children I have seen succeed are the children we allowed to succeed. We allowed them to give something to us. We need to listen to them, and then get them involved in feeding people, tutoring other children — that’s how they feel part of a community.” Every child should have a chance to give back. The community must create environments for young people in which everyone’s gifts are nurtured, and service to others is expected and rewarded.