Based on recent Chicago Public School graduation trends, the dropout crisis in Chicago is on the rise. This year, Northwestern Dance Marathon aims to help combat this trend.

Funds raised for Northwestern’s 45th annual DM will go towards Communities In Schools of Chicago, which works to connect CPS students with the resources, mentors and support necessary to graduate high school.

Since 2009, CIS of Chicago has been using its resources to fight educational inequity, which disproportionately affects male African-American and Hispanic students, as well as students from low-income households. The non-profit currently provides 160 schools with trained guidance counselors, as well as programs in art, college/career preparation, health and wellness. By removing the cost barrier that usually excludes low-income families from these opportunities, CIS Chicago has been able to support 97 percent of their mentored students to graduation.

In past years, NUDM has raised over $1 million for each of their primary beneficiaries. In a January press release, 2019 NUDM Co-chair CJ Patel expressed excitement to do the same for CIS of Chicago.

“CIS of Chicago attempts to diminish the opportunity gap by thinking critically about the systemic and institutional issues perpetuating the drop-out crisis,” said Patel. “This degree of intentionality is unique and makes CIS of Chicago a particularly important organization.”

Even after Dance Marathon ends, the organization will continue its relationship with CIS of Chicago. The charity’s Executive Director, Jane Metzinger, shared that CISC will be bringing students to campus throughout the year to “expose them with new possibilities for the future.”