When it comes to recognizing student success in schools, CIS of Chicago celebrates young people and the caring adults in their lives with two annual awards.


Each year, Communities In Schools of Chicago presents the Spirit of Giving Award to both a community partner and a school partner who consistently go above and beyond to positively impact the lives of Chicago public-school students.

The Spirit of Giving Award honors Alfred G. Ward, one of our founding board directors, who spent 15 years of his life championing the cause of the city’s students. In 2019, the Spirit of Giving Award was presented to:

Respiratory Health Association (RHA)

By providing comprehensive asthma education for students with asthma – or those with asthma symptoms – the Respiratory Health Association (RHA) meets schools’ and students’ needs. The organization has been a CIS of Chicago partner for more than 18 years and aims to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change.

They provide medication. They train teachers and parents how to best manage asthma. They also do research and advocacy. One reason this is so important is because asthma is the leading cause of school absences due to chronic illness. As a result, RHA is intentional about identifying which schools need their services and utilizes its partnership with CIS of Chicago to help serve those students most in need of asthma management education.

The RHA team has annually served an average of 530 students, 220 parents, and 150 staff through the CIS of Chicago partnership. That’s more than 500 students who are at risk of missing school because of their asthma, that are instead prepared to manage their symptoms and attend school. Just recently, the organization responded to a request about vaping concerns with a training for school site coordinators.

Mary Terhune, Counselor at Turner-Drew Elementary

Ms. Mary Terhune redefines what it means to go “above and beyond.” In the 11 years that Ms. Terhune has served as a CIS of Chicago Site Coordinator, she has been instrumental in helping her principal and administrative team achieve Turner-Drew’s educational vision through her tireless work as the school guidance counselor and her dedication to connecting the school with quality community partnerships.

She has incrementally increased the number of services she has connected to her school every year, and she focuses her energy on meeting priority goals like health services, art performances, and civic awareness. Over the just the past five years, she has accessed an average of 20 support programs a year – more than double the network average – and served 100 percent of students.

Ms. Terhune is known by School and Community Partnership Specialists alike. Her willingness to provide feedback and to try new programs and ideas to help meet her students’ needs is such a valuable attribute for a positive partnership. Ms. Terhune is also strategic and intentional in how she builds the network of community partners.

Hear from one of the 2018 Spirit of Giving Award winners, Ms. Ylonda Ware.