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Dan Cardinali
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Dan Cardinali is president of Communities In Schools, Inc., the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization, with operations in 26 states and the District of Columbia. Established in 1977, Communities In Schools serves more than 1.3 million of America’s most disenfranchised students each
year. Under Cardinali’s leadership, the organization has developed and embraced an evidence based model of integrated student service provision and has launched a national growth strategy to increase the organization’s impact on improving public education. Cardinali’s background as a
community organizer has helped the organization continue its steady and measured growth, establish its voice in the national education policy debates, and launch an organization-wide quality improvement campaign.

Cardinali is a 2007 Annie E. Casey Children and Families Fellow. He also currently serves as a Trustee for America’s Promise, and as vice chairman of the board of directors of the National Human Services Assembly and the National Collaboration For Youth. Cardinali is a board member of Peace
First and also serves on the advisory boards of the Harwood Institute’s Public Innovators Summit and SparkTheWave.

Trained as a community organizer in Guadalajara, Mexico, Cardinali served on a team organizing a “squatter” community of 120,000 to secure land rights, running water and public education. He returned to Washington, D.C., to receive a one-year research fellowship at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. At Partners of the Americas, Cardinali coordinated its leadership training program, the International Fellowship in Community Development.

Before assuming his current position in 2004, Cardinali served as executive vice president of Field Operations at Communities In Schools. Cardinali holds a bachelor’s degree in foreign service from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University.

Entries by Dan Cardinali

Do You Know What They Did Last Summer?

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2014 | 1:31 PM

If you had a typical middle-class childhood, you probably remember summer as a time for amusement parks, swimming lessons, slumber parties and family vacations. June, July and August represented life at its best -- long nights that were all about fireflies and barbecues instead of homework and bedtime.

And...

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50 Years After the Civil Rights Act

(0) Comments | Posted July 9, 2014 | 11:51 AM

This month, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most far-reaching legislative victories in U.S. history: the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Looking around any public school classroom today, it's hard to imagine that barely two generations ago, more than 1,000 black schoolchildren in Birmingham faced down police...

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"What's in a Name?"

(0) Comments | Posted June 5, 2014 | 11:58 AM

It's been more than 400 years since Shakespeare pondered that question in Romeo and Juliet, yet it continues to have an unexpected resonance in public education today. If you need proof, just take a look at "Don't Call Them Dropouts," a major new study from America's Promise Alliance...

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Mapping the Way Forward for the Student Support Movement

(1) Comments | Posted April 15, 2014 | 12:26 PM

As I noted last week, these are exciting times for the advocates of educational equality. After many years of skepticism, controversy and relative obscurity, Integrated Student Supports (ISS) are finally gaining traction as a must-have component of public education. As evidenced by the recent White House summit in...

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3 Reasons to Be Proud for Supporters of Education Equality

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2014 | 12:26 PM

In all the years that I've been advocating for economically disadvantaged students, I've never seen a time when so many forces seem to be aligning in our favor. First, on Feb. 25, Child Trends released a groundbreaking report that laid out a solid evidentiary base for Integrated Student...

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The Experts Have Spoken: Integrated Student Supports Improve Educational Outcomes

(0) Comments | Posted February 24, 2014 | 3:49 PM

There aren't many seminal moments in the field of education research, which often manages to be esoteric, expansive, parochial and contradictory, all at the same time.

But today's release of a major new study from Child Trends is one of those rare occasions when the word "seminal" would seem to...

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Mentoring: Unlocking Young People's Potential

(0) Comments | Posted January 31, 2014 | 8:58 PM

What do you think about IQ? Is it something that's essentially unchangeable, or something we can continue to grow and develop as time goes on?

Recently, author Paul Tough asked that question during a keynote address at Communities In Schools' 2014 Leadership Town Hall. It was something of...

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Shocked by Violence? Try Being Surprised by Peace

(0) Comments | Posted January 10, 2014 | 12:43 PM

Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech -- three schools, three places that should be associated with learning and growth and brighter futures.

Instead, for many Americans, those names will forever be associated with horrific acts of violence. SWAT teams, guns and body bags are the images seared into our collective memory....

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Bridging the False Dichotomy Between Poverty and Education Reform

(14) Comments | Posted December 4, 2013 | 11:01 PM

Recently I attended two days of meetings in Kalamazoo, Michigan that gave me a new sense of optimism for the future of our public schools and our neediest students.

It was another reminder to me that school reform is a wonderfully hopeful and iterative process, despite the political and rhetorical...

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A Conversation With Beth Shiroishi of the AT&T Foundation

(0) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 12:58 PM

As a nonprofit leader, I write a lot about the need for smarter philanthropy and more effective collaborations with the nonprofit community. Today I want to share this blog space with a supporter and funder who really "gets it."

Beth Shiroishi is the VP for sustainability and philanthropy at...

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Reflecting on Peter Buffett's Challenge

(1) Comments | Posted August 12, 2013 | 4:52 PM

When the son of one of America's biggest philanthropists takes to the New York Times to denounce this country's "charitable-industrial complex," you would assume that a certain amount of fur is going to fly -- mostly mink and sable, in this case. Sure enough, Peter Buffett ignited a...

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Wisdom From the Periphery: Zoila's Gift

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2013 | 12:26 PM

If you were fortunate enough to grow up in a middle-class family, education was probably taken for granted. It wasn't a question of whether you would go to college, but where. Which school offered the best financial aid, the best professors in your field, the best networking opportunities?

In...

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The Nonprofit Imperative: Following the Evidence, but Leading the Charge

(0) Comments | Posted July 1, 2013 | 6:22 PM

For the past several weeks, I've been writing about the urgent need to redefine "success" in the nonprofit sector. My central point is that good intentions aren't enough -- only great outcomes scaled to meet huge national needs will change the lives of the people we serve.

How do...

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When Doing Good Isn't Good Enough

(0) Comments | Posted June 16, 2013 | 4:53 PM

When was the last time you heard someone use that old aphorism, "The perfect is the enemy of the good"? Almost always, the phrase is deployed as a warning: Don't get so wrapped up striving for perfection that you fail to do what's merely good.

On its face, this sounds...

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How Smarter Giving Can Create a More Effective Nonprofit Sector

(2) Comments | Posted June 3, 2013 | 9:09 AM

I recently had the rare opportunity to sit on a stage before a roomful of people representing billions of philanthropic wealth. These were people who could change countless lives with the stroke of a pen -- and they had committed themselves to doing just that.

It's not everyday that I'm...

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Daring to Dream: Graduating to a More Hopeful Future

(3) Comments | Posted May 12, 2013 | 4:28 PM

Last week, as Wall Street shattered one record after another, all eyes turned to the future. How long, the commentators wondered, until the Dow hit 18,000, unemployment dropped below 7 percent, or housing values regained their 2006 highs? Good news begets good feelings, and suddenly it seemed okay to dream...

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Central Truths, Learned on the Margins

(1) Comments | Posted April 24, 2013 | 7:34 AM

Out of every 100 freshmen entering high school in the U.S., how many do you suppose drop out before they cross the stage on graduation day -- 5? 10? Maybe even a dozen?

According to the latest study from America's Promise Alliance, the actual number is more like...

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Designer Schools: Making Sure They're a Good Fit for All

(0) Comments | Posted April 8, 2013 | 8:25 AM

School redesign is a hot topic in education circles, and it's easy to see why. In so many ways, the basic underpinnings of our schools haven't changed radically since the Industrial Revolution. Yes, we've introduced new technologies, curricula and so forth, but the underlying assumptions and delivery mechanisms are firmly...

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Blessed (But Unheralded) Are the Peacemakers

(1) Comments | Posted March 26, 2013 | 5:46 PM

In a Florida high school auditorium not too long ago, a shy, awkward freshman approached a group of older students to ask for directions. With her strong Haitian accent and unstylish clothes, the new girl was easy prey for the sophomores, who slipped instantly into a kind of group hunting...

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Under-Performing Schools: Stop Experimenting, Start Fixing

(0) Comments | Posted March 13, 2013 | 6:06 PM

Imagine an army of nearly 2,000 volunteers hunkering down for a three-year battle focused on rescuing 60 of America's worst-performing schools.

That's the vision behind School Turnaround AmeriCorps, a $15 million effort funded by the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). By...

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