Bill Milliken, founder and vice chairman of Communities In Schools, is one of the nation’s pioneers in the movement to give young people the help they need to achieve in school, graduate and go on to rewarding lives. Milliken and the other founders of Communities In Schools came up with the idea of delivering needed community resources and services directly into public schools where children spend their days. This grassroots, personalized approach embodies Milliken’s long-held philosophy that “Programs don’t change children – relationships do.”
The year 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of Milliken’s commitment to children. He has been honored with numerous awards through the years including a 2009 National Jefferson Award for Public Service from the American Institute for Public Service. In 1994, Milliken received the National Caring Award as one of the “10 Most Caring People in America.” Milliken has also received the Edward A. Smith Award for Excellence in Education for Nonprofit Leadership, which honors one executive each year who exemplifies “extraordinary leadership” over a lifetime of service, and the Champion for Children Award from the American Association of School Administrators, which honors a nationally known non-educator whose contributions have significantly and positively influenced the lives of children.
Milliken’s activism began in 1960 when he joined Young Life, an ecumenical youth organization. He helped initiate “street academies” for young people who had dropped out of school and wanted a chance to resume their education, as well as live-in programs for substance abusers and youth in need of shelter and support. Milliken’s experiences led him to search for a comprehensive approach to helping young people. This search culminated in the 1970s with the development of a model program that repositioned existing community resources into schools — the Communities In Schools network, which Mr. Milliken led as President until May 2004.
Communities In Schools is the nation’s leading community-based organization helping students achieve in school and prepare for life. Currently, the organization directly 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.
Mr. Milliken has served three U.S. presidents. During the Carter Administration, he was the White House Advisor on Youth Issues. In 1989, he advised President Bush for the Education Summit with the nation’s governors. Mr. Milliken was also involved in the planning of The Presidents’ Summit for America’s Future. In 1992, he received the Temple Award for Creative Altruism, given by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, which honors individuals “whose lives and work demonstrate the transformative power of caring coupled with imagination and enterprise.”
The year 2000 marked the 40th anniversary of Mr. Milliken’s commitment to children, and saw him receive two major national awards. The Edward A. Smith Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Leadership honors one executive each year who exemplifies “extraordinary leadership” over a lifetime of service. The “Champion for Children” award from the American Association of School Administrators honors a nationally known non-educator whose contributions have significantly and positively influenced the lives of children. In 2009, Mr. Milliken received the National Jefferson Award for Public Service in the category of Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged. This prestigious award is widely regarded as the “Nobel Prize” for outstanding community and public service.
Mr. Milliken is the author of three books, So Long, Sweet Jesus, Tough Love, The Last Dropout, and From the Rearview Mirror. He received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in 2007 from Bard College.