By Erin Jones

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A Dallas nonprofit that specializes in students’ mental health says since COVID-19 emerged in North Texas, they’ve nearly doubled the amount of schools they serve.

Now, Communities in Schools – Dallas Region is launching a new campaign to continue to expand their reach.

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“I don’t think that there is a challenge that we have in front of us that is greater than the mental health and wellness of our young people,” President and CEO Adam Powell said.

“Every day we are on a campus in some way, shape or form,” Communities in Schools Dallas Clinical Coordinator Curtisha Taylor said.

“We serve students as young as Pre-K and old as seniors. A lot of our students have not performed their best academically because of a lot of in-person learning was cut short for them and now they’re playing a lot of catch-up and they’re experiencing a lot of stressors and worries.”

She walks them through specialized discussions and exercises.

“We let them know how you’re doing a good job, keep breathing,” she said.

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Currently, Communities in Schools serves students in 150+ schools in 16 districts, including Dallas, Richardson and Plano ISD.

The demand for their services continues to grow.

“We’re getting calls every day from schools, superintendents, principals that are saying hey we have these challenges and you have the model, you have the staff to really be able to support us,” Powell said. “On the heels of COVID, mental health has become one of the biggest barriers to student success.”

The organization now has a goal of helping 300+ schools, but currently doesn’t have the financial means to do so.

They’ve launched the Safer Students, Stronger Schools campaign with a goal of raising $10 million.

“Being in the social work field, every dollar counts and every dollar can be used to the best ability, but $10 million, you’re talking about staff and the number of students we can reach, that now grows exponentially,” Taylor said.

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So far, the Safer Students, Stronger Schools campaign has raised nearly $2 million from the W.W. Caruth Fund at Communities Foundation of Texas, the Meadows Foundation, Ms. Margot Perot, Harold Simmons Foundation, Rees-Jones Foundation and George and Fay Young Family Foundation.

Erin Jones