Ashlee Margolis Honored at Communities in Schools Celebration

Busy Philipps Ashlee Margolis Zoey Deutch Communities in Schools - Getty - H 2018
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The CAA-sponsored event was held Tuesday evening at the Skirball Cultural Center.

Communities in Schools Los Angeles, an organization dedicated to preventing students from dropping out of high school, held their annual celebration Tuesday night at the Skirball Cultural Center and honored the volunteers who made their work possible.

Star guests like Busy Phillips, Mandy Moore and Chelsea Handler sipped cocktails and enjoyed a hummus bar on the patio of the center alongside many of the disadvantaged students whom CIS helped to succeed in school.

Phillips spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about why she felt it was important to volunteer her time with CIS: “Anytime you get a chance to go into the schools and you meet the families or even just the kids who benefit from these programs, you always feel like you’re doing the right thing. I subscribe to the general idea that your job when you’re in a position to help is to help.”

CAA was one of the primary sponsors of the evening and its agents were out in force at the party, including president Richard Lovett.

Dinner was served inside the Guerin Pavilion, where hundreds of guests dined on chicken, salmon and grilled vegetables while listening to moving speeches from students who had benefited from the program, including Jasmine Luna, who walked into her school’s CIS office by accident and has now become the first person in her family to attend college.

CIS Los Angeles serves over 12,000 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District and has been able to successfully raise the graduation rate across the district. CIS executive director Deborah Marcus told THR how they were able to keep troubled kids from dropping out: “Relationships. Having a caring adult in your life. Whether that’s your parent, a teacher or a social worker, or that could be your Communities in Schools site coordinator. ... What’s also really important is that students are seeing mentors who look like them...who come from the communities that they come from so that they can relate to them.”

The evening's honorees included LAUSD Board of Education president Monica Garcia; Iman Turner, who works for CIS LA; and Ashlee Margolis, an entertainment and fashion marketer and founder of The A-List.

Shiri Appleby, a longtime friend of Margolis, told THR why she felt she was worthy of being recognized: “She’s beloved, and it's because she is such a good person. She’s constantly giving back and it’s true of her since I’ve known her almost 20 years now, and since the day I’ve known her, she’s always been involved in philanthropy.”

Margolis earned a rousing standing ovation for her speech, during which she became so emotional talking about the students she worked with through CIS that she repeatedly broke into tears. 

Her speech also helped motivated guests to donate. During a fundraising sprint led by Phillips and Margolis, over $80,000 was committed to CIS through text pledges in less than 10 minutes.