As the nation celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week, the Arby's Foundation, Cleveland Browns Foundation and Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) have identified 520 students in need who will receive free WiFi for one year as the district and students strive to keep kids engaged in their education and remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given necessary changes to the standard school environment, the Arby's Foundation, in partnership with its restaurant teams in Cleveland, the Cleveland Browns Foundation and CMSD decided to allocate the funds issued in December 2019 through the "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game" Network to help students succeed through virtual learning.
The Arby's Foundation, Cleveland Browns Foundation and CMSD recognized inherent challenges as nearly two-thirds of CMSD's students do not have access to reliable internet connectivity, which is exacerbated with the need to provide educational resources electronically following school closures across the state and country.
In addition to providing 500,000 free kids meals through "School's Out Food's In" meal cards to "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game" action school districts, the Arby's Foundation has committed an additional $11,300 to the Cleveland Browns Foundation. The sum has been earmarked to supply personnel protective equipment to Northeast Ohio school district staff members who are preparing and delivering food for students and families in need during the current health crisis. Following a matching contribution by idegy, the preferred promotional merchandise partner of the Browns, 20,000 facemasks will be issued to a combination of front line workers operating food drives distributions, educators and students at CMSD, Canton City School District, East Cleveland City School District and Maple Heights City School District.
"We thank the Arby's Foundation for this generous gift," said CMSD Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon. "The closing of our buildings due to COVID-19 and the rapid switch to remote learning have exposed the digital divide that exists in Cleveland. Nearly two-thirds of our families are without reliable, high-speed internet. This helps move us closer to our goal of ensuring access for every student."
"The Arby's Foundation is thrilled to help Cleveland's future leaders keep their minds engaged in school work and bodies nourished during the summer," said Arby's Manager of Brand Activation Jeff Schechter. "We are proud to partner with the numerous teachers and administrators who are on the frontlines ensuring students have access to the necessary meals and resources that are critical to building a strong foundation for success in school and life."
"The Arby's Foundation and CMSD continue to be remarkable partners as the Browns and our community work together to ensure all kids have the proper support and opportunities to be fully engaged in their education and prepare for future success," said Vice President of the Cleveland Browns Foundation Renee Harvey. "Many students and families in our 'Get 2 School' action districts do not have consistent access to food, internet service or other daily needs throughout the year, and these challenges are even more prevalent at this time as they often rely on schools for regular meals and important educational tools. We greatly appreciate how the Arby's Foundation, CMSD and many others who always step up to help year-round and during the pandemic by providing kids the resources they deserve."
To celebrate the efforts and thank staff members who are going above and beyond to assist students, the Browns delivered "Hats Off to Our Heroes" T-shirts at select food distribution sites today, along with free meals for workers, courtesy of the Arby's Foundation.
The collaborative selected Digital C, a non-profit internet service provider in Greater Cleveland, to install internet connections for the identified CMSD students.
Since 2015, the Arby's Foundation has supported the Cleveland Browns Foundation and its partnership with CMSD through the "Get 2 School. You Can Make It!" attendance campaign and has remained involved as the Browns helped launch "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game" Network to promote innovative strategies to encourage regular school attendance. The "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game!" Network is a statewide initiative designed to promote the importance of school attendance and end chronic absenteeism.
Inspired by previous work within the attendance space and evident results from CMSD's efforts, the Arby's Foundation is proud to assist Cleveland youth with enhanced educational opportunities by providing resources that will help students succeed, whether it is by getting to school every day or focusing on education at home.
Since the inception of CMSD's attendance campaign in 2015, the Arby's Foundation has been instrumental in its support for the initiative, lending assistance ranging from monthly lunch rewards as an attendance incentive to providing students with food vouchers during the summer months. The Cleveland Browns Foundation and Arby's Foundation selected CMSD as the donation's beneficiary, honoring the district's exemplary commitment to keeping kids in school and creating a framework for other districts to model to promote student attendance and overall achievement.
The primary goal of the Get 2 School Network is to raise awareness and provide school districts with tools to support strong student attendance and combat chronic absenteeism. Students who are absent from school miss important learning opportunities, which can be difficult, or even impossible to make up. In fact, chronically absent students – defined as missing 10 percent of the school year or about 18 instructional days – are 89 percent less likely to graduate on time from high school.
Absences can build up quietly, and students that miss just two days a month over a nine-month school year are identified as chronically absent. The link between attendance and student success inspired the launch of the statewide Get 2 School Network. Through the Arby's Foundation donation, the network will continue working with CMSD to uncover and address additional barriers to attendance, furthering the development of engaged, academically confident learners.
The Cleveland Browns Foundation first prioritized student attendance in 2015 when it developed a partnership with CMSD, which at the time was facing a 35 percent chronic absentee rate. In an effort to remove attendance-related barriers, the Foundation also supported a local clothing program, supplying students facing economic hardship greater access to uniforms and basic clothing packages. The campaign and attendance interventions helped CMSD cut chronic absenteeism to 30 percent in the 2017-2018 school year. Additionally, the Foundation recently supported a transportation project in CMSD to help the district improve the transparency and efficiency of getting students to school.
The "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game" Network is designed to connect its users to each other, state and national experts and high-quality attendance-focused campaign materials, strategies and evaluation tools. The Network's backbone is its website, Get2School.org, which is available to all Ohio schools and districts at no cost.
The Network's goal is to increase student attendance, particularly among specific groups of students, such as African American, Hispanic, English learners, economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities. The Network believes that student success begins with engaged learners who attend school each day.
An identified set of school districts, known as action districts, currently receive additional supports and resources, affecting approximately 66,000 students. Through these resources, districts are able to launch comprehensive community campaigns to raise awareness regarding the importance of school attendance, use data to target specific attendance-related intervention efforts for maximum impact, analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of specific interventions, and refine attendance-related solutions across these school districts. Over time, all learnings from these improvement efforts are shared broadly across the Network, benefiting all participating schools and districts.
For more information about the Get 2 School Network, visit Get2School.org.
About the Arby's Foundation:
The Arby's Foundation, the independent charitable arm of Arby's, helps America's kids dream big and pursue their dreams with confidence. Building on a philanthropic heritage that has contributed more than $90 million to youth-related causes since its inception in 1986, the Arby's Foundation is committed to helping kids build, expand and pursue their dreams as we focus our efforts in childhood hunger, youth leadership and career readiness initiatives. The Arby's Foundation is a division of the Inspire Brands Foundation, which is a registered 501(c)(3). To learn more, visit foundation.arbys.com.
About the Cleveland Browns Foundation and Get 2 School, Stay in the Game! Network:
To help Ohio families, schools and community partners tackle chronic absenteeism, a team of unique partners – the Cleveland Browns Foundation, Ohio Department of Education and Harvard University's Proving Ground – joined forces at the state level to launch the Get 2 School, Stay in the Game! Network. The Get 2 School Network's singular aim is to enable student success beginning with engaged learners who attend school every day. To learn more visit, Get2school.org.