On Friday, Dec. 8, Stay in the Game! paid a visit to the Stay in the Game! Room at East Community Learning Center – which is a part of the Akron Public School system. During their visit, they focused on goal setting with the middle and high school students.
And during the visit, the Arby's Foundation awarded the Browns Foundation a $100,000 grant in support of the Stay in the Game! Attendance Network for the fifth consecutive year. The Arby's Foundation has contributed over $500,000 to the Stay in the Game! Network and their efforts to decrease chronic absenteeism.
Donna Manwaring, a representative of the Arby's Foundation, was in attendance at Friday's event to present the grant and offer her support to those students in attendance.
"I'm here to represent what we [the Arby's Foundation] believe in and some of our values," Manwaring said. "We are so very proud of you. And we are so proud to partner with the Stay in the Game! Network so we can give opportunities to individuals to implement attendance interventions so we can ensure that you all have an opportunity to get in school, to stay in school and to make a difference. Because at the end of the day all we want for you all is to dream big."
The Arby's Foundation funded the creation of the SITG! room at the East Community Learning Center in 2022. Arby's has also funded rooms at Canton City Schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, East Cleveland City Schools, Garfield Heights City Schools and Maple Heights City Schools. The goal of the SITG! room is to provide districts with a way to recognize and celebrate students with improved attendance through the creation of a room with video games, crafts, and spaces to relax.
As East Community Learning Center's principal Walter Noland sat in the SITG! Room with the students, he shared a message with them and recognized their dedication to good attendance.
"This room was really created in response to a big problem, because we have the data that supports that after Covid about 14 million students were missing 10 percent, or 18 days of school," Noland said to the students who attended Friday's event. "You guys aren't doing that. […] So, we have this opportunity with our partnership with the Browns Foundation and their relationship with Arby's to provide rooms like this where we've got this chill place to relax with gaming systems and board games."
This year's grant will go towards SITG's efforts for the 2023-24 school year, and support school districts in raising awareness about the importance of attendance through event activation materials. It also supports and funds attendance interventions within SITG! Districts, such as the postcard intervention.
The postcard intervention helps to reduce absences by sending personalized postcards to parents and caregivers about how much class time their student is missing. Proving Ground out of Harvard University works with school districts to help them identify and test evidence-based solutions to specific challenges that are obstacles to student achievement. Proving Ground has demonstrated how postcard intervention can decrease chronic absenteeism by nearly eight percent for students that are targeted.
The Arby's Foundation also rewarded the students in attendance with a snack during the visit. The students were surprised by Chomps and Browns alumni Josh Cribbs at the event.
Cribbs answered questions from students and helped them through a worksheet that focused on goal setting. They listed both short- and long-term goals, and planned how they would accomplish their goals. Students also determined what obstacles they could face and brainstormed how they could overcome those obstacles, as well as how their support system will help them reach their goals.