Cleveland Metropolitan School District's (CMSD) successful "Get 2 School. You Can Make It!" attendance campaign has entered its second year, with the Cleveland Browns Foundation again serving as the signature partner of the campaign.
Last school year, the attendance campaign spread awareness through billboards, yard signs, radio commercials and social media, including videos featuring Cleveland Browns players sharing the importance of getting to school.
During the program's first year, attendance increased by 1.5 percentage points raising the attendance level to more than 91 percent. This was a significant increase, and gave way to chronic absenteeism falling by 6.3 percent.
Unfortunately, chronic absenteeism affects school districts across the country. In order to combat absenteeism, last fall, the White House launched the "Every Student, Every Day" initiative, designed to give schools tools and resources to combat the problem.
Nationwide, more than 6 million students missed at least 15 days of school, according to data that the Department of Education published in September. Ohio defines chronic absenteeism at 18 days, or 10 percent of the school year. To combat absenteeism and set a higher standard for the District, CMSD tried to ensure that students were missing fewer than 10 days of school a year.
District data shows that students who miss 10 or more days in a year score an average of 12 points lower on state reading tests and 15 points lower on state math tests. They are 9 percent less likely to meet Ohio's Third Grade Reading Guarantee, which is required to earn promotion to fourth grade, and, in the case of high school students, they are 34 percent less likely to graduate.
The Browns Foundation's role in the campaign extended beyond enlisting players to taping pro-attendance videos, recording phone calls placed to homes and making appearances at schools.
The Foundation donated a portion of the proceeds from the 50/50 raffle sales at home games in the 2015 season to the Cleveland schools. The money donated was used to help pay for attendance campaign marketing materials.
Additionally, as an attendance incentive for students, the Foundation and the American Dairy Association offered $10,000 to the school that reported the largest increase in breakfasts served during a week last November. Wade Park School won by more than doubling the number of meals served, ensuring more students were at school and ready to learn.
Arby's Restaurants, a partner of the Browns, has also contributed to the attendance campaign by donating food coupons as an attendance incentive and to keep children fed.
This school-year, the Cleveland Browns Foundation is going one step further and collaborating with another community partner, Shoes and Clothes for Kids, to help eliminate clothing as a barrier to attendance for CMSD students most in need. Children in poverty are more likely to face systemic barriers to school and inadequate clothing is one common barrier. A grant to Shoes and Clothes for Kids will buy school uniforms and other clothing that will go to homeless students and students living in transitional housing. A shortage of proper clothes can cause children to miss school, and the Foundation is breaking down this barrier and allowing students to focus on school.
CMSD is thankful for generous and supportive partners like the Cleveland Browns Foundation in their support of the attendance campaign and helping students succeed.