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Stay in the Game! Network shortlisted for the Community Award at Leaders Sports Awards 


We are proud to share that Stay in the Game! Network is a finalist for the Community Award at the 2023 Leaders Sports Awards. 

The Leaders Sports Awards acknowledge industry success by recognizing pioneers in their field and honoring their achievements on a global stage. 

The Community Award celebrates organizations that use sports to break down barriers and bring the community together. The nominated projects tackle social problems in a practical way, reduce barriers between people or groups and create a lasting platform for positive engagement. 

To help Ohio families, schools, and community partners tackle the problem of absenteeism, a team of unique partners—the Cleveland Browns Foundation, Columbus Crew Foundation, Ohio Department of Education, and Proving Ground at Harvard University —joined forces to launch the Stay in the Game, Keep Learning Every Day! Network (Stay in the Game! Network) in 2019. The Network's aim: student success, which begins with engaged learners who attend school every day and fully participate in their learning.   

A student who misses as few as two days of school a month is considered chronically absent. Per the latest attendance data from the 2021-22 school year, Ohio's current rate of chronic absenteeism is nearly 30 percent — or approximately 473,000 students. Ohio students who are not chronically absent are 6.7 times more likely to meet the Ohio Third Grade Reading Guarantee and 9 times more likely to graduate from high school on time, setting them up for future success. 

For districts that prioritize attendance, primarily in lower-income communities, Stay in the Game! partners to build a data-informed local attendance campaign, which serves as a Tier I strategy – a preventative strategy aimed at encouraging better attendance for all students - to raise awareness and create a welcoming school climate focused on positive communications and engagement opportunities.   

The Cleveland Browns Foundation and Columbus Crew Foundation also promote attendance messaging statewide to reinforce local campaign messages while providing engagement opportunities for students to keep them engaged and attending consistently.  Team staff and players engage with Network partners by recording video messages, visiting classrooms, and spreading awareness. Additional support is given to Network districts to implement attendance interventions and promote engagement, including the installation of turf fields at nine schools and mini-pitches at five schools and community centers to increase engagement and subsequently attendance.  

In the 2023-24 school year, the Network will partner with 42 districts to impact more than 230,000 students. By 2030, the Network strives to have 90% of all Ohio students attending school more than 90% of the time resulting in an environment where students can reach their full potential. For more information on Stay in the Game! Network visit: 

Stay in the Game! Network 2022-23 School Year District Highlights: 

  • Akron Public School District – Five elementary school buildings reduced their chronic absenteeism rate from the prior year by double digits, ranging from a reduction of 10.8 percentage points to 14.3 percentage points and overall, the district saw a decrease in chronic absenteeism in 35 out of 45 schools (about 78%). 
  • Canton City School District – During the 2022-23 school year, Canton City School District decreased chronic absenteeism rate by 8.5% and saw decreases in individual schools of up to 16.4%. 
  • Columbus City School District – In their first year as a SITG! partner, Columbus City School District decreased their chronic absenteeism rate by more than 7% 

Sports Leaders Awards are given across two category groups: Company (Content, Creation, Innovation, Fan Experience, Sponsorship and Esports and Gaming) and Purpose (Community, Inclusion and Sustainability).  

The 2023 Community Award shortlist includes the following projects and initiatives: 

  • Beat The Street Stockton – Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, National Lottery, Sport England and Intelligent Health 
  • Building Sustainable Foundations for Long Term Impact in the Liverpool City Region and Beyond - LFC Foundation and Steve Morgan Foundation 
  • Ending Violence Against Women and Girls in the Pacific Islands through Rugby – Oceania Rugby, UN Women, Fiji Rugby Union, Lakaoi Samaoa and ChildFund Rugby 
  • International Olympic Committee and Allianz MoveNow Programme – International Olympic Committee and Allianz 
  • Stay in the Game! Network – By Cleveland Browns Foundation, Columbus Crew Foundation, Harvard University Proving Ground and Ohio Department of Education  

Award winners will be selected by a panel of 90+ global judges. Winners will be announced Tuesday, Oct. 17 at the Leaders Sports Awards hosted at the Natural History Museum in London, England.

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