3 Ways Community Partners Can Help You Improve Attendance
As the saying goes, “it takes a village.” And it certainly rings true for the formidable task of improving chronic absenteeism across our nation. You and your team may be implementing numerous strategies to bring more students back to class every day, but are they leveraging all of the resources that your wider community may have available? In this post, we’ll explore three ways that community partners can help support your hard work and broaden your reach as you help more students get back on track for success.
1. Community partners expand the net of resources to help families overcome barriers to attendance
Even pre-Covid, families were looking to their school for more than just academics. But the pandemic pressured schools to go even further, providing mental health support, food distribution, and housing assistance, to name just a few. But schools can’t go it alone, and partnering with local and national nonprofits along with local businesses can help you mitigate the many factors that contribute to chronic absenteeism, including poverty, homelessness, lack of transportation, and family & student disengagement.
Our partners in Pittsburgh Public Schools are a great example of how leveraging both local and national resources can make a big impact. They have engaged with numerous organizations to provide their students and families with the needed support to get to school more often. In-school mental health support so that students don’t need to travel to an appointment and miss even more school time has been incredibly helpful. Additionally, they’ll be programming EveryDay Intervention’s Family Support Bot to connect families with local resources from PA 211 this year. Check out this webinar that highlights all of their intentional community partnership work.
2. Community partners can amplify awareness about the importance of attendance
Across the country, there’s been a meaningful shift from a truancy mindset that punishes unexcused absences to one that emphasizes that every missed day of learning matters, whether excused or unexcused. Helping families buy in to this shift is not always easy, and our partners appreciate that our mail & text nudges open up important conversations that help build a culture of attendance.
Community partners can help you raise awareness about the importance of attendance by hosting special events, distributing educational materials, and promoting attendance initiatives. They can also work with local media to spread the message about the importance of regular school attendance. A great example of this would be our partners at Columbus City Public Schools, who joined Ohio’s Stay in the Game network to help spread the word across the city about how much attendance matters, including billboards emblazoned with that message. Additionally, partnerships with Ohio State University’s women’s basketball team motivated students to attend every day and maximize their learning opportunities.
3. Community partners can nurture a supportive school environment
Given that schools provide such meaningful support to their communities, it’s no surprise that the community schools model has picked up in popularity, with funding streams to help make it a reality. In addition to supports like healthcare and food distribution, community partners can help make school a place where students really want to be every day. This could look like mentoring programs such as the evidence-based Success Mentors program, part of the Every Student, Every Day initiative within the Community Schools model in NYC Public Schools. Pairing high needs students with a caring mentor had such a profound impact in reducing chronic absenteeism across the city that it was scaled to a national level to connect more students with a mentor who motivates and inspires them to be in school, every day.
After-school programs with nonprofits like Girls Who Code can provide a safe and fun environment for students after school, which can expose them to new ideas, opportunities, and learning that resonates.
As districts face uncertainties around funding beyond ESSER, funding through local or national foundations and nonprofits can help sustain the important programs you may already have underway or are just beginning. In this funding matrix, we outline the different types of funding you can leverage for attendance improvement in your district.
By intentionally working together, districts, families, and community partners can create a supportive environment that encourages regular school attendance and helps all students reach their full potential.
To learn more about ways to improve attendance across your district, check out our proven-effective solutions that seamlessly plug into your existing initiatives and powerfully work on your behalf.