Leslie with Jen
MMSD staff and local volunteers will welcome families and students to their first day of school on September 2 and 3 wearing “HERE! Every Student, Every Day” t-shirt.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 2, 2014

Today, United Way of Dane County’s HERE! Advisory Council announces their investments of $36,000 to local parent groups, faith communities and nonprofit partners to galvanize the community to increase early grade attendance.

The HERE! Advisory Council, co-chaired by Enis Ragland, 100 Black Men of Madison, Inc. and Sal Carranza, UW System Administration, is made up of over 20 community leaders of color who are committed to ensuring every child in Madison has the ability to succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race, by increasing the important of attendance in Madison.

“Early grade attendance is vital to the long-term academic success of a child,” said HERE! Advisory Council Co-Chair Enis Ragland. “Missing as little as 2 weeks during a single school year has an impact on a child’s future success. That’s why the HERE! Council is so excited to provide this funding to our community. We are investing at a grassroots level and that has the potential to make a significant difference in our children’s future.”

The HERE! Council will be funding a variety of projects which will reach over 1,400 elementary students this year. Here are the highlights:

  • African American Unity Parent Group/The Bridge Church
    • The African American Unity Parent Group working with Leopold School will implement a variety of events to educate families about the importance of attendance. These include holding Attendance Matters family breakfasts, holding contests for students to get to school before the bell called Beat the Bell Campaign, and coordinating walking school buses that circulate neighborhood and walk students to school.
  • Today Not Tomorrow HERE! Podcast
    • Club Today Not Tomorrow will work closely with the Family and Community Engagement department at the Madison Metropolitan School District to produce fun and interactive student-and-parent a radio shows to be used as a variety of community and school events and on social media.
  • Rainbow Smart Start Attendance Project
    • The Rainbow Project in collaboration with Frank Allis, Midvale, Lapham and Mendota schools will engage families to address attendance through behavioral health screenings, support/education groups for families and presentations at neighborhood community centers.
  • Joining Forces for Families/Midvale Collaboration
  • Joining Forces for Families will work with families, in partnership with Midvale School, to address attendance issues through home visitation. This is important because to help a student succeed we must also support the entire family.
  • Madison Initiative for Attendance
    • In partnership with Common Wealth Development, Orchard Ridge School, will employ two parents (with children at the school) on staff to coordinate enrichment and engagement activities for students struggling with attendance. In addition, Joining Forces for Families and volunteers from local faith communities will offer additional resources to families.
  • Falk Parent Teacher Organization
    • The Falk Parent Teacher Organization will coordinate transportation assistance for families. They will also work closely with the school’s Parent Liason and Social Worker to help provide additional supports to a family, if needed.
  • La Movida
    • La Movida will create messaging to reach families in our Latino community. Though radio shows, web content and events La Movida will create awaremess and link families to attendance support resources.
  • Behind the Chair
    • JP’s Barber Shop will produce a talk show on the importance of attendance to share it with families. It will also be posted on their website and social media.

“Thanks to the strong partnership between Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD), City of Madison and United Way of Dane County HERE! is able to engage with families in a whole new way,” said HERE! Advisory Council Co-Chair Sal Carranza. “Getting families connecting with their schools and neighborhoods in different ways could be the game changer our community needs to improve school attendance.”

The HERE! Advisory Council along with MMSD staff and local volunteers will welcome families and students to their first day of school on September 2 and 3 wearing “HERE! Every Student, Every Day” t-shirt. Volunteers will be at schools in the Madison District and will be hand out a flyer on the importance of attendance.

“It is vital to the strength and vibrancy of our community that we provide every possible way for all students in our community to succeed. Focusing on the attendance issue is just one more way we can work together to reduce the achievement gap,” says Leslie Ann Howard, President & CEO, United Way of Dane County. “I extend my deepest thanks to the HERE! Advisory Council for their leadership and to MMSD and the City of Madison on their partnership in this effort. ”

WHY IS ATTENDANCE IMPORTANT?

  • Missing school in the elementary years and particularly in kindergarten conditions the student to miss more school later; it becomes a learned behavior.
  • Attendance is tied to academic achievement; missing as little as 2 weeks during a single school year has an impact on a child’s future success.
  • Attendance strongly affects standardized test scores, drop out and graduation rates.
  • Without a high school diploma, a person’s annual earning power is $19,169; likely in jobs with very limited benefits.

ABOUT THE HERE! ADVISORY COUNCIL
The HERE! Advisory Council is made up of over 20 community leaders of color who are committed to ensuring every child in Madison has the ability to succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race by increasing attendance in Madison schools. Attendance is crucial to school success, and is something that everyone in the city of Madison can play a role by understanding the issue and spreading the word about the importance of regular attendance to school.

About  Our Community’s Agenda for Change

EDUCATION

  • Students succeed academically and graduate from high school, regardless of race.
  • Children are cared for and have fun as they become prepared for school.

 SAFETY

  • There is a decrease in family homelessness.
  • There is a reduction in violence toward families and individuals.

 HEALTH

  • People’s health issues are identified and treated early.
  • Seniors and people with disabilities are able to stay in their homes.

 United Way engages our community mobilizes volunteers and strengthens local nonprofits to achieve measurable results and change lives.

About United Way of Dane County

United Way of Dane County is addressing the underlying causes of community issues through our community’s Agenda for Change—six goals focused on three priority areas of Education, Safety and Health that our community identified as most critical to changing lives and strengthening Dane County. Through strategic partnerships and collaborative work, we are achieving measurable results toward making our community better educated, safer, and healthier. United Way provides organizations and individuals the opportunity to give, advocate, and volunteer to change the human condition in Dane County.