Be an Attendance Champion!

90 by 2020 AdCIRI places a high value on youth. We want youth to succeed, and to do that, we know they need to get to class, and then stay in school until graduation. In fact, studies show that there is a direct correlation between reading and math proficiency and school attendance rates. In other words, students can’t learn the basics if they are not in the classroom every day.

So what can CIRI do to make that happen? Well, you may remember that Greg Razo, CIRI shareholder and vice president of Government Services, serves on the leadership team of Anchorage’s 90 Percent by 2020 Community Partnership; among other goals, the partnership aims for every student to attend school at least 90 percent of the days they are enrolled.

More recently, CIRI joined forces with United Way of Anchorage and the Anchorage School District to encourage perfect or near-perfect attendance with the Attendance Champion program. In fact, in January, CIRI was the monthly “Attendance Champion” for United Way of Anchorage’s effort to reach out and remind kids to stay in school. The more people who know that attendance is the key to success in school, the better. So CIRI helped spread the word about the importance of staying in school through posters around the workplace, Facebook posts to CIRI shareholders and descendants, announcements on Twitter and direct emails to CIRI employees. We also encouraged employees to like and share the Facebook posts, because keeping kids in school is a community effort; everyone has a role to play.

But how do you encourage perfect attendance? You motivate students by recognizing those who show up! Last year, CIRI introduced educational incentives aimed at encouraging young CIRI shareholders and descendants to attend and excel at school (visit the CIRI website or call Shareholder Relations for details). And for the 2015-2016 school year, United Way instituted a monthly attendance recognition program with local business partners as part of the overall effort to achieve a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020. Together, United Way and local businesses came up with some prizes as incentives to stay in school.

For high school juniors and seniors, the first prize for perfect year-long attendance (no unexcused absences) is a Jeep Renegade; the winner is randomly selected from all eligible students. The four runners-up each receive 50,000 Alaska Airline miles. For grades 9-12, four winners will receive four roundtrip rail tickets each to either Seward or Denali. In middle school, year-long perfect attendance will be awarded with an Ultimate Field Day for the school, and there will be quarterly drawings for iPads. At the elementary school level, students in grades K-6 are eligible for a trip for four to Disneyland, including flights, hotel, Disney passes and more. Quarterly attendance prizes include parties for the winning student’s entire class.

That might sound like a lot of prizes. But emphasizing perfect attendance as early as kindergarten and continuing to reward it throughout the student’s academic career is important. The more regularly students attend class, the more likely they are to graduate high school, and the better chance they have of succeeding.

Do you know a potential attendance champion? Help motivate the students in your life to stay in school by telling them, and others, about United Way’s attendance recognition program. Today’s students are tomorrow’s leaders.