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Mayor Mike McGinn and Superintendent José Banda Announce Citywide School Attendance Campaign

Mayor Mike McGinn announced the launch of the second year of Be Here Get There, a data-driven, incentive-based campaign designed to raise awareness and improve academic achievement by improving citywide school attendance.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Melissa Millburn
Phone: +1.206.709.3400
Email: media@gatesfoundation.org

SEATTLE, WA— Mayor Mike McGinn announced the launch of the second year of Be Here Get There, a data-driven, incentive-based campaign designed to raise awareness and improve academic achievement by improving citywide school attendance.

"Research has shown that students with more than 20 absences per year have less than a one in five chance of graduating from high school," said Mayor Mike McGinn. "We need to all work together to get our kids in school.”

Every day in school matters. Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has set a goal to reduce the number of students at-risk for chronic absenteeism: 80 percent of students will have fewer than 10 absences in school year 2012 - 2013.

Last year, on average, SPS achieved their goal of fewer than 10 days missed per student, with a 4 percent improvement in the percentage of days missed by all students.

“We are pleased to again partner with Mayor McGinn and the City of Seattle on the attendance campaign,” Superintendent Banda said. “This partnership raised awareness of the barriers to good attendance and provided great incentives for our students. I know our educators and families will work hard this year to make sure our students are in the classroom.”

The mayor and superintendent also announced today that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be joining the Attendance Campaign through a generous donation of classroom and playground supplies. These supplies will be awarded to classrooms as part of the monthly attendance challenge.

Be Here Get There is a joint initiative of the City of Seattle, Seattle Public Schools, the YMCA, Youth Ambassadors, the Alliance for Education, and additional partners to raise awareness of the importance of going to school using community-wide education and incentives. The campaign will address the chronic absenteeism currently affecting public schools across Seattle and help improve academic achievement, boost overall student success and cultivate a lifelong passion for learning.

The Be Here Get There campaign aims to make schools engaging and attractive to students by rewarding positive behavior. To help the campaign reach students, local businesses including Google, Amazon, Starbucks, Top Pot Doughnuts, Pagliacci Pizza, Trophy Cupcake, Tutta Bella Pizza, SIFF, the Aquarium, the Symphony, the Seattle Children’s Theatre, the Experience Music Project, D’Ambrosio Gelato, Pie, Catering by Phyllis, KEXP, Molly Moon’s Ice Cream, and others are supporting the campaign through generous contributions.

The campaign will also make use of healthy competitions at the school and classroom level to get students energized to go to school. To learn more visit www.beheregetthere.org

Beyond incentives and competitions in schools, Be Here Get There will focus on strategies for schools, students, families and the community, as well as the shared responsibility to improve attendance. The campaign will address chronic absenteeism in ways that meet the needs of students, families and schools.

Recommendations for school staff to encourage consistent attendance in students include acknowledging students by name and providing engaging learning experiences. For families, the Be Here Get There campaign will increase awareness of attendance policies and provide support and contingencies for those struggling with attendance.

"We listened to the community when they said they wanted to improve educational outcomes for Seattle students," stressed McGinn. "Be Here Get There is just one piece of the larger puzzle to address chronic absenteeism. It's something that we can do right now. With commitment, collaboration and a community-wide approach we can succeed in getting more students in the classroom."

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