Education and Attendance

Attendance Matters

As a new school year kicks off across the Greater Richmond and Petersburg region, we celebrate a fresh opportunity for students to learn, grow and succeed. From pre-K programs to high school, this month marks the beginning of an exciting year ahead.

Unfortunately, many students will miss a significant amount of school days this year. This is an issue known as chronic absenteeism. This month, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg is proud to support Attendance Awareness Month and join organizations across the country dedicated to reducing chronic absenteeism.

Why Chronic Absenteeism Is Important

  • In the Greater Richmond and Petersburg region, nearly 1 in 10 students miss more than 10 percent of the school year – nearly a month of the school year. This problem exists at all grade levels, from kindergarten to high school.
  • Low-income students are four times more likely to be chronically absent than others. This is often for reasons beyond their control, such as unstable housing, unreliable transportation, and a lack of access to health care. Even neighborhood violence and bullying are factors on why students miss school.
  • Here at United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg, we have highlighted chronic absenteeism as an indicator for three of our Steps to Success. Attendance is a critical factor in helping kids read at grade level by third grade, stay engaged through middle school and graduate high school on time.

What We’re Doing

Chronic absenteeism is a problem, but we can solve it together. By working with other regional organizations, United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg is reducing the number of chronically absent students this year.

  • Together with VCU’s Mary and Frances Youth Center, we run the Richmond Youth Program Quality Intervention (YPQI), which ensures out-of-school time programs make elementary and middle school-age students feel safe, engaged and empowered.
  • We convene the RVA Youth Development Network, which bring together professionals from the out-of-school time, youth development and education fields for networking and shared learning.
  • Through our partnership with Bridging Richmond, we are working across the region to share data and support schools, parents and community organizations in understanding the importance of attendance, identify pockets of success, and take action to improve chronic absenteeism. This is an issue that affects the entire region – not just schools and parents. We all have a role to play. Bridging Richmond helps make connections and get all of us working together to tackle the challenge. Learn more here.

How You Can Help

  • Give. Visit our website to make a donation today. Pledge to support all nine Steps to Success, or use the “Investment Options: tool to support one of the Steps impacted by chronic absenteeism: third grade reading, middle school engagement and high school graduation.
  • Advocate. Chronic absenteeism is often overlooked, but it does not have to be. Awareness is a critical component of the effort to increase attendance. Talk to your friends, neighbors and colleagues and make sure they know that going to school every day matters for success in school and life.
  • Volunteer. Join our team of volunteers on Saturday, September 30th as they work to raise awareness of the importance of attendance in our region. Learn more here or email volunteer@yourunitedway.org to sign up!