CIS-Charlotte Announces New Initiative to Boost Attendance in Schools

CHARLOTTE, NCCommunities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CIS-Charlotte), in partnership with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) and the corporate community, is launching a new initiative designed to combat chronic absenteeism and boost student attendance. In support of the new “Attendance+” program’s launch, Bank of America and the Charlotte Hornets will host a “tip-off” event on February 28 at Quail Hollow Middle School, one of the Title I schools in which CIS-Charlotte operates.

“Consistent school attendance is essential for students to obtain the academic, social and emotional skills needed to be successful,” stated Men Tchaas Ari, CIS-Charlotte’s President and CEO. “Chronic absenteeism has real-life consequences for students, families and society.” 

 “Teachers and school personnel can provide outstanding curriculum and resources for our kids, but if the kids are not in school to take advantage of the information, learning does not take place,” said Ari.  “The good news is that chronic absenteeism can be reduced when the community pulls together to intervene – and that is what we are doing with Attendance+.”

Attendance+ is a multi-school, rewards-based program that incentivizes students, families and teachers to actively engage in learning. Community partners donate resources and incentives, such as tickets to sporting events, museums and concerts, while CIS leverages those incentives to motivate behavioral change to improve overall school attendance. 

Dr. Cotrane Penn, CMS Executive Director of Student Wellness & Academic Support, said the Attendance+ initiative comes at a critical time to support the district’s student reengagement and attendance priorities. She explained that more than 1 in 4 students (29%) were chronically absent in the 2021-2022 school year, which is more than twice as high as before the COVID-19 pandemic. Chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 10% or more of the academic year.

“CMS believes in partnering with students, families and the community to promote good attendance practices,” said Penn. “This creative approach to provide incentives and rewards to boost attendance is a welcome addition to the district’s current efforts to engage students and improve chronic absenteeism. We are excited to partner with Communities In Schools and the corporate community to implement Attendance+ and look forward to celebrating with our students and schools as they work to improve attendance.”

“Addressing absenteeism has to be the responsibility of the entire community which is why Bank of America is collaborating with other corporations to find creative solutions,” said Kieth Cockrell, President of Bank of America Charlotte. “We and our partners are committed to providing the necessary resources for Attendance+ to help reduce absenteeism.”

In support of the Attendance+ program, the Hornets and Bank of America are donating a co-branded book vending machine for Quail Hollow Middle School, which will provide another form of student incentives and rewards. The vending machine is coin-operated, and students can receive tokens for meeting individual attendance goals determined by school counselors and staff. There will be opportunities for other companies to follow suit to provide similar book vending machines in other CMS Title I schools.

“We are excited to support the new Attendance+ program and to encourage students to attend school,” said Hornets President & Vice Chairman Fred Whitfield. “A strong education will be vital for these students as they get older and move on to the next stages of their lives, and it is important that we do our part to help ensure that they are in school to receive that education. We are proud to join Communities In Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and Bank of America in this effort, and we hope that other companies will engage in this initiative so every school that needs a vending machine can have one.”

CIS-Charlotte operates in 56 K-12 schools (45 of which are Title I schools) in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. CIS places professional staff inside schools and establishes one-on-one relationships with students to help them overcome barriers in the classroom, at home and in the community. CIS staff will have access to donated Attendance+ incentives to encourage and reward students and families as they achieve attendance milestones.

CIS acknowledges that social determinants of health are closely linked to chronic absenteeism. Factors such as school climate, housing and food insecurity, bullying, and other systemic inequities, can have a negative impact on attendance. CIS works to address these barriers because the organization believes that every student can succeed when provided with appropriate support and equitable resources. Attendance+ will be another tool in the agency’s toolkit of integrated student supports.

“We are grateful to the many corporate partners who are leaning into this initiative to support our kids,” said Ari.  “It is going to take the entire community rallying together on students’ behalf.”      

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About Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg
Communities In Schools of Charlotte-Mecklenburg (CIS-Charlotte) is an affiliate of the national Communities In Schools network, the nation’s largest and most effective organization dedicated to keeping kids in school and on a path to a brighter future. By placing professional staff inside schools and partnering with individual volunteers, businesses, faith and community groups, CIS connects students to caring adults and community resources designed to help them succeed inside and outside the classroom. CIS-Charlotte operates locally in 56 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) to ensure that all students, regardless of race, income, or history of marginalization, have what they need to build on their strengths, realize their potential, and achieve in life. www.cischarlotte.org    

About Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is the 17th largest school district in the nation and the second largest in North Carolina. The district provides academic instruction and support to more than 141,000 students across Mecklenburg County. Serving students from 175 countries who speak 209 languages, as well as students with learning and physical disabilities, we offer an extensive number of options are available to prepare students for college and career readiness, including 104 magnet programs in 71 schools and 21 career and technical education programs.

Our vision is to create an innovative, inclusive, student-centered environment that supports the development of independent learners. With a focus on ensuring all students reach their full potential, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leads the community in educational excellence, inspiring intellectual curiosity, creativity and achievement. 

About Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 67 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 3,900 retail financial centers, approximately 16,000 ATMs and award-winning digital banking with approximately 56 million verified digital users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business households through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and approximately 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

About Hornets Sports & Entertainment
Hornets Sports & Entertainment owns the Charlotte Hornets, Greensboro Swarm and Hornets Venom GT, and operates Charlotte’s Spectrum Center. The Charlotte Hornets are a member of the NBA’s Southeast Division.  Owned by NBA Legend Michael Jordan, the Hornets organization strives to deliver a relentless attack on the court, an unmatched experience in the stands and a positive impact throughout the community. The name of the city’s original NBA team from 1988-2002, the Hornets moniker returned to Charlotte in May 2014, uniting the rich history of NBA basketball in the Carolinas. The Greensboro Swarm are the NBA G League affiliate of the Charlotte Hornets and play at the Fieldhouse at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Hornets Venom GT is the organization’s esports team affiliate that joined the NBA 2K League in 2020. Spectrum Center is the premier destination for sports and entertainment in the Carolinas, hosting over 150 sporting events, concerts and family shows annually. For more information, please visit hornets.com, gsoswarm.com, HornetsVenomGT.com or spectrumcentercharlotte.com.

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Media Contacts:

Communities In Schools of Char-Meck
May Johnston

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Eddie Pérez

Bank of America
Alex Lawson 

Charlotte Hornets
Josh Rosen