DC organizations, Finn Partners fight truancy with Show Up, Stand Out campaign

The Show Up, Stand Out initiative, now in its third year, is the product of a partnership among the Justice Grants Administration and seven DC-based groups.

WASHINGTON: An alliance of Washington, DC-based organizations launched the latest edition of a campaign on Tuesday promoting the importance of school attendance, featuring both online ads and PSAs visible across the nation’s capital.  

The Show Up, Stand Out initiative, now in its third year, is the product of a partnership among the Justice Grants Administration and seven DC-based groups.

The Justice Grant Administration revealed a website, a PSA campaign that will appear on buses and in Metro stations around Washington, and Twitter and Facebook pages on Tuesday. The event featured findings on how the campaign has improved truancy awareness among DC parents.  

Parents of elementary school students also shared their stories, as did other speakers.

The participating groups are: Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Georgia Avenue Family Support Collaborative, Boys Town DC, Collaborative Solutions for Communities, East River Family Strengthening Collaborative, Edgewood/Brookland Family Support Collaborative, and Catholic Charities.

Finn Partners handled branding for the campaign and developed the name, logo, website, Facebook and Twitter pages, and out-of-home and online ads. The firm also conducted a survey of parents in the nation’s capital.

Melissa Hook, director of the Justice Grants Administration, said it was important to find a message that would help parents "look at school attendance in a very positive way and welcome the help," adding that the initiative promotes schools as a "very positive place."

In what Hook called a "conscious effort to draw people’s attention to" the issue, Show Up, Stand Out materials will be placed in each school partnering with the Justice Grants Administration. When a student runs up five unexcused absences, his or her parents will be contacted and referred to one of the administration’s programs, said Hook, who added that many parents were not aware truancy is a problem.

According to a year-long evaluation of Show Up, Stand Out, 79% of students involved in the program during the first year improved attendance, according to a statement from the group. One school, Browne Education Campus, saw truancy drop from 34% to 1%.

As early as fifth and sixth grade, students can be engaged directly to help them become "enthusiastic" about school, said Hook. The idea is to help students "find ways to be successful at school so they want to be there."

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