In order to learn, students need to be in class. But there are many barriers to getting to class and getting there on time. A Richfield Middle School social worker reached out to Assistance League of Minneapolis/St. Paul to see if we could be part of a solution to address tardiness. The social worker explained that they were having significant issues with secondary students getting to class on time. She stated, “We’d like to do something more positive versus just tardy sweeps and detention. Our students have really struggled, as a result of the pandemic, with getting to school and on time.” Assistance League was able to act quickly on the request and fund the social worker’s idea.
The idea was to create an incentive program with gift cards to encourage students to get to school on time. At the request of the social worker, Assistance League spent $500 and provided $5 and $10 gift cards to Caribou, McDonalds, Chipotle, Dairy Queen, Noodles & Company, Starbucks, Subway, and Target.
At Richfield Middle School, they instituted a “positive hallway sweep” plan, where support staff are in the hallways during passing time to encourage students to get to class. Each class period, two students from every class are nominated by the classroom teacher – one who is routinely on time to class and one who is making progress. Then at the end of the week, names are randomly chosen from the list of nominees and the students are awarded a gift card over the loudspeaker. The program is working! The week before spring break there were 90 fewer tardies than the week before due to this program.
At Richfield High School, they instituted a program called, ‘March RADness.’ Students were awarded a gift card based on their improved attendance in addition to an advisory competition school-wide. They saw large gains in attendance at the high school as a result.
A student who was a recipient of one of the gift cards said it was a great pick-me-up for her. Her grandfather passed away in another state causing her mom to be out of town. This student was busy juggling school, taking care of her siblings, and working a job at the mall. The gift card really made her day and gave her a moment of self-care.
This is a great example of how having close community relationships helps us to direct our funds to best support our school district partners and the students they serve.