Education Has a Laundry Problem: Whirlpool Helps Fight Back by Expanding Landmark Program to Schools Across Nation
Surprising Solution For One Factor Contributing to Chronic Absenteeism Backed by Successful Three-Year Study: Access to Clean Clothes Leads to Increased Attendance and Grades
BENTON HARBOR, MICH., Sept. 4, 2019 – Education has a laundry problem and Whirlpool brand is fighting back. According to teachers nationwide, one in five students1 struggle with access to clean clothes, leading students to miss school. Students who miss school are seven times more likely to drop out2.
In the midst of Attendance Awareness Month (September) and as chronic absenteeism, a hidden educational crisis, is top of mind, Whirlpool brand is picking up the pace in its quest to prevent kids from missing school by removing one small but important barrier to attendance – access to clean clothes.
Embarking on its fifth year, the Care Counts™ laundry program by Whirlpool has grown to support students in need across 18 cities and 82 schools around the country - providing access to clean clothes for more than 38,000 students. This year, for the first time, Care Counts™ is inviting a number of qualified schools nationwide to apply for a laundry pair to bring this program to even more students.
Whirlpool brand is fighting education’s laundry problem. #CareCounts Tweet
“We hope to make even more progress by expanding the program well beyond the footprint of our pilot program, meaning more students will have access to clean clothes in more schools across the country,” said Chelsey Whitehead, senior brand manager for Whirlpool. “New data this year continues to show the program has contributed to decreases in chronic absenteeism, and we are just getting started.”
In analyzing the most recent data from the 2018 - 2019 school year, Whirlpool found more promising results:
- Participating high-risk elementary school students1 attended more than one more day of school per month during the program, projecting to 11 more days per year. These 11 extra days in school for students can make the difference between getting back on track academically and falling significantly behind classmates.
- The program contributed to increased attendance rates with three out of four high-risk elementary school participants4 missing less school. Missing more than one day of school a month can mean missing the lesson on learning how to count with classmates or how to read basic sentences.
- Over two-thirds of participating elementary school students at risk for chronic absenteeism5 had an increase in their grades during the program.
“We know every day counts. Getting students back in the classroom can make the difference between staying on course with their academic performance, or falling behind in a significant way,” said Richard Rende, Ph.D. “Since its inception, the program has contributed to decreases in chronic absenteeism and increases in grades and levels of self-esteem in at-risk students. The data indicates substantial promise for the program and at-risk students nationwide.”
Access to Clean Clothes Now Expanded
Whirlpool is committed to continuing steady growth of the brand-led program. New this year, Whirlpool brand is offering a select number of qualified schools the opportunity to apply for a below cost laundry pair to implement the program themselves. With research over the years showing the program has the greatest impact on high-risk elementary school students, the nationwide expansion will focus on qualified Title I elementary schools.
“This program is such an easy way to help solve a very difficult problem in our schools,” said Jo Carrigan, principal of Doull Elementary. “We’ve been lucky enough to be a part of the program to see the results firsthand, and I’m so happy that the program is opening applications because there are countless schools not just here in Denver - but all over the country that will benefit. Our new washer and dryer are an amazing resource for our students.”
How Care Counts Works
With the help of Richard Rende, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist, researcher and educator -- Whirlpool collects and analyzes anonymized laundry and school attendance data to prove that access to clean clothes improves attendance and more.
The program is pivoting this 2019 - 2020 academic year to study the longitudinal impact of clean clothes on educational development. To keep a pulse on the effectiveness of the program, new regions involved in the collection of anonymous laundry, attendance and grades data include: Cleveland, Philadelphia, Las Vegas, Miami and Phoenix. Whirlpool works with Teach For America to identify these qualified and at-need schools.
“We know that the Care Counts laundry program by Whirlpool has a massive ripple effect on positive markers, like student participation and motivation in school. By expanding the program with a longitudinal study and recruitment of more schools, we have the opportunity to learn even more,” said Dr. Richard Rende, Ph.D.
The first phase of the pilot study in 2015-2016 proved the program is feasible and sustainable for schools. A second phase from 2016-2019 observed notable increases in attendance after implementation of the program for elementary and middle school students at risk for chronic and problematic levels of absenteeism.
“It’s heartbreaking to know how many students struggle with something as basic as clean clothes. Even worse is to hear how these kids feel when that happens - they want to be invisible,” said Chelsey Whitehead, senior brand manager for Whirlpool. “When we found out that dirty clothes are one of the leading causes of student absences nationwide, we were compelled to find a way to help and fight back. It’s working - attendance is rising.”
To learn more or nominate a school, visit carecounts.whirlpool.com.
About Whirlpool Brand
For more than one hundred years, Whirlpool brand has been inspired by how people care for their families. Whirlpool brand is designing home appliances that are focused on improving how families give and get the care they need with the latest technologies and innovations – whether that means allowing families to skip steps during their laundry routine with the Load & Go™ dispenser or control mealtime from wherever they are with voice control and remote capabilities6. Whirlpool brand is part of Whirlpool Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer of major home appliances. For more information on Whirlpool brand, please visit whirlpool.com/everydaycare or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/whirlpoolusa or Twitter at @WhirlpoolUSA. Additional information about the company can be found at whirlpoolcorp.com.
About the Care Counts™ laundry program by Whirlpool Methodology
Whirlpool brand works with school teachers, administrators and Richard Rende, Ph.D., an internationally recognized developmental psychologist and researcher, to draw research-based connections between access to clean clothes and attendance rates by anonymously tracking student attendance, loads of laundry and grades. For more information on the methodology, or to get access to the full white paper, please contact [email protected].
1 Based on a survey conducted by phone within the United States by Braun Research among 600 public school teachers (18 years or older)
3 High-risk students is defined as elementary students on a trajectory to miss more than 15 days across the 2018-2019 school year (average of 1.5 days or more absent per month)
4 High-risk students is defined as elementary students on a trajectory to miss more than 15 days across the 2018-2019 school year (average of 1.5 days or more absent per month)
5 High-risk students is defined as elementary students on a trajectory to miss more than 15 days across the 2018-2019 school year (average of 1.5 days or more absent per month)
6 Product features subject to change. WiFi & App required for connected features. Details and privacy info at whirlpool.com/connect, kitchenaid.com/connect, and yummly.com. Appliances must be set to Remote Enable for remote control capabilities.