Schools Install Washing Machines to Boost Student Attendance
Studies have shown that one of the biggest struggles among low-income schools in the US is chronic absenteeism. While the top reasons include sickness, family responsibilities, drugs, and the like, one of the least discussed causes why homeless and troubled students often missed classes is not having clean clothes, thus, one big manufacturer offered washing machines to schools.
Whirlpool appliances, through its Care Counts program, addressed this problem by installing washing machines to schools. Teachers and staff members at the schools ask their students to bring their dirty laundry in school where teachers and parents can wash them for free.
In its pilot run, the company provided 17 schools in California and Missouri with washing machines resulting in 90% of students attending school and an 89% increase in class participation.
Considering the huge impact of the initiative in the students’ education, Whirlpool partnered with Teach for America so they can expand the program to cover a total of 60 schools across 10 U.S. school districts.
In an interview with the Business Insider, Whirlpool Brand Manager Jennifer Tayebi shared that it is satisfying to see the positive results of having clean clothes to wear to school on a student’s desire to learn.
Tayebi said that it is rewarding to see that “we can help them with something as simple as donating a washer and dryer to give them clean clothes and to help them feel better about themselves.”
According to Richard Arum, a sociologist from the University of California, the direct positive effect of the program is that “the students are not embarrassed to come to school because they have clean clothes.”
Arum also added that “the indirect mechanism would be that the program suggests to them that the larger society cares about their schooling.”
Chaketa Riddle, a school administrator from one of the participating districts, agreed with Arum that schools should create a culture of safety and support for the students above anything else.