Devils Youth Foundation works to fight chronic absenteeism at Newark high schools

NEWARK, NJ — The Devils Youth Foundation, which serves as the charitable arm for the New Jersey Devils and Prudential Center, announced a partnership program with Newark Public High School Leadership Team on Jan. 10 to help students who struggle with attendance or are chronically absent from the city’s high schools. The primary focus is to raise attendance numbers of children in participating schools, a consistent concern in the education community, via positive messages, motivation and incentives.

The program will run from January through June in four Newark high schools — Barringer, Central, Malcolm X Shabazz and Weequahic — which educate 3,400 students combined. To launch the initiative, the Newark Public High School Leadership Team and the Devils Youth Foundation have teamed up to provide students with exciting rewards for achieving attendance goals, including Amazon gift cards and tickets to select Devils home games.

Each month, 10 students from each school will be selected as winners, along with one student from each school who achieves perfect attendance in that month. Additionally, a grand prize winner will receive a “Choose Your Own Adventure at Prudential Center,” which includes a 16-person catered suite to any mutually agreed upon Prudential Center event, whether it be a game concert or family show.

“In our community, we work collaboratively to encourage, motivate and inspire our students, families and staff,” Newark Assistant Superintendent of Schools Maria J. Ortiz said. “The message is not only that we are attentive to communal needs, but invested in working together and responsive to our children. We are looking forward to all of our students arriving to school every day and on time.” 

“We created this program with Newark to immediately address chronic absenteeism in our high schools and, in the long-term, to address the core issues students are facing that contribute to them missing school,” Devils Youth Foundation Executive Director Kate Whitman Annis said. “This working partnership continues the Devils Youth Foundation’s mission to support organizations that focus on positively impacting youth in New Jersey.”

This groundbreaking endeavor aims to increase attendance at the participating schools by 2 percent. At the end of the school year, students will sit down with Newark Public High School Leadership Team and the Devils Youth Foundation to discuss what motivated them for consistency and accountability while providing a foundation to expand the program’s impact in the future.