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UWM will ensure that by 2025, 8,000 9th graders will be on track to success in school and life.

The Challenge

We know that poor school attendance is a leading predictor that a student will drop out of high school.  Elementary school children who are chronically absent are more likely to repeat a grade and struggle with grade-level reading.  If a child does not read a t grade level by the end of 3rd grade, he or she is four times more likely to drop out of school.



Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are stressful or traumatic events, including abuse and neglect, that occur during childhood. Trauma and chronic stress leave children less able to solve problems, cope with adversity and achieve success.



Children with mentors are more likely to attend school and graduate, yet at-risk students are less likely to have mentors in their lives.



A child who is “school ready” possesses age-appropriate skills/vocabulary and is developmentally on track to enter school. Children from low-income households are less likely to be “school ready” than their more affluent peers.



Chronic absence can be defined as missing 10% or more of the academic year for any reason, including excused, unexcused and disciplinary absences. Students from low-income families are four times more likely to be chronically absent.



Summer learning loss, also known as summer slide, can be defined as the academic skills and knowledge students lose over the course of summer vacation. The cumulative effect of summer slide can leave students from low-income families two-and-a-half to three years behind their peers.


Educational attainment is the strongest predictor of a person’s income and financial stability. When students enter school with age-appropriate skills, consistently attend school, have life skills and the support of caring adults, they are more likely to succeed in the classroom – and in life.


  • Provide resources and supports to families that strengthen interactions and promote early literacy learning in the home environment.
  • Adults read to and with children.
  • Improve access to the quality of early care and education environments for children living in poverty.
  • Facilitate and coordinate activities that reduce summer learning loss.
  • Engage students and parent/caregivers in the development of plans for improved attendance.
  • Provide a continuum of supports and resources to address student attendance barriers.
  • Monitor attendance data and practice to inform student progress of reduced absenteeism.
  • Provide quality and engaging out –of-school time opportunities that reinforce and enhance academic and social emotional learning.
  • Incorporate activities that complement school curriculum to increase student achievement and keep students on track to graduate.
  • Provide caring, adult mentors for academic enrichment, interest-based activities and career readiness.
  • Support mentoring relationship throughout to match to ensure sustained relationships.
Right Now in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro:

For the 2015-2016 school year almost 1,800 third graders in our community were reading below their grade level.

Based on reported results from NESA test scores for the Nebraska Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties and Iowa Adequate Yearly Progress testing for Council Bluffs Community Schools.

Right Now in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro:

For the 2015-2016 school year almost 13,000 students in our community were chronically absent from school, missing 10% or more of school days.

Based on reports received through data requests from Nebraska Department of Education for the Nebraska Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties and from Council Bluffs Community School District.

Education Investments
Academic Supports

Because school attendance is linked to improved academic outcomes, UWM invests in programs that help students, parents and school personnel develop personalized plans to improve attendance.


Life Skills

UWM invests in out-of-school programs to complement school efforts, promote academic success, develop positive behaviors and advance the development of critical life skills among youth.



UWM invests in quality mentoring programs that connect young people to opportunity and help them grow along the way.




UWM provides financial support to early childhood education efforts that promote school readiness and ensure students are on the path to success.



Special Initiatives



In the Omaha-Council Bluffs metro area, more than 5,500 third grade students were not reading at grade level during the 2016-17 academic year. At United Way of the Midlands, we believe this is 5,500 students too many. In order to ensure more children are on track to succeed in school and life, we are proud to support the expansion of the existing Campaign for Grade-Level Reading in Pottawattamie County into Douglas and Sarpy counties.


From Our Blog

Education Resources for Parents during COVID-19

COVID-19 has changed how we go about our daily lives—especially when it comes to how our children learn. With widespread closings of schools and before and after-school programs, students and families are being challenged to continue learning in a very different...

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What’s Raise Me to Read?

A Q&A with Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Experts In 2019, the Omaha metro became the first community in Nebraska to join the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. Known locally as Raise Me to Read, the campaign is a collaborative effort by...

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Attendance Matters Conference Highlights

For the 2nd year, educators join together to share solutions for chronic absenteeism On Thursday, October 4, we were thrilled to host our second annual “Attendance Matters” conference in partnership with the School Based Attendance Coalition. More than 200 individuals...

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Community Spotlight: Attendance

Local organizations work together to remove barriers to good attendance. In the Omaha-Council Bluffs area, approximately 18,500 – or 14 percent of students – are absent enough days throughout the school year that absence alone puts their academics at risk. Of course...

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Community Spotlight: Summer Slide

Encouraging students to read in the summer to keep them on track. Did you know when kids are out of school in the summer, they can fall behind and not be as prepared for the next school year? This is called "summer slide," which can occur because children may not...

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Women’s History Month

Empowering women through leadership and strategic investments. March is a busy month! It’s a time when people are in the throes of filing their taxes, planning spring break with the family and getting excited about the upcoming warm weather. This month is also time...

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Community Spotlight: Mentoring

Mentoring: we rise by lifting others! January is National Mentoring Month - a time for the community to reflect on how rewarding it can be to devote time to young person and help them achieve their potential. Mentoring provides meaningful connections that impact the...

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Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: A Multi-generational Approach

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: A Multi-generational Approach Symposium Series: June 2017 Poverty is a complex condition that cannot be addressed with a single solution. It affects individuals, families, neighborhoods and entire communities. Its impact is felt by...

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