Chronic Absence Network

Chronic Absence Network

In partnership with Attendance Works, CFLeads implemented an innovative issue network with community teams in California to promote reading proficiency and better school performance in the early grades by reducing chronic absence and creating a local culture of regular school attendance.


  • A network of four community teams made up of senior staff from community foundations as well as a representative from a school district and an organization with close ties to parents.
  • Three 2-day in-person meetings over a year to:
    1. learn about the most current research on chronic absence;
    2. work together to create improvement plans by focusing on “bright spots;” and
    3. reflect on what is needed for community foundations to be able to advance this work.
  • A focus on early elementary grades.
  • An analysis of local attendance data.
  • Individualized technical assistance to understand the implications of the data and how to communicate them.

Desired Outcomes

  • Increase understanding of the importance of chronic absence and its impact on student performance.
  • Increase knowledge of specific chronic absence issues in communities of participating teams.
  • Stimulate local strategies for reducing chronic absence, using data to drive the agenda.
  • Connect community foundations to other community foundations to deepen their impact on chronic absence and potentially other issues of common concern.
  • Strengthen the community leadership practice of community foundations in order to advance education reform and other important community issues.

About the Network

  • An initiative to improve school attendance and advance needed local or state policy reforms by analyzing local data and identifying and building on what is already working;
  • A chance to build community teams of community foundations, schools, and parents to work together on an important education issue; and
  • A peer-focused, cross-sector learning opportunity designed to strengthen the community leadership capacity of community foundations.


  • Fresno Regional Foundation
  • Marin Community Foundation
  • The San Francisco Foundation
  • Silicon Valley Community Foundation

Content Partners



The evaluation for this Network was conducted through a series of in-depth interviews from December 2012 to January 2013 with seven participants: four community foundation representatives, a parent and school district representative, and Hedy Chang, Director of Attendance Works. This evaluation illustrates that the participants had a high-quality experience and that the goals of the California Chronic Absence Network were achieved.