When Schools Offer Free Laundry Services, Attendance Goes Up

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Many factors can contribute to a child's chronic absence from school, from problems at home to anxiety about school itself. To tackle this complicated issue, some schools are using an unexpected strategy: They've installed on-campus laundry machines that are free for all students.

By the end of this year, Whirlpool will have donated washers and dryers to dozens of schools with poor attendance numbers since launching the Care Counts program in 2015, Fast Company reports. The schools that Whirlpool selects are often located in low-income neighborhoods where throwing a dirty school uniform into the washing machine after coming home isn't an option for many students. Without access to laundry facilities where they live, some kids choose to skip class rather than go to school in their unwashed clothes.

But when washing machines are made available to children at school, the results are clear. The first year the Care Counts program was implemented in schools in St. Louis, Missouri, and Fairfield, California, average attendance rates rose by two days per chronically absent student. On top of that, teachers saw a 95 percent boost in class and extracurricular participation from students who'd previously missed more than 10 school days a year. And there's no need for schools to worry about the machines posing a distraction: Laundry is washed either by parents or school staff members and returned before the final bell. Each student who participates has around 50 loads of laundry washed at school in a year.

After finding success with the program in over 35 schools in six cities, Whirlpool is teaming up with Teach for America to bring it to 60 more schools in 10 cities across the U.S. About 1000 schools have expressed interest in receiving laundry appliances of their own, and Whirlpool hopes to eventually make that happen by gradually increasing their reach.

Care Counts isn't the only program with the mission of giving kids the basics they may not find at home. Some schools, like Washington High in Washington, North Carolina, offer free pantries that students can visit discreetly. The organization Catie's Closet provides a similar resource, but with free clothes instead of food. Looking for your own way to help kids who are struggling? Call a school in your community to see if there are any lunch debts you can help pay off.

[h/t Fast Company]

Yale Is Offering Its 'Science of Well-Being' Course for Free Online

Chainarong Prasertthai/iStock via Getty Images
Chainarong Prasertthai/iStock via Getty Images

Even if you’ve heard that money or career success won’t necessarily make you happier, it’s still hard to resist the impulse to correlate your own well-being to external factors like those. Why are we so bad at predicting what will make us happy, and how can we figure out what actually does the trick?

These are just a couple questions you’ll be able to answer after completing “The Science of Well-Being,” a Yale University course currently being offered for free on Coursera. According to Lifehacker, the 10-week course consists of about two to three hours of reading and videos per week, and you can work at your own pace—so you can definitely take advantage of a free weekend to fly through a few weeks’ worth of material at a time, or postpone a lesson if you’re swamped with other work.

The class is taught by Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos, who will lead students through relevant research on how we’re wired to think about our own well-being and teach you how to implement that knowledge to increase happiness in your life. Since the coursework is task-oriented and the course itself is aimed at helping you build more productive habits, it’s an especially good opportunity for anyone who feels a little overwhelmed at how vague a goal to “be happier” can seem.

As for proof that this is definitely an undertaking worth 20 hours of your time, we’ll let the previous students speak for themselves: From 3731 ratings, the course averages 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Though the course is free, an official certificate to mark your completion—which you can then add to your LinkedIn profile—will cost you $50. Enroll on the Coursera website, and check out 23 other science-backed ways to feel happier here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

[h/t Lifehacker]

The University of Texas at San Antonio Is Offering Free Tuition to Thousands of Students

Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a resident of Texas with college ambitions but face some financial hardship, there’s good news coming out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. This week, the school announced a program called Bold Promise, which will cover tuition for thousands of students annually.

To be eligible, enrollees must be first-time freshmen living in the state, ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school class, and have graduated less than 16 months prior. Once enrolled, they must maintain a 2.5 grade point average each semester. The adjusted gross income of their family cannot exceed $50,500.

UTSA is currently ranked 293 to 381 by U.S. News and World Report in national universities. The school hosts roughly 32,264 students, with an average annual tuition of $9722 for Texans and $24,722 for out-of-state attendees. The acceptance rate is roughly 79 percent.

Incoming students have until January 15 to submit an application, but no separate Bold Promise form is required. The program officially begins with the fall 2020 semester and will cover four years of education. UTSA says the cost will be covered by scholarships, grants, and other exemptions on the state and federal levels. Students will also have the chance to apply for financial aid to cover boarding expenses. UTSA estimates 4000 students will be eligible for the program.

The University of Texas-Austin instituted a similar offer earlier this year, with free tuition for a four-year program offered to students with household incomes of $65,000 or less. Colleges in Michigan and New York have also implemented tuition programs.

[h/t KSAT]

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