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Be there.

That’s the message of Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts, who believes that when it comes down to it, that one of the greatest determinants of student success is simply being “present.”

Roberts embarked upon an exhaustive community-wide campaign to make that point earlier this month, beginning with a private reception with faith-based leaders to encourage them to get and stay involved in urban student education.

The campaign, coined “Attendance — First Day, Everyday, All Day!,” is leveraging multiplatform communications vehicles from social and traditional media to targeted events aimed at educating area families about the importance of education, according to Steve Wasko, the Chief Communications Officer and Assistant Superintendent for Community Relations for Detroit Public Schools (DPS).


Many families — who were introduced to the campaign during the more than 200 community “Neighborhood Days” events hosted earlier this month in cooperation with its founder ARISE! Detroit — were on the fence about sending their children to DPS left reported more confidence about the system.

“We weren’t in before today, but we’re in now!,” states Mrs. L. Jackson, a mother of three boys under 10 years of age, who visited the mobile DPS enrollment unit during Neighborhood Days. Roy Roberts has brought welcome organization, efficiency and enthusiasm back to DPS. I really saw a different DPS at the Neighborhood Days event and feel that my local school is better-prepared to provide the education my kids deserve today. That’s why when they go back to school, they will be back to DPS.”


The campaign got its biggest lift this past Sunday, with the support of more than 20 of Detroit’s most prominent pastors, who delivered a unified message from the pulpit in support of the importance of education.

It was a unprecedented effort, that will deliver unprecedented results, according to Rev. Lonnie Peek, President and CEO of eBusiness Strategies, a Detroit based project management consulting company and lead organizer of the event.

“When you give congregants a positive initiative to get behind, they stand-up and stand behind it,” says Peek. “We’re confident that attendance will be up and will stay up in DPS as a result of the campaign.”

Peek is one of the creative minds behind the “First Ladies, First Day Pledge,” a first-of-its-kind pledge to support back to school efforts which range from organized prayer for student, administrator and teacher success to back to school greeters by Detroit’s most prominent thought leaders — its First Ladies. (See First Ladies Leave Lasting Impression story inside this week’s Chronicle)


For the third year running, the Spirit of Detroit statue on Monday will begin sporting a custom-designed iconic Blue “I’m In” T-shirt made of 300-square feet of fabric as part of Detroit Public Schools’ most expansive Back-to-School enrollment campaign to date.

Such powerful efforts deserve further attention and support. Are you in?

Editor’s Note: Jackie Berg is the CMO of the Michigan Chronicle and FRONTPAGE Detroit newspapers. You can contact her at 313.963.6694 or by email at: The “Attendance — First Day, Everyday, All Day!” is a part of the DPS “I’m In” campaign. Upcoming DPS Week activities include: A Taste of DPS Multicultural Expo, I’m In Parade, and an All-DPS Schools Open House and Alumni Celebration, including immunizations, ribbon-cuttings at three brand new schools and thousands of School Readiness giveaways. To learn more call 313.240. 4DPS (4377) or visit:

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