Schools across the country are using washing machines to boost attendance. It's working.

It's finally back-to-school season. And if all goes well, you'll show up on that first day looking — and feeling — like a million bucks, right?

In the first school day of your dreams, the world is your three-subject spiral notebook. And you, in your sleek new threads, are the artist with a zip-pouch full of freshly sharpened colored pencils, drawing the many-hued future of your dreams across the blank lined pages.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.


But what if looking great isn't an option?

Imagine what it might be like to wear the same clothes from last year on your first day. Not so shiny and swaggy anymore, huh?

Now imagine it's not just the first day of school. That this goes beyond that first sharp entrance. And that on any day of the year, you might roll into class unlaundered, un-showered, and wearing someone else's ill-fitting hand-me-downs.

Unfortunately, that's the reality a lot of kids face.

Some kids are homeless, some are struggling, and some are straddling the choice between spending that last dollar on food, electricity, or a trip to the laundromat.

Either way, poverty often plays a role in chronic absenteeism — students missing 10% or more of the school year — just because they're too embarrassed or afraid to show up feeling filthy.

"People don’t talk about not having clean clothes because it makes you want to cry or go home or run away or something," said Logan, an eighth-grader. "It doesn’t feel good.”

Photo by Jeff Pachoud/AFP/Getty Images.

In the past, schools have used things like free meals and transportation as incentives for kids to come to school. But what if all it takes now is a washing machine?

In 2015, Whirlpool launched an initiative called Care Counts, which provided washing machines to 17 different schools with at-risk and low-income students.

The idea was simple: Maybe if students in need could wash their clothes for free, they'd have a better reason to come to school and stay there.

Some schools reported a noticeable difference in attendance within one month.

Over the course of the program's first pilot year, participating students received an average of 50 loads of laundry each, and 93% of them increased their attendance rates — with those at the greatest risk of dropping out averaging an additional 2 weeks of classroom attendance compared with previous years.

"This program has made a difference," said principal Martha Lacy of David Weir Preparatory Academy, a K-8 public school east of San Francisco, in an interview with Today. "And if we can make a positive difference with even one student, it’s worth it."

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

We've all heard the saying that "clothes make the man." Maybe clothes are all it takes to make the student, too.

With over a million students in the United States dropping out of school each year, there's still a lot of work to do. But Whirlpool plans on more than doubling their Care Counts program for the 2016-2017 school year — and hopefully, it keeps growing from there.

If a clean shirt can help to break the cycle of poverty and struggle, a little laundry might be worth it.

Check out the video below to hear from real-life students about the effect that the program has had on their lives so far:

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Amazon

Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.