Whirlpool Offers Clean Laundry to Schools in Need
We think of washing machines as cold metal appliances that serve a mundane purpose. But for many people across the U.S., clean clothes are far from the mundane. It was a story Whirlpool uncovered as it sought to “humanize” its brand, launching a national research survey that revealed as many as 1 in 5 students in America struggle with clean clothes and the stigma as a result. Whirlpool’s Care Counts program brought clean laundry machines to schools in need, demonstrating that campaigns can solve brand problems and change lives, too.
Whirlpool set the program into motion after an elementary school principal in St. Louis, MO, asked for a washer and dryer donation because students were skipping school rather than face bullying in school over their dirty clothes. Digging deeper, Whirlpool launched the survey, which connected dirty clothes to school attendance and performance, larger community issues such as absenteeism, dropout rate and overall declining opportunities for youth.
The Care Counts pilot program, launched in partnership with developmental psychologist and researcher Dr. Richard Rende, took place in 17 schools in two U.S. markets—St. Louis and Fairfield, CA—where absenteeism was a documented problem. Each school selected a trusted Program Leader and identified students in need, anonymously tracking their laundry loads, attendance and grades throughout the school year. Teachers tracked their emotional wellbeing, too. At the end of the school year, Whirlpool found that 93 percent of tracked students averaged 6.1 more days in school than the previous year and 95 percent participated in more extracurricular activates. Whirlpool’s fresh approach—we give it an A+.