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Having clean uniforms improves attendance, grades in Cleveland students; program aims to provide more: Eric Gordon, Dee Haslam and Tracy Jemison II

When we get dressed for work each morning, we each have a closet full of clean clothes to choose from -- and the thought of missing work because we have nothing appropriate to wear never crosses our mind.

But what if our only option was a soiled dress? Would we want to show up at that important meeting with the boss? What if our only shirt was torn and frayed. Would we be eager to stand in front of our peers to give a presentation?

These are unrealistic questions for us as business professionals. Unfortunately, we know such questions haunt hundreds of Cleveland School District children who are at risk, not because of motivation or intellect, but because they lack basic items in their lives, such as clean clothes and shoes that fit.

District research shows that access to new, clean clothes and shoes makes a difference in attendance, and excelling in school starts with attendance. This year, a partnership among the Cleveland schools, the Cleveland Browns Foundation and Shoes and Clothes for Kids provided nearly 1,000 packages of uniforms, casual clothes and gift cards for shoes and other supplies to students - a program called "Special Team Packages."