United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County, along with partners in the Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network has rolled out a new tool that supports students, their families and their neighboring communities. This tool is called “Homework Diners” and the model has had significant success in Albuquerque, New Mexico where the idea was born.
Homework Diners are weekly family engagement events that allow students and families to receive homework support from paid teachers and volunteer tutors and a free meal for the whole family. They currently take place at three area middle schools, Asheville, Enka, and Erwin. Homework Diners are open to any family with a K-12 student in the surrounding school district. Attendees will also have a chance to learn about community resources and take advantage of a variety of educational programs at these events.
“This is the first time I have felt real hope for my child at school. I was able to meet with his teachers and it wasn’t some huge deal. We just spoke and I feel like I was actually heard. THIS diner is a good thing.”- an Enka Middle School parent who attended the first Homework Diner.
What Can We Expect Here In Buncombe County?
All of the partners involved in the Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network are interested in embedding as many community building elements into these weekly events. That's why we are:
- Contracting with local culinary arts educational programs, like the one at Green Opportunities, to provide the meals. This means that their program participants get valuable real world experiences they can transfer to their next job AND families get a delicious and healthy meal.
- Providing stipends for local teachers who are interested in providing homework help/tutoring for the students
- Providing homework help/tutoring for the parents so they can learn how to better help their kids when they are at home
- Partnering with local service providers and businesses like OnTrack Financial Education and Self Help Credit Union we will provide classes around budgeting, financial planning and homeownership.
- Enlisting help from local health providers to share preventative education programs as well as special health screenings for conditions like diabetes or heart health.
- And based on the interests and needs of the community, many other kinds of classes and partnerships can and will be built.
When are Homework Diners?
Homework Diners are up and running at Erwin Middle, Enka Middle and Asheville Middle Schools.
We will be relying on volunteer power to help carry out these events as there are many moving parts to make it happen.
The volunteer positions available are:
- Set-up/Registration/Welcome (4:30-6:15pm) – these volunteers will help with setup, registration and checking families in.
- Food Support (5:15-7:15pm)– these volunteers will help to serve the meals to the families. This will include serving and clean up afterwards.
- Tutoring Support (5:15p-7p) – these volunteers will float around and work with students and their families to help them understand and complete their homework.
- Click here to volunteer!
Volunteering is a great chance for team-building with a group and Homework Diners are a perfect fit. One way to approach it is to “adopt” a night. This would mean the group would take on the responsibility of recruiting the volunteers needed for a particular night. This is about 10 people. If the group wants to do that on a regular basis, a schedule could be set up to reserve the spots, ie. Your group is volunteering the 1st Tuesday of every month. If you have a group and are interested in volunteering with Homework Diners on an ongoing basis, please contact Sarah Roth, Volunteer Program Manager, email@example.com, 828-239-1032 for more details on how to get involved.
Non-profit health and human service agencies, higher education institutions, and other educational and community resource programs can set up a table for free at the Homework Diner events to showcase their program offerings. 2-3 such tables will be available per night for organizations to share resources with families in the community. If you are interested in tabling, please click here to fill out the request form.
Homework Diners will be funded in part by a grant from The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.