MSS: What We Do

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Successful Students. Strong Families. Engaged Communities.

This is why our Middle School Success Initiative exists. But we know that no single individual or organization can accomplish wide-scale community change alone. We are stronger, more powerful, when we work together. This is what collective impact is about.


The Asheville Buncombe Middle Grades Network uses a collective impact approach that brings together Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and community partners around a shared vision of creating success ready 9th graders and improving graduation rates. The Middle Grades Network aligns partners from a large cross-section of our community to tackle these complex issues together. View their Leadership Framework here.


Middle school can be a tough time with significant social, emotional, and physical changes taking place all at once. If we focus only on the student, we are missing out on the full picture of what they are trying to handle. This is why we need partnerships like the Middle Grades Network.

Building a Community School 

In partnership with the members of the Middle Grades Network, United Way has placed Resource Coordinators on four middle school campuses to foster and organize strong impactful partnerships and ensure we are responding to the unique needs of their school and community.

Each participating school hosts a Resource Team. The teams are made up of volunteers from local businesses, faith groups, neighborhood leaders and parents. Together, they help to guide key projects that will support each school community. Together, the Resource Team and Coordinators use four key strategies to accomplish our goals:

Early Warning and Response System

Our Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) is the first of its kind in North Carolina, connecting city and county schools, out-of-school providers, and volunteers. Using the EWRS dashboard, we can work together to identify when a student is starting to fall off track and alert a professional network of supportive and caring adults to take quick action. Three pilot middle schools started using the Early Warning and Response System in March 2017. Starting in Fall 2017, seven schools (Asheville, Enka, Erwin, Owen and Reynolds Middle Schools, Enka Intermediate and Eblen Intermediate) and fourteen community partners will be using the EWRS.

District-Wide Hubs of Service

Working with schools, and a network of service providers, United Way staff members (Resource Coordinators) organize resources that will support the health, education and financial stability of the whole family and neighboring community. Using the middle school as a district-wide hub for services we can find new ways to address the needs of the community.  

What kinds of services are we talking about?

  • Adult Literacy (Pre-GED, GED and English for Speakers of Other Languages)
  • Parenting Classes
  • Behavioral and Mental Health Counseling
  • Health Screenings
  • Financial Literacy and more

Homework Diners

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 four area middle schools, Asheville, Enka, Erwin and Owen Middle. Homework Diners are open to any family in the surrounding school district, whether they have a child attending the middle school or not. Attendees will also have a chance to learn about community resources and take advantage of a variety of educational programs at these events. To learn more, click here.

Who Got You Through?

A neighbor. A coach. A favorite aunt or uncle. Who helped you get through middle school? We’re recruiting a “second-shift” of caring adults to help students stay on track towards long-term success. Along the way, we support these volunteers with professional development workshops and expert trainers to provide an expansive toolkit for this powerful work. Find a volunteer opportunity now. 


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