Asheville City Schools Foundation


Guest post by Rebecca Abide
Development and Communications Director
Asheville City Schools Foundation

It's always a pleasure to share this space with like-minded organizations. As a trusted community partner and member of the United for Youth Network, Asheville City Schools Foundation (ACSF) has been working alongside United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County for over a decade, connecting our community's students and families to critical resources. 

We recently invited ACSF to share a little bit about their work and the impact they have in our community. Be sure to visit the ACSF website to learn more.


About Us:

The Asheville City Schools Foundation (ACSF) is an independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to collaborate with our community to do whatever it takes for all children to thrive. ACSF’s work impacts over 4,100 students and over 700 educators each year through direct service programming, grantmaking, advocacy, and educational community engagement events.

  • PROGRAMS: We support students through direct programming such as In Real Life After-School, the TAPAAS teaching artists in residency program, DREAM high school mentors, the Racial Equity Ambassador Program, and College Scholarships.
  • EDUCATOR INNOVATION SUPPORT: We fund educator innovation through professional development stipends, annual teacher grant awards, the Black Educator Excellence Cohort, and multi-year grants such as the Writing Center at Asheville High and SILSA.
  • CONNECTING TO FAMILIES: We support families and our community by ensuring access to resources. We provide emergency assistance through school social workers for critical needs such as housing and utilities. We form cross-sector partnerships to address barriers to opportunities and access, such as the Broadband Community Connectivity Initiative. We commit to engaging in community conversations and educational events in support of our public schools.

Our Partnership:

ACSF and United Way of Asheville-Buncombe County have been partnering together for over 12 years to deliver transformational opportunities for the students and educators in Asheville City Schools. As an early adopter of the United 4 Youth Partnership Agreement, ACSF is committed to the work of making sure all of our students graduate from high school ready to pursue their

Current Collaborations:


United Way was among In Real Life After-School’s first supporters in 2012. In Real Life serves as a 4th pillar to the UW Community Schools model at Asheville Middle School - providing extended day activities emphasizing real-world learning and problem-solving. IRL has transformed the ways in which our community’s youth and families are served after school. IRL is an intentionally inclusive program that serves young teens, ages 11-14, of all abilities, ethnicities, and backgrounds in Asheville City middle schools. We know that excellent after-school programming is beneficial for all children, but to make this programming accessible, we address barriers by waiving enrollment fees, providing transportation home after programming, and providing snacks both before and after programming.

While all students enrolled in IRL work on increasing social-emotional competencies, we place a special emphasis on our students who need the most support. IRL utilizes United Way’s Early Warning Response System (EWRS) to inform recruitment efforts and evaluate   IRL’s impact upon school-day attendance and behavior. Our Student Advocacy team emphasizes relationship-building which contributes to improvements in attendance and behavior, as measured by United Way’s Early Warning Response System, providing a foundation for academic growth. Throughout the pandemic, IRL enrollment prioritized students with financial need through school administration and social worker referrals. With United Way’s partnership, IRL has now served over 2,300 unduplicated students and counting.

Get Involved:

Snack Packs

IRL is committed to providing healthy snacks each day for all students in programming. IRL is seeking healthy snack packs for the remainder of the school year and for our summer pop-up experiences. Each day of programming, Monday-Thursday, IRL serves approximately 40-50 students. Non-perishable snacks are needed and greatly appreciated. For more information, and to provide snack packs for local students, visit our Hands on Asheville-Buncombe volunteer center

Student Connection to Summer Adventure

This summer, our students have called upon us to provide opportunities to explore their city and engage in adventures which encourage them to live a curious life. If you or someone you know has access to unique opportunities such as hiking with llamas or making glass sculptures and art, please contact IRL’s Program Director, Gregory Hall II at