Educators - Community Nights Are For You Too!

Are you, or have you ever been, a teacher? Are you passionate about education and community building? This story is for you.

On an almost weekly basis, something pretty cool happens here in Buncombe County. Local families with K-12 kids can come to one of seven local schools and be a part of Community Nights (featuring Homework Diners). Free to all, families can enjoy a healthy meal, get academic support,  tap into some local community resources, and build relationships with other families and educators. 

Building Back After the Pandemic

Before the pandemic began, Community Nights (called Homework Diners at the time) were in full swing at four schools. At its height, we regularly saw 60 family members a night but during the pandemic, we had to pivot. When we couldn’t meet in person, we reassigned funds earmarked for this event to programs that supported learning pods at local community centers and set up a drive-through meal pick-up so that families could still enjoy a meal together. 

For far too many young people the effects of the pandemic on their academic, social, and emotional health have been devastating. Our schools and partners appreciated the role this event played in nurturing relationships so we knew we had to get back in the swing of things as soon as possible. 

Last year was the first full school year that we were able to run the sessions the way we had originally planned and begin expanding locations. Right now, rebuilding awareness among families AND community volunteers is our biggest focus but we’re excited by some early results from last year.

Of students who attended 4 or more Community Nights: 

  • 31 met or exceeded attendance expectations 
  • 10 met or exceeded behavioral expectations and
  • 83 improved core course grades.  


Don’t Take Our Word For It - Listen to Our Community

We learned about this model of community building from a group doing similar work in New Mexico. The act of sharing a meal is what organizers in that community attributed to the transformed relationships between students, families, and educators.  And we’ve seen it too. But don’t take our word for it. Here are a few quotes from people who attended a Community Night last year: 


Community nights have connected me to my teachers, allowed me to participate in community service at my school, and get help on my homework. (12th grade Asheville High School/SILSA) 

[I like] having a quiet environment to do my school work in and the food (Owen Middle School student)

[I like having the] opportunity to meet with teachers one on one - sit down and focus and we get to eat (Reynolds Middle School student)


I really appreciate this opportunity to meet with teachers and support staff each week. This is accessible and meaningful to me as a parent, especially that we are a new family to the school and community. (Enka)

This time gives him an opportunity to have more direction and support. I enjoy us doing it together. It helps me better support him and his teachers. (AMS)

Community is good to generate confidence to my daughter to improve reading. (Translated from Spanish/Erwin) 

Being able to meet new people. The teachers have all been very kind, and I appreciate them. (Owen)

Teachers and Volunteers

I love everything about Community Night. I LOVE strengthening the relationships with the families the most. (Reynolds)

I love engaging with my students in a different context! I love to see my students outside of Discovery class as it gives me the opportunity to talk with them about their progress in core subjects and even offer tutoring/help as needed. The students always enjoy introducing me to family and appreciate being given assistance on whatever classwork brought them to Community Night. (Reynolds) 

Community Nights are so important to the youth of our community. I was food insecure for much of my childhood. Since I received free lunch at school I knew I’d have a warm lunch, but that was not always the case for dinner. Community Nights afford kids like me a warm dinner, free of judgment - along with some homework help! I knew I wanted to help out with Community Nights as soon as I saw the opportunity. On top of the warm, scrumptious food, I get to meet new people and have some laughs while chatting with dozens of kids who come through the food line. It’s a lovely way to spend an evening. (Asheville High School Volunteer)

How You Can Help

Holding weekly events in seven different communities across Buncombe County is a HUGE undertaking. But it is made easier and possible with great community partners like you. 



  • If you are currently a teacher or administrator in our community, you can help us by promoting the events among your students and their families. While you are at it, you can JOIN US! You can enjoy a meal and connect with families while you are there. 
  • Are you a retired teacher? We’ve had lots of retirees reach out to offer their support to these events. Whether you want to tutor or simply help us create a welcoming environment for the families, we’d love you to join us. Sign up to volunteer here. 
  • Do you have a lot of connections? For those of you who can’t join us in person, we’d welcome your help in spreading the word about Community Nights - at your faith community or in your neighborhood email. Share this landing page to tell people about the schedule of events. 
  • Don’t have a lot of time but want to see this work continue? You can make a gift of any size here and you can join our mailing list to get regular updates about all of our work here. 

Community Nights are funded through grants and individual donations and through volunteer support from local community partners and local businesses.