The Pillars of Community Schools: Expanded and Enriched Learning Time


Community Schools are one of the most tangible and robust examples of how United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County (UWABC) plays a backbone role in supporting the young people of our county. With UWABC Community School Coordinators in all 7 of the Community Schools, we also help to ensure the 4 pillars on which the community school strategy relies are being implemented throughout the campuses. 

The Four Pillars of a Community School are as follows: 

Today we will be diving into the pillar of Expanded and Enriched Learning Time, where we will see examples of our local Community Schools and partners working to ensure that this pillar is showing up every day.



When you hear of expanded and enriched learning time, this references enrichment beyond the school day and year, including tutoring, experiential learning (science and computer coding camps, for example), sports, music, and art. However, not all students have access to the same resources and funding that give the opportunity to a more constant learning environment. To combat the opportunity gap that happens within the pillar of Expanded and Enriched Learning Time there can be policies and grants that are put into place that support bringing in community partners and/or pay teachers and school staff to support afterschool programs. 


For example, in summer 2023, UWABC supported Buncombe County Schools with their application for Dogwood Health Trust's WNC After 3pm grant opportunity.  This grant, "After School Programs at Owen Middle School," was funded for three years to support ongoing, equitable access to after school programming. Owen Middle is a shining example, but other community schools are investing into afterschool programming and community partnerships related to expanded learning time.


And if you look at any of the community schools you will see this strategy being used in a wide variety of ways and a variety of ways that UWABC shows up to support the work. We have the amazing opportunity to have community schools in both Asheville City and Buncombe County Schools. Within ACS you will see programs like IRL (in Real Life). In Real Life After-school provides youth-informed programs that have hands-on, equitable, and accessible after-school experiences for all Asheville City Schools middle school students. Another partner in this work, which is funded separately through a federal 21st Century grant, is Delta House. Delta House provides a wide range of services to students in grades 6-12 and their families on-site at Asheville Middle as well as in the community. Their LEAAP (Learning through Expanded Academics and the Arts Program) for Success after-school program offers academic tutoring, homework, a web-based curriculum for building skills, and STEAM programs.



Looking toward Buncombe County Schools you will see the strong support for our community schools  coming from UWABC. In alignment with the community school pillar of expanded and enriched learning time, United Way has chosen to fund BCS Community Schools to provide stipends for teachers and school staff who want to run after-school programs. From running clubs, math clubs, reading and the arts- the funding provided by UWABC ensures that opportunity is there for students to expand their learning time around subjects that interest them.


Expanded and enriched learning time is essential to the community school strategy, UWABC, and our students for several reasons. By emphasizing expanded and enriched learning time, community schools and UWABC work to close the opportunity gap and ensure that all students have access to enriching experiences outside regular school hours. These programs provide additional academic support, hands-on learning experiences, and opportunities for students to explore their interests, ultimately contributing to their overall academic achievement and personal growth.


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