Homework Diner

Deanna Creighton Cook, Community School Coordinator
Manzano Mesa Elementary School

Describe the project a SPROUT Grant would help you accomplish:

The project we would like to fund is called Homework Diner. We had a
successful 6‐week pilot in the spring. It is held once a week, from 5:30‐7:00
in our school’s gymnasium. A home‐cooked meal is offered free of charge to
all participating families and staff members followed by one hour of teacherled
homework instruction on every grade level. The teachers not only help
the children with their homework, but also instruct parents who may be
unsure of curriculum, etc. Families are registered in one of two ways: 1. they
choose to attend on their own or 2. the school counselor, principal, teachers
and the coordinator use attendance and truancy data and test scores to
contact families who appear to be struggling and encourage them to attend
HD.

How will you use the grant toward the realization of your project? $750 is your imaginary budget:

The $750 grant money would pay for food for the family dinners. It would
also help pay for the time and a half salary of our cafeteria manager who will
be supervising the food prep. Two parent volunteers who are culinary
students will prepare the meals.

A little about yourself and what led you to your current creative goals. This may include a previous project of yours, ways it both succeeded and failed (this can be entirely unrelated to your proposal):

I first started volunteering at Manzano Mesa two years ago, shortly after we
moved to Albuquerque from Vermont. I began to get involved with the APS
district School Health Advisory Council and that led to my current position at
the school as Community School Coordinator. Part of my job is to identify
students who are about to fall through the cracks academically and to gather
a team that will build support structures around these families so that they
can succeed. Some of those supports include programs like Homework Diner.
Others are Spanish Literacy classes, ESL classes, preschool education and
neighborhood leadership development. It is very rewarding work and I love
it.

Why is this project important? How will it benefit the Albuquerque community?

This project is important because we have found, through needs assessment,
that many of our parents do not understand their children’s homework
assignments. Further, we have learned that some of the parents, especially
those who are not native English speakers, are not literate in their native
language so sending explanations home, even in their native language, is not
helpful. Also parents sometimes feel intimidated and unsure of how to
approach teachers, especially if a language or cultural barrier already exists.
We think that this project will benefit our community’s families by boosting
academic achievement but also in creating a space where parents can feel
engaged in their children’s success and connected to the teachers and staff.