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Winner's Circle: Parent Co-Op Homework Club

San Jose Public Library

Innovation Leader: Ruth Barefoot, Manager, Santa Teresa Branch Library, ruth.barefoot@sjlibrary.org

Problem Statement

The Homework Center Program has traditionally provided after-school tutoring in the schools and public libraries. Funding for centers at schools was cut this year, resulting in neighborhood outcry by parents on behalf of their children’s homework assistance. These parents came to their local library asking for help only to understand their public library was also losing all funding for Homework Center tutoring. These parents wanted to secure reliable and quality live homework assistance in a safe place and there didn’t seem to be anything formal available.

Innovation

A core of active and dedicated parents from the local Santa Teresa Elementary School coupled with staff from the Santa Teresa Branch Library and the Volunteer Coordinator for SJPL worked together to build a Parent Co-operative Homework Club. The library offered the safe place, supplies, marketing and promotion, training and mentoring. The original interest group of eight parents developed the framework from best practices of homework clubs in their children’s school and from those in San Jose libraries, adapting a single framework for their novice approach. They use a “contract” with parents and students, a training plan that fits their needs, and they receive training as volunteers for the library. The volunteer “supervisors” and “coaches” are sustainable week after week and attract new parent participants and student learners because this core of supervising parents offers enough continuity to provide a support group, collaboration, and sustainability for a quality program for students advancement through course work which gives parents piece of mind.

Progress

The program began in September 2010 and is completely volunteer run. It has little impact on library staff workload, but very high impact on participating families. Participation has gone from 8 parents to 10 active parents, 15 students to 88 students, and 8 active Homework coaches. Students’ grades show sustained improvement for participating. Active homework coaches learn teaching skills. The community members and the library have learned to take a do-it-yourself approach to necessities cut back by the city and state.