By Kimetha Hill
On Thursday evening, April 17, the Neighborhood House Association hosted its grand-reopening of the Homework Center, located at the NHA Social Services Campus on Euclid Ave. The event drew a sizeable crowd as students, parents, NHA board members and corporate sponsors funneled into the state-of-the-art workroom to celebrate the revamped space.
Neighborhood House Association first created the Homework Center in response to a great need within the community for an adequate afterschool learning environment for students in the surrounding neighborhood. The Homework Center is a free resource that provides state-of-the-art technology that enhances students’ academic progress, building upon lessons taught in school.
The goal is to make academic resources available to children and teens in underserved communities and promote on-going education. This new venture provides exposure to new career opportunities and helps bridge the digital divide in underserved communities. Students will have access to support not readily available in their community.
“Back in 2011, the concept for the homework center came about,” saidNeighborhood House President and CEO, Rudy Johnson. “We envisioned creating a space of quiet enjoyment, a safe haven where children could focus.” Johnson is passionate about the academic development of children, visible through the revamped center. He spoke of his own childhood, coming up through the Head Start, and linking that importance with the Homework Center today.
Arranged in several pods, with multiple computer stations, the Center offers computers – each with touch screen functionality. With a modern design, lightweight furniture, an open-space work environment, new tablets and computers, Wi-Fi internet access, color and black and white printers and free school supplies, students are offered a viable alternative in academics to expand in-school lessons. Vic Baker, NHA Board of Directors Chair and Innovative and Ideas Manager at San Diego Gas & Electric, spoke of the current workforce, and the importance and emphasis on teamwork, and how the Center mirrors the future of the workforce environment.
The Homework Center aims to prepare students for the future, setting them up for success in their jobs, which can only be done by developing an understanding in school work. “The Center will track the progress of each student,” says Johnson, which is a foundational element to its purpose and success. Each student will also have access to free tutoring, another key component. Many students have seen exponential growth in their grades, and an overall improvement in their academic success.
“My favorite subject is Math,” says Natalie Hernandez, a 9 year-old fourth grader who has seen her grades improve after she started coming to the Homework Center. “Taking tests are so much easier now.”
Parent Monica Sanchez also expressed her delight with the Homework Center’s impact on her daughter. “The tutors have great patience,” she says.
Open to students in grades 3 – 12 with Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday hours from 3 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., The Homework Center provides transportation for the students from their schools, and parents pick them up at the conclusion of each session. During their time at there, students also receive free healthy snacks.
Sponsors for the revamped Homework Center include Hewlett Packard, Booz Allen Hamilton, Wells Fargo, Point Loma Nazarene, SDG&E, The Hughes Family Foundation and Jacqueline Sherman-Rustin & Price Charities. NHA expresses that the renovation would not have been possible without their support and donations.
“As the children who come through the Homework Center matriculate, and go on to achieve success as adults in their careers, we want them to then turn around and give back to their community,” said Johnson.