Homework Central was conceived and launched in 1998 following an annual church meeting held in North Central San Mateo. As a result, members of the Congregational Church of San Mateo, Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo, Chalice Christian Church, and Peninsula Interfaith Action committed themselves to supporting neighborhood children who were struggling to succeed in elementary school. A program was envisioned that would engage retired persons, working adults and youth as volunteer tutors with the objective of providing homework assistance and mentoring to at-risk elementary school children in Grades 3 through 5, all in a safe and welcoming environment.
In the early years of our program, 60% of our students were African American children living in the immediate North Central neighborhood in San Mateo. This demographic has since changed. Currently, over 95% of our students come from economically challenged Hispanic families where Spanish is the predominant language spoken in the home. They live in the same North Central neighborhoods that were formerly occupied by African American families.
For the past 19 years, Homework Central has operated several after school sites. Currently, we have locations at Sunnybrae Elementary, College Park Elementary, San Mateo Park Elementary, and the Unitarian Universalists of San Mateo. Sites are open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm and Wednesday from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Healthy snacks are provided before students begin their homework.
Each site is manned by an adult Site Coordinator and two bi-lingual Student Tutors who are either high school or college students. Sites are designed to accommodate 20-25 students, depending upon the number of consistent volunteers available to work with students. In order to participate in the Homework Central program, students are recommended by teachers as needing additional support in order to bring them to grade level proficiency in reading, writing and mathematics.