A Look Into Family Homework Night

A group of ethnic and denominational diverse Christian leaders came together and asked how they could unite to help Philly flourish. The Philadelphia Gospel Movement emerged from this quest to serve Philly. Once they heard about the goal to have children in Philadelphia reading at grade level by 4th grade, they got to work.

While there are an abundance of daytime volunteer opportunities, some members of the congregations could not attend due to work and other commitments. When the leaders of these congregations recognized that there was a shortage of available after-work volunteer opportunities, they decided to change that.

Dave Brindley, of the Philadelphia Gospel Movement, wanted to create a different type of after-school program. With support from Read by 4th and Dr. Heseung Song, Family Homework Night launched in September.

Family Homework Night is the collective effort of four churches in the Brewerytown neighborhood. We view churches as one of the few community spaces in every neighborhood that is open late into the evening. There was never any spiritual content shared and community members (with a completed background check) were welcome to volunteer.

The books were purchased through the Read by 4th Innovation Fund Grant and the City Church Literacy Fund. Students connected with books they loved and even took some books home for their home library.

For eight weeks, each of the four congregations took turns providing dinner for K-3 students from Robert Morris Elementary School, and their families. After dinner, the students enjoyed story-time with a parent or a trained volunteer. To empower the parents to read with their children, brief reading training programs were held.

One volunteer, who formed meaningful connections with students and the principal, now serves weekly as a volunteer at Robert Morris. She was thrilled when she found out that one of her students went up one reading level since starting Family Homework Night!

Robert Morris Elementary School is excited for this program to continue in the spring and there is interest in expanding Family Homework Night to South Philly, Mt. Airy, and North Philly next year!

Dave Brindley brings people together to solve problems. Professionally, he is the collaboration director for the Philadelphia Gospel Movement, bringing Christian leaders together to address our city’s greatest needs. Also, working with our tech community, he launched the anti-litter site Not in Philly. This is the first map-enabled, adopt-a-block site in the country, with over 1,300 members.