AOC’s Homework Helpers Program is Free and Ready to Help

Photo: Mark Hallum

AOC’s Homework Helpers Program is Free and Ready to Help

While my oldest has been fully remote, there have been instances where I have overheard students struggling or expressing not having the support they need on an assignment, especially homework. Many parents know this all too well; homework packets every year are frankly next level. It is heartbreaking to hear of this struggle. This is by no fault of the teachers and parents who are busier than ever wearing many hats in the household. I.e., I am now a Spanish teacher, history fact-checker, and a lunchtime short-order cook, amongst all the tasks I juggle daily. And let’s remember there are parents where English is not their native language, which very much factors in when trying to help your child with schoolwork. 

This is a struggle that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her staff know of well. As a representative of District 14, Ocasio-Cortez represents more than 650,000 people across parts of the Bronx (Pelham Gardens, City Island, Country Club, Van Nest, Morris Park, Parkchester, Pelham Bay, Schuylerville, Allerton and Throggs Neck in the Bronx) and Queens (Astoria, College Point, Corona, North Corona, East Elmhurst, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, Sunnyside, and Woodside). These communities have been some of the hardest hit by the pandemic. The need is transparent — students and parents in remote learning need support, especially after the Zoom class day has ended. 

Understanding these challenges, the Ocasio-Cortez campaign launched a free Homework Helpers Program. Launched first as a pilot program that ran for seven weeks working with 100 students — the initiative is now up and running with a goal to connect 1,000 students in District 14 by the end of June 2021. And the program is ready to grow. After a successful sign-up of volunteers, the program is prepared to help students in other parts of the city. 

Jonathan Soto, Political Organizer at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and an organizer other Homework Helpers Program, says, “Since we have such an overwhelming amount of folks that want to participate, we are going to help folks do this in their own neighborhood if they are interested.” Soto expanded, “Our partnership model is we work with the PTA or parents association, and now we will probably open it up to community groups and mutual aid groups.”

How it works now is a student is connected to a homework helper, a session is set up for the student, and their guardian, who then have a one-hour tutor session in a Zoom break-out room. In January, the Homework Helpers Program plan to have groups meet. These working groups will focus on small group lessons, college prep, career readiness, and something kids will love — video game social sessions. 

AOC’s team stresses that the program’s fine-tuning is a work in progress, and Homework Helpers is a mutual-aid project, not an educational program. And while the response of people volunteering has been amazing, Homework Helpers is still being worked on so that the program is efficient and safe. 

The campaign hopes this project will be utilized by communities everywhere who will see how a program such as Homework Helpers can benefit a family. 

And while remote school has been challenging, there is a silver lining that a program such as this has limitless possibilities. Sota shares, “There is no limit to who can do this virtually.”

Who is AOC? Check out our Schneps Connects Podcast Series, Who is AOC? With US Congress member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez