Tools for Schools: Eblen Charities gives out more than one million school supplies through the Ingles Tools for School Program and partnerships with WLOS, Asheville Citizen Times, iHeartMedia, Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry and Great Smiles, and Biltmore Church. School supplies are collected at the Ingles Tools for School Drive and then distributed to more than 1,400 local school children in need.

Graduation Initiative: Few thought it could be done. After all, most educators had seen this before, and at the outset, this looked like just one more idea in a long line of drop-out prevention programs.

Some programs had worked, some didn’t, but in the midst of it all, the one thing that never waned was the commitment of everyone in the Buncombe County School System to ensure that when all students leave school they do so with a diploma in their hand.

But those who were in doubt in the beginning regarding the new Graduation Initiative partnership between Buncombe County, Buncombe County Schools, and Eblen Charities are not in doubt anymore.

Thanks to the courage, vision, innovation, and leadership of Buncombe County Schools Superintendent Dr. Tony Baldwin and Graduation Initiative Director Kaye Lamb, the Graduation Initiative has led to a more than 60% reduction in the drop-out rate since the 2006-2007 school year.

Area Schools See Lowest Numbers in History

The initial goal of the Graduation Initiative, initially set in 2006, was to reduce the number of students leaving school before receiving their diploma to below 300. Now, having achieved that goal, the Graduation Initiative has set their next goal to reducing the number of students dropping out to less than 200 and eventually to bring that number to zero.

Keeping students in school and helping to provide a better future for them has always been at the heart of the Graduation Initiative. But there is another aspect of the work of the program that greatly affects everyone in our community, state, and country as well.

As many of us know, lower dropout rates also make a tremendous difference for the economic health of our community. Each additional student who graduates brings with him or her $275,000 during the graduate’s lifetime due to increased tax revenue, fewer health care costs, reduced criminal justice costs, and less need for public assistance – a great benefit to taxpayers and everyone in our community.

The success of the Graduation Initiative, has by this measure, provided a savings of $ 160,600,000 for Buncombe County, North Carolina, and the Nation since its inception in 2006.

The programs of the Graduation Initiative are as varied as the students they serve. Programs such as Twilight School, Middle and Early College, Summer Bridge programs and working one on one with students have added to the success of the Graduation Initiative. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Graduation Initiative team, the principals, faculty and staff of Buncombe County Schools, the Buncombe County Commissioners, and Eblen Charities, hundreds of students have been given a brighter future.

“In 2006 when the graduation initiative began, who would have predicted that we would have achieved the success reflected nine years later through a 57% reduction in dropout numbers?” states Dr. Tony Baldwin, Superintendent of Buncombe County Schools. “Under the leadership of Kaye Lamb and highly dedicated efforts of our specialists Sharon Fish, Jill Connor, and Emily Walters, and the partnership between Buncombe County schools, Eblen Charities and the Buncombe County Commissioners, the Graduation Initiative has reached a new milestone in success. I strongly believe that high school graduation has become increasingly significant as the minimum standard to achieving any future success for young adults in this highly global economy. The Graduation Initiative represents our school system’s unwavering commitment to increasing the number of students attaining their diplomas.”

AvL Technologies/Eblen Charities All SET Program: The Avl Technologies / Eblen Charities All SET (Student Educational Technology) program helps ensure that every student in Buncombe County Schools will have the ability to access the internet at home even though they may not have had it previously or presently have the internet at home. AvL Technologies, the innovative industry leader in satellite communications, and Eblen Charities have created a new partnership that will help bring online services to students in Buncombe County Schools who may not have been able to afford them.

This strategic partnership provides mobile “Homework Hotspots” for hundreds of students that connect the tablets provided to the students by Buncombe County Schools and can only be used only for specific programs and educational content that is approved by the school system.

The All SET program will be instrumental in closing the “homework gap” that students face without having internet access at home. At the grade levels where students are taking devices home, All Set will allow teachers to know that students can complete assignments at home, allow every student to have the same access as their classmates, and keep them more engaged.

“AvL is very pleased to have the opportunity to work in conjunction with Eblen Charities to provide connectivity to the home of those students without access to the World Wide Web for connection back to their school and controlled connectivity to the rest of the world.” states Jim Oliver, President, and Founder of AvL Technologies.


If there is one thing that ushers in spring in our mountains besides the welcome warm weather and the beautiful flowers that adorn our mountains, it is a return to the baseball diamond at historic McCormick Field. When the Asheville Tourist Baseball team takes to the field, we know that spring has finally arrived and with that another wonderful outreach that touches the lives of thousands of families each year.

Created in 2008 the “If The Shoe Fits” program, to helped expand the Tourists outreach in providing shoes to children in our community for parents who couldn’t afford them. Beginning in 1998, as the Asheville Tourists Children’s Fund, with a simple goal to help ensure that as many kids as possible have warm, comfortable footwear.

During the past decade, in partnership with Eblen Charities’ “If The Shoe Fits” program, Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, and Payless ShoeSource, the Eblen / Asheville Tourist Children’ Fund has provided tens of thousands of shoes.

With the first pitch of each Tourist Baseball season crossing the plate a week ago, the “If The Shoe Fits” program also began its fundraising season by selling wristbands at “Thirsty Thursday” games at McCormick Field. “We always get excited this time of year; it’s getting warm, springtime is coming and we get to see our friends on the Eblen / Asheville Tourists Children’s Fund advisory board as we gather to sell wristbands,” said vice-president Martha Ball. “We’re glad to give a little of our time so children in our area can have shoes.”

The Children’s Fund also holds an annual golf tournament each summer to raise funds and offers a sponsorship program and for a $25 donation, you can “Sponsor A Child” to purchase a pair of shoes.

The “If The Shoe Fits” program is part of the Eblen Student Clothing Project which partners with Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, Buncombe County Health and Human Services, and the Walnut Cove Members Association to provide clothing and shoes to students in our community throughout the year. More than 3,000 students each year are assisted through the Student Clothing Project.

For more information of the Eblen Charities Student Clothing Project or the If the Shoe Fits Program please visit, contact Susan Riddle at [email protected], or visit www.asheviiletourists

The Williams/Baldwin Teacher Campus: A unique partnership that helps bring and retain quality teachers to our community first opened its doors to a waiting list of educators in the spring of 2017.

The Williams-Baldwin Teacher Campus, a 24 unit apartment complex provides two bedroom/two bath apartments for approximately $915 a month for teachers in the Buncombe County and Asheville City School Systems.

The campus is named in honor of Roy and Wanda Williams and Buddy and Rosa Lee Baldwin, area educators that have impacted countless lives in our community and across the nation.

“We are grateful for this wonderful opportunity. Since the early days of Eblen
we have strived to reach out to those in need in our community and hopefully move our community forward,” added Bill Murdock, executive director of Eblen Charities.

“As many programs we have been fortunate to be part of, there has never been anything like this. We have no stronger partners than Buncombe County and the school systems. We see everyday the importance of what our educators have in our community and it is an honor for us to be able to help provide a wonderful place for them to live. This isn’t affordable or work force housing this is Smart Housing.”

The Williams-Baldwin Teacher Campus is a partnership between Buncombe County , the State Employee’s Credit Union, Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools, Eblen Charities, and the Eblen Center for Social Enterprise and is located across Eblen Intermediate and Erwin High School.

For more information on the Williams-Baldwin Teacher Campus and Eblen Charities and the Center for Social Enterprise please contact Bill Murdock at 828-242-2848 or [email protected],org.

Buncombe County/Eblen Charities Emergency Assistance Partnership: Much like our original Emergency Assistance Program the Buncombe County/Eblen Charities Emergency Assistance Partnership provides assistance to families in short-term financial crisis due to unusual circumstances.  This program is in conjunction with the Work First Program and is open for families with children who have at least one parent employed.  The program pays for utility deposits, rent, electricity, gas and water.

The Arby’s Joyfull Holidays at Home Program: Summer vacation, spring break, Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays are the time of year that most students look forward to as homework, tests, and classes give way to sleeping late, and just enjoying a break from their studies.

But for far too many students, this time away from school means only one thing and that is the fear that they will not
have enough to eat during their time away from school.

One in five children in our community struggle with hunger each day and many times the meals they receive at school is
the only food they will have to eat.

When the holidays arrive, they face the chance of going hungry until they are back in class.

But during these extended breaks the Arby’s / Eblen Charities JoyFULL Holidays at Home provides meals to area students
to help make sure that no child in our community goes hungry.

Thanks to Joe Brumit, the Brumit Restaurant Group, and the Arby’s Foundation students have the food they need
during time away from school. This is done by providing free Arby’s meal cards to students in Buncombe County.
Since its inception more than two million meals have been distributed.

“We are very happy to continue our partnership with Eblen Charities and the Arby’s Foundation to help insure that
hungry children are fed during their extended breaks from school. No child should ever go hungry and it is our goal
to insure that in our hometown, and we hope to help spread this same attitude as far and wide as possible,”
states Joe Brumit, president of the Brumit Restaurant Group.

The Arby’s JoyFULL Holidays at Home was created in the fall of 2013 in response to a growing need in our community. Many times the meals students receive at school is the only food they will have to eat and when the holidays arrive, they face the chance of going hungry until they are back in class.

Ingles Markets, the Sothern Conference, as well as area wrestling teams, basketball teams, football teams, as well as a great number of shools, organizations, and businesses have joined the fight in collecting food through the Ingles Food for Thought Program and Heroes vs Hunger, Hoops Against Hunger, and Huddle Against Hunger to add tens of thousands of pounds of food to be given to the students as they leave for the holidays.

For more information on Arby’s JoyFull Home for the Holidays please contact Bill Murdock at Eblen Charities at
828-242-2848 or via email at [email protected]

The Food for Thought School Lunch Program: In alliance with the Buncombe County and Asheville City School Systems, the Food for Thought School Lunch Program provides assistance for any and all children who cannot afford lunch during the school day and are not eligible for the federal free or reduced lunch program.  All children are eligible for the program and referrals are made to Eblen by area schools.  Each child enrolled receives a prepaid lunch card, the same as all other children prepaying for their lunch and the schools then bill the Eblen Charities.  The children do not know where the cards come from as they maintain their dignity and are not identified or singled out as someone in need.

The Food for Thought Snack Program: The Ingles and Eblen Charities Food for Thought program works within the local school systems to provide snacks for local children who are not able to bring a snack to school.  Operating under the premise that children cannot learn if they are hungry, this partnership serves hundreds of children each year.  Thanks to our partners tens of thousands of snacks will be provided to local children at no cost who may not be able to bring snacks to school.

The Food Stamp Intervention Program: Created with the assistance of Buncombe County Department of Social Services Director, Mandy Stone, this partnership helps provide assistance to families awaiting their food stamps.  Out of concern for the families needing food stamps and the fact that they may be without food while they wait for their card to arrive, DSS joined Hearts with Hands, Ingles Markets, and Eblen Charities in providing assistance to help them bridge the gap between hunger and help.