At Duke University, students are busily trying to fit it all in: studying, working and volunteering in the community. Only blocks away from this center of activity, Durham middle and high school students can be found skipping school, selling drugs and getting in trouble.
The Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership hopes to bridge this divide.
Through one of its nonprofit allies, Partners for Youth, the Partnership gives Durham teens positive role models and provides Duke students with opportunities to engage with the community.
Brandon Douglas and Kaitlyn Gorman are evidence that the Partnership works.
Positive Support for Durham Teens
At age 14, Brandon's mother was in prison. It would have been easy to go along with the kids in his neighborhood who were selling drugs. Instead, knowing he wanted to go to college someday, he turned to Partners for Youth and found the support he needed. "I'm proof that where you come from doesn't have to limit where you go," said Brandon.
Brandon says his "road to college would have been a lot harder" without Partners for Youth. "With my community mentor and Duke University tutor, I knew I had a strong team behind me," he said. Brandon was student body president his senior year of high school, and graduated in 2003 with a 3.8 grade point average.
As a business major at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Brandon was an Oprah Winfrey Scholar. During his college career, he traveled to Africa for service work and completed two summer internships at Morgan Stanley in New York.
From Tutor and Mentor, to Friend
As an undergraduate at Duke University, Kaitlyn tutored a high school student who was inspired by a popular film.
After seeing "The Pursuit of Happyness," a movie based on a true story of a homeless man who turns his life around, the teen decided he wanted to make something of himself. His grades now reflect both his ability and his ambition. He plans to go to college and pursue a career in law enforcement.
"It's become a friendship," said Kaitlyn of her relationship with the Durham teen. Beyond assistance with school work, tutors like Kaitlyn provide guidance and encouragement about college and talk with the teens about life issues. Through the Neighborhood Partnership, grants from The Duke Endowment have supported programs similar to Partners for Youth for more than 10 years.
The programs benefit Durham teens and Duke students alike... providing valuable lessons in both worlds.
Susan L. McConnell
Associate Director, Higher Education