East Durham Children’s Initiative and Partners for Youth Opportunity merge to become Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI)

Durham Childrens' Initiative President, David Reese. (Staff photo by Khadijah McFadden)

By David Reese, DCI President

  July 1 marked a monumental day in the history of the Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI). Not only have we officially changed our name to reflect our county-wide work with families and our support of the development of the Durham County Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP), but we have also signed on the dotted line to merge with Partners for Youth Opportunity (PYO). Since 2014, PYO has been partnering with Durham youth to ensure their access to the educational, economic, and social assets they need to experience a self-determined and sustainable life. Together with PYO, we will continue to partner with our community, families, and youth to create opportunities and disrupt systemic inequities. The Durham Children’s Initiative is now the one of the most comprehensive cradle to college/career ecosystems in North Carolina!
From meeting developmental milestones to increasing kindergarten readiness to achieving summer learning gains to improving attendance and academics, DCI and its partners are already leading the way in Durham, providing families, children, and young people with the support and opportunities they need to thrive. Similarly, PYO is a leader when it comes to helping Durham youth build the assets they need to sustainably transition from high school to college and/or career. Over the last five years, 95% of PYO youth have graduated from high school and enrolled in post-secondary education while saving over $100,000 in their own savings accounts. We believe that this unified pipeline of family, child, and youth support will deliver compounding benefits, ensuring that Durham’s young people can build the assets they need to sustainably pursue their goals after high school.

We have a lot of exciting things happening, but as we enter year 10 of implementation, we have work to continue to do, together. While Durham is doing well, there are still families, children, and youth being left behind. To make large scale change, we must remain laser-focused on our “why” – breaking the inequitable cycles of generational poverty.

Thank you for being a part of our journey and for your commitment to our mission, our families, our staff, and our community – none of our success would be possible without your support and our incredible team.   DCI Statement on Racism and Police Brutality
  DCI families and friends,  

This year has been filled with challenges and uncertainty. As we mourn the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others impacted by senseless violence and police brutality, our community continues to face an unprecedented health crisis related to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a community partner that walks alongside families, children, and youth in Durham, the Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI) is in solidarity in calling for justice for the Floyd, Taylor, and Arbery families. But we know calling for justice and accountability is not enough—we must also address the policing, criminal justice, health, education, and economic policies and structures that continue to disproportionately impact and traumatize communities of color. We, as an organization led by an African American man, know that we must confront the issues of systemic and institutional racism and police brutality head on. 

The emotions are justified. We want to acknowledge the anger, fear, and frustration of the people in our community and to thank all the peaceful protesters. For all the wrong reasons, the events of the last week are a stark reminder of what many Black and Brown people in our country face on a daily basis. 

The impact is real. DCI stands with Durham and will do our part to ensure that families have supports in place to address the grief, trauma, and uninvited mental health stress caused by brutality against Black and Brown bodies and the COVID-19 pandemic. We believe that youth are the catalyst of change, and, with partners, we will seek opportunities to engage and empower our youth in expressing their thoughts and working towards growth and healing from this trauma. 

To our families: We want you to know that we will continue to be here for you in addressing the social and emotional needs of you and your children with tools, resources, and activities. 

To our staff: We want you to know that we will continue to support equitable practices, social justice, and being an actively anti-racist organization.  

DCI remains committed to serving our families and knows that we have accountability across the larger community and more work to do within Durham County. We share support for those in our community who have divergent experiences with regard to race and ethnicity and recommit ourselves to uplifting silenced voices. We at DCI value and need your ongoing partnership to do this critical work with our shared community. 

We are grateful for all those working to creative positive and lasting change in Durham and beyond.     COVID 19 STATEMENT, MAY 19 Dear friends,
It’s been nearly two months since all of our lives changed completely. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit DCI families particularly hard: 9 in 10 families have someone whose work hours were reduced or who lost their job; 7 in 10 families say they need food assistance; Nearly half of families report they don’t have a computer at home;and 7 in 10 families need educational activities for their children.   What We’re Doing to Help   A time lapse of one of DCI’s weekly distributions for families    In partnership with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, PORCH-Durham, Diaper Bank of North Carolina, Triangle Ecycling, Swing Pals, and Durham YMCA, DCI has served 290 families through six weekly basic-needs distributions, including: 1,325 boxes of frozen and shelf-stable food $35,500 in gift cards and gift certificates to local grocery stores Monthly diapers for 109 children 68 computers DCI has also transitioned many of its programs to online: Parent Cafes, the DCI LEAP Academy preschool, Story HourYouth Leadership Council, and STEAM Saturdays are all available online via YouTube and Facebook; Our newest program—1 Book/1 DCI—gives families with children in grades 3-5 the opportunity to read a book and haveweekly discussions with other families via Zoom; and DCI Family and Youth Advocates continue to provide families withone-on-one support via phone calls, texting, emails, and video chat.  Thank you for your continued support of the Durham Children’s Initiative during these difficult times. The strength of our community and ecosystem will help all of us get through this together.    Give Today David Reese, MBA  President/CEO   Barker French
Chair, Board of Directors