Growth in the Midst of a Pause

DCI continues to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic through virtual academic and social opportunities and by helping to meet basic needs. (Photo Courtesy of Durham Children’s Initiative)

While the COVID-19 pandemic brings many organizations and plans to a halt, one Durham organization uses the opportunity to expand its reach.

East Durham Children’s Initiative and Partners for Youth Opportunity are excited to announce their merger to form Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI). This merger has allowed for a significantly expanded capacity to help Durham youth successfully transition from high school to college and career, as well as made it possible for the organization to expand its focus from East Durham to Durham County as a whole.

Durham’s Early Childhood Action Plan seeks to ensure that all children are healthy, safe and nurtured, ready to succeed academically, and that their most basic needs are met. (Graphic Courtesy of Durham Children’s Initiative)

Along with its newly county-wide reach, DCI was recently selected to support the development of Durham County’s Early Childhood Action Plan (ECAP), the first of its kind in North Carolina’s 100 counties. This plan will allow DCI to deepen its impact by sharing data, best practices, and lessons learned about providing high-quality early childhood services to families living in poverty. DCI plans to facilitate meetings with partners, create a communications plan, and work with stakeholders to strengthen early childhood systems across Durham County.

To meet the heightened needs of DCI’s growth, the organization’s internal structure has grown significantly. In just the past six months, DCI has welcomed eight new staff members, including Trina Clayeux (Chief Operations Officer), Nick Malinowski (Vice President of Partnerships, Evaluation, and Development), Josephe Featherstone (Vice President of Programs), Haley Allen (Communications and Volunteer Coordinator), and

Brittny Lassiter (Youth Advocate). DCI is also excited to welcome four new board members. Among these new board members are Jeannie Sollars with Bank of America, Brad Brinegar with McKinney, Dr. Stelfanie Williams with Duke University, and Evan Sitton with Pacific Western Bank. These wonderful new partners offer incredible perspective with a variety of industry experience and expertise that will continue to strengthen the efforts of the organization as a whole.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of DCI’s programs have been forced to go virtual or have

paused out of an abundance of caution. However, the organization has spent this time focusing on meeting the basic needs of the community through delivering necessities such as food and toiletries, and have continued their strong focus on education and workforce development among youth and children within Durham County. The organization offers multiple virtual events each week to families and students of all ages, including preschool, tutoring, mentoring, a variety of learning clubs, and job site visits for students. Their recent Holiday event, Holiday Zone, which offers Durham County parents the opportunity to shop for toys for their children, distributed a total of 1,380 toys and 460 books to 275 families in need throughout the area. Over the summer, DCI was able to offer their yearly summer camp virtually to students in an effort to continue fighting against learning loss, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. DCI looks forward to a bright future of continued outreach to families within the Durham community and is excited about the increased opportunities that this new growth offers.

By Haley Banks Harwood Allen – Durham Children’s Initiative 828.719.9311

About Durham Children’s Initiative:

Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that walks alongside Durham County families on the path from cradle to college or career. Learn more about DCI and ways of getting involved by visiting or contacting Haley Allen, Communications and Volunteer Coordinator: