Sunday, August 21, 2011

The East Durham Children's Initiative

I'm excited to announce the second nonprofit that BIKE NC will be supporting. The East Durham Children's Initiative (EDCI) is locally focused, but I think that its success will have ripple effects far beyond the community it supports and is a promising model for many North Carolina communities. Here's what they do:

The East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) aims to help kids in East
Durham graduate from high school, ready for college or a career.  Modeled
after the highly successful Harlem Children’s Zone in New York, EDCI is
working to create a pipeline of services from cradle to career for children
in a 120-block area of East Durham. This area, including approximately
3,300 children, youth, and young adults, has been identified as one of the
most distressed, low resource neighborhoods in Durham.  EDCI works closely
with Durham Public Schools (DPS) to ensure kids in this area receive a high
quality education, along with other social supports to address family needs
such as parenting skills, food insecurity, and mental health. EDCI
currently targets three public schools serving kids in this area: YE Smith
Elementary School, Neal Middle School, and Southern High School. In
addition to DPS, EDCI partners with over 30 organizations to provide a
continuum of services to kids and families in the EDCI zone starting from
birth.  EDCI is working to coordinate these organizations and their
services in the community, as well as to fill in the gaps with other
high-quality interventions so that no child falls through the cracks.  EDCI
is committed to their belief that all low-wealth kids deserve access to the
same educational opportunities as high-wealth kids, and that by working
together with others who hold the same belief in Durham, we can make
college or a career a reality for all.

For more information about EDCI, visit:

This is bold work. The truth is that it's easier to address education reform by putting a laser focus on what kind of testing is used to measure learning, or introducing a new style of teaching, to put a band-aid on education and not shoulder the burden of community issues, nutrition, the family environment. The things that impact a child for the 17 or 18 hours a day he's not in school, and truths that come into the classroom. What I like about EDCI is that they not only realize that community and familial challenges need to be addressed with resources, they see the community itself as a resource to be tapped.

Here's just one example: Partnering with a local nonprofit, the Interfaith Food Shuttle, to provide sound nutrition to children over the summer, when they're not in school.

Geoffrey Canada, the founder of the Harlem Children's Zone, a model that informs EDCI, visited the program and noted that EDCI focuses on the health of the whole family, not just the child. They're strengthening schools and the community.

It seems radical, doesn't it? Taking on the home and community challenges of every child? Worrying about what every kid is eating at home, and what might be happening in that home that makes learning difficult? Looking beyond the school walls into high-poverty communities to ensure that every child is equipped with the supports they need to show up ready to learn?

That actually seems like the very beginning of equitable education. And EDCI has figured out the way to make such a gargantuan task sustainable - by seeking to strengthen the community, not quarantine it. Put resources into schools and the neighborhoods around them in partnership. This is why EDCI works with families, not just children. I am so excited to support their cause and hope you are too. Please show your support with a donation and spreading the word to your friends and family. It will add up.

No comments:

Post a Comment