The Office of Durham and Regional Affairs has been a proud partner and supporter of local non-profits Partners for Youth and YO:Durham. Partners for Youth launched out of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership before becoming an independent non-profit, and the office has hosted or sponsored several bright YO:Durham interns. When leadership of both organizations began to consider whether they could better serve their young clients with a combined effort, the office pitched in to help them think it through.
The Duke-Durham Strategic Initiative Fund helped to hire a consultant to assess whether merging the programs would improve outcomes for local youth. And when it was decided that Partners for Youth Executive Director Julie Wells would lead the new organization, she took advantage of the Duke-Durham Fellowship to prepare for the shift and to consider how to broaden collaboration and cost-sharing with additional non-profits serving Durham youth.
Durham and Regional Affairs congratulates and commends the staff of both organizations for the move, officially announced in the release below:
February 24, 2014
DURHAM, NC – Partners for Youth and YO:Durham have announced a new name for their combined organizations. The organization will be called Partners for Youth Opportunity once the merger becomes final in July 2014.
The new name was unveiled at the annual YO:Durham “Making the Grade” fundraising breakfast on February 20th. Julie Wells, named as Executive Director of the new organization, said on the subject of the new name, “The emphasis in our new name is on the word ‘partners.’ We work with many groups in the community in order to best serve our students. That will continue. The new name combines the names of our two organizations to emphasize the continuity of the best of both programs.”
In transitioning to a new organization, Partners for Youth Opportunity is integrating both organizations’ programs by developing a multi-year, year-round program that has the potential to continue through the first year of college. It will offer more options for more people in more locations.
Partners for Youth (PFY) and YO:Durham (a program of Durham Congregations in Action), made the decision to merge after nearly a year of discussion. Both organizations serve youth in Durham, NC.
Partners for Youth and YO:Durham complement each other in mission and operations. The proposed mission of the combined organization will be “(to) partner with the community to provide Durham youth with opportunities to connect, develop, and contribute through mentoring, employment and educational support.”
Currently, PFY strives to provide Southwest Central Durham teenage students with educational and professional enrichment opportunities and positive relationships that will enhance each student’s life skills and aspirations for the future. YO:Durham’s focus is on empowering youth and preparing them for the 21st century workplace by providing teens with a year of opportunity to impact the course of their lives.
Zane Shelter, PFY Board Chair said, “The key benefit of the merger is to bring together two organizations to provide more opportunities for students and better outcomes for all stakeholders, while creating a more stable and resilient organization. We plan to keep the best of both worlds intact.”
PFY was originally founded by Duke University as part of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Initiative. Although today PFY is an independent nonprofit, Duke continues to support it in a variety of ways. “Duke has provided the funds for the merger assessment process. We affirm our commitment and ongoing support to both organizations” said Sam Miglarese, Director of Community Engagement, Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, Office of Durham Regional Affairs.
Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham, Duke Congregations in Action (DCIA) President Emeritus said, “This is a merger in spirit that formalizes a stronger partnership by blending the two organizations. The new Board (and supporting committees) will contain members from both organizations and the proposed new program will contain all of the important elements of both heritage organizations.”
YO:Durham is an initiative of DCIA, which has frequently served as an incubator for start-up nonprofit initiatives since 1969. YO:Durham was always intended to be spun off from DCIA. After seven years as a DCIA program, YO:Durham was poised to become a stand alone organization. It was at this point that merger talks began between PFY and YO:Durham. “We are excited at the possibility of bringing the two organizations together,” said Spencer Bradford, DCIA Executive Director.
Julie Wells, currently Executive Director of Partners for Youth, will become Executive Director of the new agency. “Julie truly has the ability to bring together and energize those around her. She sees the big picture,” said Lee Wollman, PFY Vice Chair.
Dr. Susan Blackmon, Program Director of YO:Durham plans to retire in on May 31, 2014. “The proposed merger gives me the opportunity to go on to the next chapter of my life without compromising the program I care so much about,” said Blackmon.
No job loss is expected due to the merger.
Partners for Youth (PFY) is a year-round mentoring and summer job program for middle and high school students (ages 14 – 19 years) based in Southwest Central Durham. It was founded by Duke University as part of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership Initiative. In 2004, it became an independent nonprofit organization.
PFY works with Durham youth who come from low income and/or first generation immigrant families to build resiliency and non-cognitive skills that will propel them through high school, into college, and into careers that support their families, their communities and help to break the cycle of poverty.
Using a model, that includes mentoring and tutoring, PFY has had a significant impact on the students in their program:
YO:Durham (Year of Opportunity for Durham Teens) is an initiative of Durham Congregations in Action (DCIA). DCIA is an organization of spiritual communities committed to making Durham a community of justice and peace. YO:Durham serves youth in Durham, NC. Participants are 15 – 17 years of age who are enrolled in a high school or GED program. This year-long program features a six-week Summer Career Academy, internships, mentoring, and volunteering for community projects. Their goals are to increase high school graduation, increase enrollment in post-secondary education, to increase workplace preparedness, and to decrease the number of students in the juvenile justice system.
Measured impact on the students in their program: