History

Back in 2008, community leaders had a dream to bring more opportunity to low-wealth children and families in Durham. Over the next decade, their idea evolved into a thriving community-based nonprofit called the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI), which served a single neighborhood of 120 blocks. 

In July 2020, EDCI merged with Partners for Youth Opportunity (PYO), allowing us to expand our pipeline of educational, economic, and social opportunities for youth ages 14-24. Today, EDCI is known the Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI), and our work has scaled across Durham County. Yet our mission remains the same: To walk alongside children, youth, and families and support them on their unique journeys toward college and career.

Launch

  • 2008

    After reading Paul Tough’s book Whatever It Takes, Durham community leaders Wanda Boone, Minnie Forte-Brown, Barker French, and Ellen Reckhow began envisioning EDCI. East Durham was identified as one of Durham’s most distressed neighborhoods by Duke University’s Child Environmental Health Initiative, and the 120-block attendance zone for Y.E. Smith Elementary became EDCI’s service area, the EDCI Zone.

  • 2009-2010

    Community forums about EDCI were held in East Durham. EDCI was incubated at Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Health and hired its first Executive Director, David Reese.

  • 2011

    EDCI became an independent 501(c)3 organization and launched its Parent Advocate program at Y.E. Smith Elementary in partnership with Durham Public Schools. Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone, an inspiration for EDCI’s work, made a visit.

  • 2012

    EDCI moved its offices to Good Shepherd Church in East Durham and began operating several core programs. First Lady Michelle Obama visited with EDCI students at Y.E. Smith Elementary.

Implementation

  • 2015

    EDCI expanded its Parent Advocate program to students attending four public schools in the Zone (Y.E. Smith Elementary, Eastway Elementary, Maureen Joy Charter School, and KIPP Durham College Prep). 

  • 2016

    EDCI launched its first out-of-school time learning programs operated by EDCI staff: two summer camps and STEAM Saturdays. It also created programming for middle schoolers by placing a Youth Advocate at Neal Magnet Middle School.

  • 2017-2019

    EDCI gradually expanded access to its services and programs to include children and families living or attending schools outside the Zone. In 2019, children active in EDCI attended 49 different schools across Durham. The Parent Advocate program was renamed the Family Advocate program. 

Scale

  • 2020

    EDCI merged with Partners for Youth Opportunity (PYO) to form the Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI). PYO was a Durham-based nonprofit helping youth ages 14-24 gain access to the educational, economic, and social assets needed to experience self-determined and sustainable lives. The addition of PYO staff and programs to the DCI ecosystem significantly expanded DCI’s capacity to help Durham youth build successfully transition from high school to college and career.

    DCI was 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. ECAP will allow DCI to deepen its impact countywide by sharing data, best practices, and lessons learned about providing high-quality early childhood services to families living in poverty. DCI will facilitate meetings with partners, create a communications plan, and work with stakeholders to strengthen early childhood systems across Durham County.

  • 2008

    Launch

    After reading Paul Tough’s book Whatever It Takes, Durham community leaders Wanda Boone, Minnie Forte-Brown, Barker French, and Ellen Reckhow began envisioning EDCI. East Durham was identified as one of Durham’s most distressed neighborhoods by Duke University’s Child Environmental Health Initiative, and the 120-block attendance zone for Y.E. Smith Elementary became EDCI’s service area, the EDCI Zone.

  • 2009-2010

    Community forums about EDCI were held in East Durham. EDCI was incubated at Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Health and hired its first Executive Director, David Reese. 

  • 2011

    EDCI became an independent 501(c)3 organization and launched its Parent Advocate program at Y.E. Smith Elementary in partnership with Durham Public Schools. Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone, an inspiration for EDCI’s work, made a visit. 

  • 2012

    EDCI moved its offices to Good Shepherd Church in East Durham and began operating several core programs. First Lady Michelle Obama visited with EDCI students at Y.E. Smith Elementary.

  • Implementation

  • 2015

    EDCI expanded its Parent Advocate program to students attending four public schools in the Zone (Y.E. Smith Elementary, Eastway Elementary, Maureen Joy Charter School, and KIPP Durham College Prep). 

  • 2016

    EDCI launched its first out-of-school time learning programs operated by EDCI staff: two summer camps and STEAM Saturdays. It also created programming for middle schoolers by placing a Youth Advocate at Neal Magnet Middle School.

  • 2017-2019

    EDCI gradually expanded access to its services and programs to include children and families living or attending schools outside the Zone. In 2019, children active in EDCI attended 49 different schools across Durham. The Parent Advocate program was renamed the Family Advocate program. 

  • Scale

  • 2020

    EDCI merged with Partners for Youth Opportunity (PYO) to form the Durham Children’s Initiative (DCI). PYO was a Durham-based nonprofit helping youth ages 14-24 gain access to the educational, economic, and social assets needed to experience self-determined and sustainable lives. The addition of PYO staff and programs to the DCI ecosystem significantly expanded DCI’s capacity to help Durham youth build successfully transition from high school to college and career.

    DCI was 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. ECAP will allow DCI to deepen its impact countywide by sharing data, best practices, and lessons learned about providing high-quality early childhood services to families living in poverty. DCI will facilitate meetings with partners, create a communications plan, and work with stakeholders to strengthen early childhood systems across Durham County.