Alternative schools graduate 125

June 20, 2017
Graduates from Achievement Academy of Durham line up to enter the graduation hall.

Graduates of four Durham alternative education programs walked across stages this spring to receive high school diplomas or GED certificates thanks to the efforts of Made in Durham education partners and a range of academic, career and social supports.

The 125 students graduated from Achievement Academy of Durham, Durham Public Schools’ Performance Learning Center, Durham Technical Community College’s Gateway to College program and Durham Literacy Center.

Among them was Nathan Overby, an Achievement Academy graduate who earned his GED. Nathan’s grandmother recalls bringing young Nathan for a kindergarten entry evaluation in the 1990s and the teacher warning her that her son would never be capable of attending college. Nathan is now enrolled in Durham Tech on the path to a mechanical engineering degree.

“At my old school, I would get off track but, at Achievement Academy, I could work with a tutor one-on-one and I was actually able to focus and concentrate on what I was learning,” Nathan says. “Now I get recognized for being successful.” (Read Nathan’s story)

“These partners are helping us discover what works for young people who have previously disconnected from school or who struggle in a traditional school setting so that we can scale best practices and identify the aspects of systems that need to change in order to help more young people succeed,” said Valerie Anderson, youth transitions strategist for Made in Durham.

Achievement Academy graduate Nathan Overby

The four education partners, along with Life Skills Foundation and United Way of the Triangle, collaborate as Durham Futures, a Made in Durham-directed initiative that pilots a range of academic, career and social supports for “opportunity youth” – those who are disconnected from school and work – ages 14-24. The goal is to help these students earn high school diplomas or equivalent credentials and transition to and persist in a post-secondary degree or credential program that qualifies them for life-sustaining work.

United Way funds two staff positions that provide a range of college- and career-readiness interventions for students enrolled in the Durham Futures partner programs. In the past year, counselors provided enriched college and career preparation, work-based learning and social supports from 180 students – more than half of the students enrolled in the partner programs.

The work of the collaborative is helping inform the Made in Durham partnership about the barriers youth face in reconnecting to the education-to-career system and identify needed systems changes that will help youth access and obtain rewarding careers.

In the coming year, partners will work together to develop strategies for increasing the number of students served, identify and advance system and policy improvements that support opportunity youth, establish a data sharing and analysis system across the partnership to evaluate and inform their interventions, implement a coordinated reengagement strategy, and examine ways to reduce barriers for youth hindered by their involvement in the court system.

Learn more about Durham Futures at


Join our email list for news and information on linking work and learning in Durham.


Provide financial support for Made in Durham community partners and initiatives.

Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, youth-serving nonprofits and young people mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
© 2016 Made in Durham | 359 Blackwell St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 | 919.627.6420 |