Made in Durham Youth Network seeks research project participants

Durham Herald-Sun | February 21, 2016
Members of Made in Durham’s Youth Network prepare to conduct a series of community focus groups on how Durham schools prepare youth for careers.
This story first appeared in the Durham Herald-Sun

Made in Durham’s Youth Network is recruiting volunteers for a research project on how Durham Public Schools (DPS) prepares students for career success.

The Youth Network will conduct five focus group sessions from Feb. 29-March 11. They seek 18 participants for each of five groups that represent people involved in the school-to-career system: DPS high school students, high school teachers, high school counselors, parents of high school students and staff from postsecondary institutions in Durham.

The Youth Network will analyze the results of the focus groups and use what they learn to recommend ways the community can better equip Durham’s young people for career success.

“Data plays a critical role in informing all of the decisions Made in Durham partners use to guide their actions in developing an education-to-career system for our young people,” says Made in Durham Youth Engagement Strategist Joshua Mbanusi. “We want our youth partners to learn to use the same evidence-based model when they provide input into the process and recommend solutions. This research project is the first of many we’ll undertake to provide data for decision-making.”

Made in Durham’s Youth Network consists of young people ages 14-24 who are connected to every facet of the Made in Durham partnership. They bring a critical youth perspective to the work of creating an education-to-career system that enables every young person to graduate from high school, obtain a postsecondary credential and secure meaningful work by age 25.

Youth Network Chair Raeven Gibbs, a N.C. Central University senior studying criminal justice with a concentration in juvenile justice, serves as lead facilitator for the focus groups. She says she is eager to hear what school community participants reveal.

“We’ll ask each of our groups a series of questions to understand how Durham Public Schools prepares students now, and we’ll use that data to make recommendations about how to improve the process,” Gibbs says.

Meanwhile, Youth Network members are gaining valuable research skills they can apply in school and careers, she says. And, importantly, the project will help Youth Network members represent their peers with greater confidence.

“If you’re going to develop policies that affect a generation of people, it’s important you include them in the conversation,” Gibbs says. “The Youth Network is helping provide that voice for Durham’s youth.”

The Youth Network’s focus group sessions will be held:

  • Monday, Feb. 29, 5-6:30 p.m., for DPS high school teachers.
  • Thursday, March 3, 5-6:30 p.m., for DPS high school counselors.
  • Tuesday, March 8, 5-6:30 p.m., for parents of DPS high school students.
  • Thursday, March 10, 5-6:30 p.m., for DPS high school students.
  • Friday, March 11, 3-4:30 p.m., for faculty and staff of Durham Tech.

Anyone interested in participating in a focus group can register at



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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.
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