Made in Durham Gets Computers for Students in Need

February 27, 2019
Pictured left to right: Ajmera Liles, Rotcelis Jones, and Arem Fernandez

by Lindsey Paydon

Access to a computer can be crucial for educational and career success, but many of Durham’s youth do not have the funds to purchase their own. Fortunately, Made in Durham has been able to expand computer access for Durham youth with a technology grant from United Way of the Greater Triangle. The grant awarded 75 refurbished computers including both desktop and laptop computers to be distributed to Durham Futures students in need.

Durham Futures is a collaborative partnership that includes nontraditional education programs like the Durham Literacy Center or Performance Learning Center. The partnership works to connect at-risk or disconnected youth to educational and work-based learning experiences so they can obtain a meaningful career by age 25.

Ajmera Liles was just one of the Durham Futures students who received a laptop from this grant. Ajmera grew up in a single parent household and didn’t end up finishing high school. After seeing her friends graduating and getting into college, she made the decision to get her GED and go back to school.

“Financially, being raised by a single mother, we struggled a lot and I didn’t want to struggle anymore. I wanted to be able to take care of myself financially,” says Ajmera. 

Fortunately, the Achievement Academy offers free GED classes, so Ajmera was able to get the help she needed. After graduating from the program and receiving her GED, she started applying for schools. Rotcelis Jones, Made in Durham’s Transition Support Specialist, had been working with Ajmera advising her while she was attending the Achievement Academy. Ajmera’s work ethic and long-term goals were clear. Rotcelis knew she was a perfect candidate and would greatly benefit from having her own laptop.

Ajmera says the laptop has been very useful for her college applications. She has since been accepted to Wake Tech and is planning on getting her Dental Assisting Diploma.

“It will definitely come in handy when I need to take placement tests and when I do homework outside of class,” Ajmera says.

Made in Durham will slowly roll out the remaining laptops and computers in the coming months. With the support of our individual donors and grant funders, we are closing the financial opportunity gap here in Durham one youth at a time!



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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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