Made in Durham’s New Youth Network Cohort

June 8, 2020

Despite the many unique challenges Made in Durham’s 5th Youth Network (YN) cohort faced, they were still able to wrap up action projects in their schools and complete the selection process for the new cohort. We are so incredibly proud of the Youth Network members for persevering and are excited to be welcoming the new members this August.

Youth Network History and Overview

The Youth Network has been a vital part of Made in Durham since the pilot group started in 2014. As Made in Durham works toward its vision of connecting all Durham youth to post secondary credentials and rewarding careers, we recognize the only way to do this successfully is through a strong and meaningful youth-adult partnership. Youth are key stakeholders in our work so they need to be decision makers at the table and part of Made in Durham’s partnership.

Through a vigorous nomination and selection process, roughly 30 members are selected to serve in the Youth Network each year. The Youth Network is essential for MID to implement its Youth Engagement Strategy. Through peer interviews, the Network select members to serve as voting members on Made in Durham’s board, advisory team, and other leadership and working committees. Through action projects, Made in Durham is able to partner with youth to identify and address racial inequities in their schools.

Youth Network 5th Cohort Successes and Milestones

  • 22 Youth Network members graduated high school this year! Some will be started college while others will be entering the work force.
  • 9 youth served on Made in Durham governing bodies including the board of directors, advisory team, and work-based learning collaborative.
  • Action Projects – Here are just a few examples of the action projects Youth Network members have been working on:
    • Culturally Responsive Curricula at Early College – The team at Early College has been collaborating with principal Dr. Gloria Woods-Weeks, teachers, and Director of Equity Affairs Dr. Kelvin Bullock on adapting a more culturally responsive curriculum at their school. Learn more about culturally responsive curriculums here.
    • Durham Tech Dual Enrollment Courses at Hillside New Tech – The Hillside New Tech team is working with their Durham Tech liaison, Jillian Davis, to improve experiences and outcomes of Hillside New Tech students taking dual enrollment courses at Durham Tech.
    • Middle College Wrap Around Service Info-graphic – The Middle College team worked with Assistant Director of College Recruitment at Durham Tech, Dr. Ariyo, to develop an info-graphic on available wrap around support systems for incoming juniors. The next cohort will be working with the school to decide how the new resource will be shared and distributed.
  • Addition of new internship and volunteer positions – Action projects have always required a substantial amount of planning and organizing, so this year Made in Durham added new partners to serve on an organizing team to help members achieve their action project goals.
    • 3 volunteers from Duke University joined to help groups organize and plan their projects. Thank you Katie Lustig, Tessa Delgo and Ray Liu for your help!
    • Lennda Chen joined the Youth Network as a high school graduate to assist in action projects. Although not an intern, Linda joined the Youth Network as a paid young adult member to take on a leadership position to support other action projects.
    • Katherine Shor started as a volunteer and transitioned to part-time position to help with recruitment.
    • Bethlehem Ferede, former Youth Network member, also became the first paid intern to serve with the group for an entire year. In addition to assisting with action projects, Bethlehem led and helped facilitate the network’s monthly meetings.

Coming into the intern role was intimidating at first because I didn’t fully know what to expect or whether I would really be a helpful partner in the game-changing work that YN members do at their schools. That intimidation didn’t last long, though — the space I worked in was always welcoming and I truly felt like my suggestions and ideas were met with people who listened and cared. I was given the opportunity to be personally invested in the work I was doing, and working with other young people and staff who were also equally as invested was such a fulfilling experience.” – Bethlehem Ferede

Welcoming the 6th Cohort

Moving to a virtual selection process – Despite the many barriers that COVID-19 created for the Youth Network this year, our director of youth engagement Dan McKinney and YN members were able to continue their nomination and selection process virtually. Community interest meetings (meetings held to explain and answer questions about the YN for nominated youth) were held over zoom instead of in person in the span of 2 weeks.

55 youth were nominated to join the YN this year and 22 were ultimately selected to join. 11 Durham Public High Schools are represented as well as the NC School of Math and Science.

We are excited to welcome this new group that will start on August 31st. The group will continue to meet virtually until stay at home orders are lifted and we determine it is appropriate and safe to begin meeting in person again. Despite the unique circumstances, the Youth Network and Made in Durham is committed to continuing our work in breaking down racial systemic barriers that stand in the way of success for Durham’s youth.



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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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