Empowered Students


Empowered Teachers


Empowered College Graduates

Student U is a college-access organization that believes all students in Durham have the ability to succeed.

In order to make this dream a reality, Student U creates a pipeline of services to support students through middle school, high school and college. By providing direct services during out of school time in the summer and after-school, and advocating for students and families within schools, we ensure that our students develop the academic skills and personal well-being needed to beat the statistics and succeed in college.

Our Mission

The mission of Student U is to empower students in the Durham Public Schools to own their education by developing the academic skills and personal well-being necessary to succeed in college and beyond.

Long Term Desired Outcomes:

  • Students achieve educational success.
  • Students have the knowledge to achieve financial security as adults.
  • Students are on the path to reaching their full personal potential.
  • Students become traditional and non-traditional leaders in Durham and other communities and are equipped to contribute to long term systemic change.

Our Core Values

Energize Your Community

I will energize my community.

It is not enough to simply be a great student or teacher. We expect all members of our community to take what is learned at Student U and use that knowledge to make a difference in the larger community. This means both serving others and inspiring peers to do the same.

Achieve GreatnessI will achieve greatness.

We have exceptionally high expectations for everyone at Student U. All members of the Student U community will strive to be excellent in all areas of life. Success can be defined differently for each individual. As long as progress is always being made towards clear, challenging goals, individuals are achieving greatness.

Respect Yourself and OthersI will respect myself and others.

The Student U community is comprised of unique individuals who come together to achieve a common goal. We value the background, skill set, and characteristics of each person. We understand that no person has reached his or her full potential. In order to respect all individuals, we must first respect ourselves by treating ourselves with love and kindness.

Discover Your Best SelfI will discover my best self.

We will constantly work to enhance our skills and discover our passions and strengths. We will take risks, challenge ourselves, and work to love ourselves for both who we are and for whom we can become.

Dream FearlesslyI will dream fearlessly.

As a member of the Student U community, we recognize the importance of having “I dreams” and “we dreams.” No societal boundaries will limit our personal goals and aspirations. No challenges will prevent us from envisioning a world more just than the present and from taking steps to make that world a reality.

Share Your BrillianceI will share my brilliance.

All individuals have skills to share with the community. It is our responsibility to fully spread our talents and gifts to those around us. Only when all individuals do so, can we solve the world’s most difficult challenges.

Ready to find out more?


“Student U’s history is my history. As a member of the original class of 2014, I remember stepping off the bus on the first day of Student U as one of fifty rising 6th graders with no idea what to expect. We talk often about Student U’s “creation” story. A group of fourteen individuals, representing all parts of the Durham community, came together to dream of a new way for students to learn. In 2007, I became one of those students. As Student U has grown up, I have grown up. I went from middle school student from 2007 to 2009, to middle school teacher in 2010 as I led a dance class for sixth graders. I went from Student U teacher to Student U leader in 2014, as I became the Internship Coordinator, overseeing all of the high school interns working at Student U. In 2018, the year I graduate from UNC-C, I will become a community leader, guiding my community and Student U to its envisioned future.”

– Angelica Cohen, UNC Charlotte Graduate