Our Approach

We empower and equip first-generation college students in Durham Public Schools, their families, and educators to become the leaders that will transform our city for the better. We support this transformation with an approach that combines three key elements: our whole-families approach to college access and success programming; sharing our best practices in education; and our commitment to supporting student- and family-led advocacy and change efforts in our city. 

Whole-Families Approach
We take a whole-families approach to college access and success programming, which means that we consider everything that affects a student’s ability to show up fully and reach their potential. We work directly with parents and guardians to help them support their children; our additional family-centered services include increasing housing stability, supporting access to living wage or better jobs for parents, and increasing parents’ post-secondary credentials. 

Sharing Our Best Practices
While we may not be able to serve every student in Durham directly, our ability to share what we’ve learned knows no bounds. We are constantly growing and evolving in our best practices working with first-generation college students, and we make sure those insights are accessible to Durham Public Schools, practitioners, and other key stakeholders. In addition, our teacher alumni are prepared and primed to take on leadership roles in our community. 

Student- and Family-Led Advocacy
We support student- and family-led advocacy and change efforts in our city. Building a more just and equitable Durham requires that the voices of students and their families are centered in important policy-making decisions; we support this with strategic partnerships that help parents and students develop the skills they need to shape their futures.

The Student Journey

Student Journey

Our Long-term Goals For Our Students


Academic Success
Student U believes it is necessary for our students to achieve educational success to thrive beyond school. Each program – middle school, high school, and College Promise – is composed of different, age-appropriate intervention. We have a full-time Learning Specialist who can provide targeted academic interventions and partners with families to support individual students and build the academic skills and confidence they need to be college-bound.

Financial Security
Student U believes that it is vital to students’ success beyond college that students have the knowledge to achieve financial security as adults. Students are exposed to career and professional opportunities that inform their academic and career aspirations. Student U is partnering with the Latino Community Credit Union (LCCU) to open College Savings Accounts for all of our middle school students.

Personal Well-Being
Student U recognizes the importance of the whole child; we know that while developing academic skills is important, our students' social, emotional, and physical well-being is just as crucial to their success. Student U provides students and families with access to a full-time Clinical Social Worker who works with students on social and emotional wellness.

Community Engagement
Student U believes that families are our most important partners in student success. We are intentional about partnering with our students’ parents and supporting our students’ families. We host regular parent workshops to engage families in learning from each other and community partners. We maintain constant communication with parents throughout the school year and we work with parents and students to empower them to be active and engaged members of their communities.

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