Student U exists because as a result of structural racism, poverty, and other systemic injustices, first-generation college-bound students face significant personal and institutional obstacles to educational success. This situation prevents our entire community from reaching its full potential.
The Problem Facing Durham
The Durham Public School System (DPS) is the eighth largest school district in North Carolina and serves 33,000 students. Overall, 65.52% of students in the DPS system received free or reduced lunch in the 2015-16 school year. Statistics demonstrate the great need for increased support for students in Durham Public Schools. Today, only 81% of students in Durham will graduate with their cohort and 82% of Durham Public Schools received an overall grade of a C, D, or F in the 2016-17 school year (NC Report Card 2016-17, NCDPI). This alone is disheartening, yet the data is even worse for the demographic of students at Student U. Economically disadvantaged students have a graduation rate of 75.8%, and Hispanic/Latino students have a 70.7% graduation rate (NC Report Card, NCDPI).
“We are destined to change the world. We, the Student U students, are becoming teachers, leaders, community activists, organizers, and most importantly, world-changers. We have so many fearless dreams that one day will impact society. Maybe in this community we have the doctor who finds a cure for cancer or perhaps the lawyer with the reputation of clearing the streets of all crime. Or maybe we have the next man or woman to invent the next big ‘must have’ in technology. And who knows, in this community we might have the next leader of our country. No matter what it is that we become, we are certain that each and every one of our names will be heard of in the future.”
– The Student U College Graduating Class of 2018