For almost a century, The W.G. Pearson Center has been a place for Durham youth to learn and thrive. In 2017, in partnership with the Durham Public Schools, Durham County, and Self-Help Credit Union, Student U became the master tenant of The Center and is now preparing to welcome partners into the newly renovated building.
William Gaston Pearson spent his lifetime advocating for the rights of African-American students and working to increase opportunities for those around him. The building named for him will continue to house his value of education, fierce belief in all students, and hope of a better Durham. Alone, we cannot adequately honor William Gaston Pearson and fulfill his vision for Durham. Today, we are honored to share with you our first cohort of partners. These organizations were selected not only because of the incredible work they have been doing in our community, but also because of the bold vision they have for young people and their families, The W.G. Pearson Center, and our Durham community. Together, we look forward to making our visions come to fruition.
As we build a new community, we also felt it important to mark this new beginning with a new logo to represent the independent identity we hope The Center develops over time. We centered the building and its date of construction because it was considered one of the most sophisticated exterior designs for any school building in Durham when built and to honor the long legacy and history we have inherited. The rays exemplify the vision we have for The W.G. Pearson Center to be a positive impact that radiates throughout our neighborhood and the Durham community.
Introducing the first cohort of partners:
The first is Village of Wisdom, led and founded by William Jackson. VOW describes itself as “a family-organizing and advocacy entity working to eliminate racial injustices in schools. To this end, we develop tools and resources that students, parents and teachers use to create learning environments for Black and Brown learners.” At Student U, we believe that structural racism is at the root of the barriers our students face to reaching educational success. We are excited to have VOW in our village with their passion for empowering families with tools to successfully advocate for their children in schools. In addition to this, we are energized by VOW’s vision for what is possible at The W.G. Pearson Center. In their application they wrote, “It is easy for us to envision working on Durham-specific collective impact efforts with partners at The Center, particularly around racial justice in Durham Public Schools. When we think about being in a building with Student U and other values-driven organizations in Durham, we think about an exchange of ideas and networks, and a culture of collaboration and constant growth.” We’re lucky to have them as partners.
The second is Book Harvest, led and founded by Ginger Young. Book Harvest believes that books are essential to children’s healthy development and well-being and that all children deserve to grow up in book-rich homes. To that end, they work to remove barriers to book ownership, to fuel a lifelong love of reading among America’s children that will enable success in school and in life. We were drawn to this line in their application, “Here is the vision we would hope to share with others at The Center: A Durham in which every resident is valued, respected, and civically involved. A Durham in which every parent has easy access to the essential tools, knowledge, and support to stimulate her child’s healthy development from birth and to steward her child through a successful childhood experience. A Durham devoted to two-generation support in which parents and children alike have easy access to the essential tools, knowledge, and support to realize whole family health and prosperity, including financial stability and stable housing. A Durham in which transformation is led by the community, in which decisions about the community are made with and by the community.” We are lucky to have them as partners.
The Third is Rebuild Fellowship, founded and led by Chuck Reed. Rebuild’s mission to advance the Kingdom of God by making disciples who receive, respond, and reproduce The Gospel of Jesus Christ, for the welfare of the city of Durham and surrounding communities. Of the organizations we have met, Rebuild has had the clearest vision for building community with neighbors and supporting the organizations housed in the building. In our meeting, Chuck shared a deep desire to make sure the neighbors felt welcomed and at home in the building by leading and hosting gatherings at The Center to build relationships with our direct community. We are lucky to have them as partners.