Working In Community Schools

Our Why

At Student U, we believe that every person is worthy of opportunities that allows for growth throughout their educational journey. Within an educational system that fails to allocate resources equitably, we see brilliant students and engaged families who know that they’re capable of incredible things—and we walk alongside them. 

Student U’s model grew out of responding to a request from Durham Public Schools and the needs of students and families. We are very excited to share new alignment with Student U and the Full Service Community Schools (FSCS) national movement. Full Service Community Schools are comprehensive centers that engage, educate, and serve, not only students, but all members of the community in which the school is located. 

Student U was named as the leader in the central region to contract with Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) to build community schools. To break the cycle of poverty and help shape a new future for our city and state, we’ll support Full Service Community Schools’ expansion in central North Carolina, including Durham. Our role involves sharing expertise to assist schools in launching their own programs, supporting the whole student and family for success.

Student U Full Service Community Schools Central Region

Community Schools Central Region

Our mission is to:

Empower and equip first-generation college students in Durham Public Schools, their families, and educators to become the leaders that will transform our city.

Our vision is:

We envision and work for a Durham where all students succeed.

Student U Community Schools Team Structure

Community Schools Team

Our goals are:

Implementation in Central Region

Ensure the full implementation of the community schools strategy at each partner school to be equipped with the structure, staff, and services required to implement the Community Schools 4 pillars framework.


Promote powerful learning and academic achievement.


Integrate effective health and social supports.


Support and promote authentic community and family engagement.


Foster collaborative leadership.

Community Schools 4 Pillars and Impact

Pillar 1: Integrated Student Support Services. More children are present in school and ready and able to learn effectively due to physical, mental, social, and emotional needs being met. Student U has integrated various student support services, such as healthcare, behavioral health, meal programming, and eye and dental services.

Pillar 2: Expanded and Enriched Learning Time and Opportunities. More students are achieving academically and successfully progressing to and through post-secondary education. Student U has effectively incorporated extended and enhanced learning opportunities by extending the school day and year, providing after-school and summer programs, and expanding the curriculum to include enrichment and community-based learning.

Pillar 3: Active Family and Community Engagement. Schools are viewed as the “hubs” of the community, with caregivers, students, and school staff all invested in the success of every student and the school. Student U has actively incorporated family and community involvement through various initiatives. These include informative parent workshops, staff allocation specifically for engaging and advocating for families, financial support programs, community resource events, and regular communication and conferences.

Pillar 4: Collaborative Leadership Practices. School staff feel empowered, energized, and valued, enhancing their teaching abilities and the general classroom environment. Student U has embraced collaborative leadership and practices by fostering shared goal-setting and decision-making among students, families, teachers, school staff, school/district administrators, and personnel from community-based partner organizations. This integration is facilitated through focus groups, training sessions, mentorships, and councils.



Student U is deeply grateful for the efforts of the DPS Foundation and the Bull City Community School Partnership in establishing and nurturing pilot programs at Fayetteville St. Elementary, Lakewood Elementary, and Club Blvd. Elementary Schools in Durham. We eagerly look forward to engaging with them, gaining knowledge, and collaborating to further expand the impact of Full Service Community Schools across Durham.

Student U Grounding Beliefs

  • We believe that all people are worthy of experiences and opportunities that honor the equal value of their lives and enable them to reach their full potential.

  • We believe that education needs to be transformed and has the power to be transformative.

  • We believe students, parents, and community members are the most critical assets for building a more just Durham.

  • We believe that building an equitable Durham is a shared responsibility and that our entire community must participate in this work.

  • We are committed to the never-ending work of using a racial equity lens in all of our work.

Student U Core Values

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.

I 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.

I 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.

I 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.

I 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.

I 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.

our community stories

The brilliance and successes of Student U’s community

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The Kendall Family

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Elijah & Ethan

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Elliot & Taryn


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