Durham Academy

Durham Academy has a long-standing commitment to community engagement and service. In 2015, DA outlined their dedication to this work by highlighting it as one of the three pillars of their Strategic Plan.

Durham Academy recognizes that striving alone does not lead to fulfillment. Our students also need authentic, meaningful connections – with each other and with those beyond our campus – to build happy, moral, productive lives. With this in mind, we seek to deepen relationships in communities both near (among peers, teachers and parents) and far (in Durham, the Triangle and the world).

Through this purposeful commitment, Durham Academy has developed a broad yet cohesive array of community partners. Click here to see short descriptions of the dozen strongest. Below are two conspicuous examples.


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 and high school. By providing direct services during out of school time in the summer and after-school, and advocating for students and families within schools, Student U ensures that students develop the academic skills and personal well-being needed to beat the statistics and succeed in college.

Durham Academy serves as the home for Student U’s Summer Academy. More than 150 Middle School students also meet from 3-6 PM every afternoon of the school year for homework coaching, targeted remediation, extracurricular clubs, and family activities.. Members of the DA community serve as teachers, mentors, board members and volunteers for Student U.

Student U welcomed its first class of 50 students and 16 teachers in the summer of 2007, as a result of a collaboration between Durham Public Schools, Durham Academy, UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. Central University and Duke University. In May 2014, 40 students from that inaugural class announced their intended college during Student U's first College Signing Day, to a Carolina Theater packed with supportive friends and family there to celebrate their success. 

Student U now walks with 450 students and their families on their journey to and through college. Eighteen full-time employees, 150 part-time employees, and dozens of community partners work with our students year round to combat the systems of racism and inequality that make our students journey through college more challenging than is fair.

The Student U model is successful because it harnesses students' power to change the world. The program inspires and empowers students of all ages by challenging them to use their passion to make a difference in their community. As a part of Student U, students and teachers of all ages develop a shared vision for a brighter future and gain the courage and skills necessary to make that vision a reality.

The Augustine Project
The Augustine Project is a Chapel Hill-based nonprofit founded in 1994. Its mission is to train and support volunteer tutors who provide free, long-term, one-on-one instruction in reading, writing and spelling to low-income children and teens who struggle with literacy skills. 

Every year, more than twenty DA seniors take a year-long full-credit elective that trains them to use the project's research-based, multisensory, phonetic literacy curriculum, based on the Orton Gillingham approach. After a month of preparation, each DA senior is paired with a child at a local public elementary school. To be eligible for tutoring, the child must qualify for free or reduced price lunch and perform below grade level in reading. Lessons last 45 minutes and take place three times a week from September through May. Students supplement their tutoring with readings and discussions about literacy, poverty, brain development, and related topics. Click here to read more about DA’s partnership with The Augustine Project, whose motto proves true each year: “Tutor one child. Change two lives.”

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