Partners for Youth and YO:Durham to Merge to Provide a Broader Range of Programs and Services to More Durham Youth


Partners for Youth and YO:Durham have Merged to Provide a Broader Range of Programs and Services to More Durham Youth

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DURHAM, NC – After nearly a year of discussions, Partners for Youth (PFY) and YO:Durham (a program of Durham Congregations in Action), have made the decision to merge. The two organizations that serve youth in Durham, NC expect to finalize a merger agreement during the second quarter of 2014.

Partners for Youth and YO:Durham complement each other in mission and operations. The proposed mission of the combined organization will be “(to) partner with the community to provide Durham youth with opportunities to connect, develop, and contribute through mentoring, employment and educational support.”

Currently, PFY strives to provide Southwest Central Durham teenage students with educational and professional enrichment opportunities and positive relationships that will enhance each student’s life skills and aspirations for the future. YO:Durham’s mission is to empower youth and prepare them for the 21st century workplace by providing teens with a year of opportunity to impact the course of their lives.

Zane Shelter, PFY Board Chair said, “The key benefit of the merger is to bring together two organizations to provide more opportunities for students and better outcomes for all stakeholders, while creating a more stable and resilient organization.”

PFY was originally founded by Duke University as part of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Initiative. Although today PFY is an independent nonprofit, Duke continues to support it in a variety of ways. “Duke has provided the funds for the merger assessment process. We affirm our commitment and ongoing support to both organizations” said Sam Miglarese, Director of Community Engagement, Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, Office of Durham Regional Affairs.

Dr. Ginger Brasher-Cunningham, Duke Congregations in Action (DCIA) President said, “This is a merger in spirit that formalizes a stronger partnership by blending the two organizations. The new Board (and supporting committees) will contain members from both organizations and the proposed new program will contain all of the important elements of both heritage organizations.”

YO:Durham is an initiative of DCIA, which has frequently served as an incubator for start-up nonprofit initiatives since 1969. YO:Durham was always intended to be spun off from DCIA. After seven years as a DCIA program, YO:Durham was poised to become a stand alone organization. It was at this point that merger talks began between PFY and YO:Durham. “We are excited at the possibility of bringing the two organizations together,” said Spencer Bradford, DCIA Executive Director.

Julie Wells, currently Executive Director of Partners for Youth, will become Executive Director of the new agency. “Julie truly has the ability to bring together and energize those around her. She sees the big picture,” said Lee Wollman, PFY Vice Chair.

Dr. Susan Blackmon, Program Director of YO:Durham plans to retire in on May 31, 2014. “The proposed merger gives me the opportunity to go on to the next chapter of my life without compromising the program I care so much about,” said Blackmon.

Once merged, the organization will operate under a new name. No job loss is expected due to the merger.


For more information contact:
Partners for Youth
Julie Wells, Executive Director, julie.wells@partnersforyouth.org , 919-536-4230


Susan Blackmon, Program Director, blackmonsusan@hotmail.com,



About Partners for Youth
Partners for Youth (PFY) is a year-round mentoring and summer job program for middle and high school students (ages 14 – 19 years) based in Southwest Central Durham. It was founded by Duke University as part of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership Initiative. In 2004, it became an independent nonprofit organization.

PFY works with Durham youth who come from low income and/or first generation immigrant families to build resiliency and non-cognitive skills that will propel them through high school, into college, and into careers that support their families, their communities and help to break the cycle of poverty.

Using a model, that includes mentoring and tutoring, PFY has had a significant impact on the students in their program:

  • 95% students promoted
  • 100% Freshman promoted
  • 60% High School students increased their GPA within the year
  • 89% of graduates attend post-secondary school.

About YO:Durham
YO:Durham (Year of Opportunity for Durham Teens) is an initiative of Durham Congregations in Action (DCIA). DCIA is an organization of spiritual communities committed to making Durham a community of justice and peace.  YO:Durham serves youth in Durham, NC. Participants are 15 – 17 years of age who are enrolled in a high school or GED program. This year-long program features a six-week Summer Career Academy, internships, mentoring, and volunteering for community projects. Their goals are to increase high school graduation, increase enrollment in post-secondary education, to increase workplace preparedness, and to decrease the number of students in the juvenile justice system.

Measured impact on the students in their program:

  • 100% enrolled in future-ready core classes
  • 100% are arrest free
  • 100% have completed service learning activities
  • 81% have greater than 90% attendance
  • 81% have worked in paid internships.


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