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How can you, your company drive social impact? Five steps to making a difference

ReCity Executive Director Rob Shields brings a decade of experience in nonprofit management and service, with a focus on youth development. After serving in nonprofit leadership for nearly five years, Shields joined the visioning team for ReCity Network in 2014, becoming the organization’s founding Executive Director. Observing deep divisions in Triangle communities along lines of race, class, and opportunity, he was motivated to create a network of nonprofits, mission-driven businesses, and faith-based organizations that could collaborate to address the most challenging issues facing our communities. By bringing together dozens of organizations since ReCity’s 2016 launch, he has helped build a social impact hub, responding to demand for a more expansive mission of shared space and shared impact for the hundreds of nonprofits that call Durham home. Shields is a native North Carolinian and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2007.

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We're Welcoming a New Intern!

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The ReCity team is excited to announce that we have a new intern, Kathryn Thacker!

Hi there! My name is Kathryn Thacker and I am thrilled to be joining the ReCity team as an intern for the summer. This May marked my graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Political Science and Global Studies, and I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to settle into ReCity during these first few months of post-grad transition. I am so excited to meet you all and learn from your meaningful work in Durham – please don’t hesitate to stop by and introduce yourself!

About me!

I was born and raised in Durham and lived in the same home in Northern Durham for my entire childhood! I went to Easley Elementary, Brogden Middle, and Riverside High before venturing over to Chapel Hill for college. In case you are wondering-- I grew up as a Duke fan and very slowly became a Tar Heel (I had a slight moral crisis in the process, but it seems to have worked itself out). In general, I have two speeds: 100 mph and asleep. In my spare time, I love to hike, read, swing in hammocks, watch movies (let’s hear it for the Marvel Universe!), drink coffee, play pick-up soccer, and ask to pet strangers’ dogs. As I fall into a routine post-graduation, I plan to spend time learning more delicious (and easy) recipes, reading for fun, and planting my own herb garden. Lastly, in honor of being fully transparent, my current guilty pleasure is watching The Bachelorette with my girlfriends. If you have a dog, fun recipes, book recommendations, coffee shop suggestions, or tips for planting on a budget, let’s chat!

Why Durham and why ReCity?

In my classrooms, I learned about the systems that marginalize, oppress, and disempower so many people groups. I was exposed to the disparate mortality, disease, poverty, homelessness, food insecurity, and incarceration statistics of minority, immigrant, and LGBTQIA+ populations. All of this deeply impacted me, but remained at a comfortable distance. I spent the summer after my junior year interning with DurhamCares, a ReCity partner, and the deep reality of these injustices came to life in front of me. I was able to listen and learn from the people who have lived this reality for much of their lives. While these stories are often saturated with pain, dehumanization, and inequality, I have seen Durham’s people still choose to be creative, passionate, brave and neighborly. I have a connection to this city because of the people’s resiliency and simple desire to live and live well with each other. My hope for my three months at ReCity is that I honor Durham’s resiliency by serving each of you, your organizations, and your clients as we all pursue a more just, equitable, and loving Durham together.

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How can you, your company drive social impact? Five steps to making a difference

WRAL TechWire Live ... Jes Averhart, Geraud Staton, Maggie Kane and Rob Shields.

WRAL TechWire Live ... Jes Averhart, Geraud Staton, Maggie Kane and Rob Shields.

 
 

by Rob Shields, Executive Director of ReCity Network, — May 28, 2019 .

Editor’s note: WRAL TechWire Live! hosted a discussion last week that centered on social impact, and how Triangle nonprofits are working like startups to devise innovative solutions to problems facing our region and neighbors. We are reprinting the talks delivered by two of the keynotes. The first is from Rob Shields, who serves as the Executive Director of ReCity Network, the Triangle’s hub for social impact. Based in downtown Durham, ReCity is home to a rapidly growing network of over 40 organizations, all committed to pursuing a shared vision of building thriving communities that are rooted in justice. His presentation follows:

“On June 10, 1946 Jack Johnson, the first black heavyweight champion of the world, was refused service at a diner in Franklinton, NC. As he left the diner he lost control of his car and crashed causing life threatening injuries. He was brought to St. Agnes Hospital in Raleigh as it was the closest hospital that would serve blacks in the vicinity. It was here that he died from his injuries at 68 years of age. The technology existed to save his life, however it wasn’t available at St. Agnes. It was available at the whites-only Rex Hospital just a few miles away.”

I feel connected to Jack Johnson’s story, b/c 70 years later my wife and I moved into a home just down the street from St. Agnes, starting me on a journey to learn the untold stories of our community. This story also hits home for me, because as a Raleigh native, I was born at Rex Hospital, so learning this story connects me to the disconcerting truth that the doors of opportunity that have always been opened to me–down to the doors of the hospital that welcomed me into this world–have literally been shut in the face of others.

Today we’re here to talk about social impact. But the reality is, you can’t talk about impact without talking about injustice. Because the truth is, social impact work exists in our communities largely because justice does not.

A working definition for justice is “to give people their due”. One side of that is negative – when people do something wrong, they need to be stopped. The other side is positive – to lift up and care for those who have been marginalized. Justice is both retributive and restorative. It is also both individual and social.

So how just is our region? Bryan Stevenson, Founder of the Equal Justice Initiative is quoted as saying “the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

At ReCity, our mission centers around building more just communities. During my time in this work, I’ve seen 3 problems that consistently stand in the way of justice in our communities:

  1. The problem of Proximity

  2. The problem of power

  3. and the problem of partnership

  • Proximity problem: We’re disconnected from the need

Many of us can go throughout our days completely removed from poverty & injustice. I experienced this first hand living in Southeast Raleigh. We’ve literally built roads to enable us to drive around certain sections of town instead of through them.

Stevenson goes on to say how “we must get “proximate” to suffering and understand the nuanced experiences of those who suffer from and experience inequality. You can’t understand most of the important things from a distance. You have to get close”

Otherwise, we draw conclusions about communities where we’ve never been present and people whose stories we don’t know.

  • Power problem: We’re disconnected from our own stories

Creating more diverse tables is a great place to start. But we also have to ask, who owns the table? Because the owner of the table chooses who gets a invitation.

OWNERSHIP MATTERS.

So, let me ask us this morning, who owns social impact?

A few statistics to help paint a picture:

A 2014 study showed that nearly 70 percent of nonprofits state diversity as a core value, and over 60 percent of nonprofits offer services that impact people of color almost exclusively. And yet, only 7 percent of nonprofit executives, 18 percent of nonprofit employees, and 8 percent of nonprofit board members are people of color.

Perhaps most telling of all, foundation funding has never exceeded 8% for organizations led by people of color.

The point here is not to make people feel bad for the power they have. Power is just a charged word we use for the ability to make something of this world. Sadly, that power is often abused. But the point here is not to say, ‘People with power are evil.’ The point is to say, ‘If you’ve been given power or privilege, you have a responsibility to multiply it, to share it, to do everything in your power to give it away.

Because the reality is that the people closest to the problem are closest to the solutions, but farthest from resources and power. If we are to build a more just region, this has to change.

We must amplify voices that have been historically marginalized, because just communities are ones where everyone is empowered to pick up a pen, because everyone gets to co-author part of their own story.

  • Partnership problem: We’re disconnected from each other

Many are proximate to the need, but often justice efforts remain fragmented and siloed, diluting our impact.  

Durham has 4700 nonprofits, 5x national average, “Yet 1 in 4 residents is still in poverty, too many of them people of color. Why? It’s not because these nonprofits are doing shoddy work. Many are doing INCREDIBLE work. But they often come to their own limits and have a hard time knowing who else might be able to step in and help.”

You see, a community is at its best when each of us is empowered to cook our signature dish and serve it to our neighbors so we all can flourish. We don’t just need more people at the table. We need people to know there’s a table to begin with. We need to lock arms and do this together. 4,700 nonprofits, working together, won’t just accomplish what 4,700 nonprofits can do, they will MULTIPLY their effectiveness. I know it’s possible. I’ve see it happen everyday at ReCity.

HOW DO WE MOVE FORWARD?

Connect to the need, to each other, and to your story and the story of your community?

Ask yourself a few questions…

  1. How homogeneous is my network, my community? (Who are the last 10 ppl you texted? Who are the last 10 ppl you had at your kitchen table? Do they all look like you?)

Get Proximate: audit your networks and diversify them

You can start small. Read a book on a topic you care about written by a person of color. Be a regular at a restaurant or gym where you are the minority.

  1. Am I willing to lean in and listen?

Listen. Our communities need more people humble enough to be quick to listen and slow to speak.

  1. What’s my social mobility story?

Learn Your Story & the story of your community: Become a student of your story and your community’s story. There are so many lessons waiting for you.

  1. What’s already working in my community, how can I support it?

Partner whenever possible.

  1. If I have power, where can I give it away so others can flourish?

Empower those closest to the problem.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”

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WRAL TechWire Live places lens on social impact at sold-out event

 
 
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A Place at the Table’s Maggie Kane, The Helius Foundation’s Geraud Staton and ReCity’s Rob Shields will be the featured speakers at the next WRAL TechWire Live event on May 21 from 7:30-10:00 a.m. Leadership Triangle’s Jesica Averhart will moderate a panel discussion.

The event is sold out.

The free event, hosted at WRAL and presented by Wells Fargo, will focus on defining social impact and why such work is necessary. Learn how Triangle nonprofits are working like startups to devise innovative solutions to many of the problems facing our region and neighbors, and see how startups and businesses of all shapes and sizes can learn to work more like these nonprofits.

Attendees will access resources that can help them plug-in where they best fit and either continue or begin a meaningful journey of engaging “the other” and building communities where all can thrive.

More on our speakers & moderator

Maggie Kane is the founder and executive director of A Place at the Table, the first pay-what-you-can cafe in downtown Raleigh. She graduated from North Carolina State University in 2013 and began working for a nonprofit with people experiencing homelessness. By befriending many people living on the margins, she knew something needed to be done. Kane has a heart to serve, a desire to always be inclusive, and a passion for loving people. Through her work with people on the streets, she realized the power of community, the importance of dignity, and the beauty in bringing people together over incredible food. In February 2015, A Place at the Table was birthed, and she never looked back. A Place at the Table opened in January 2018 serving thousands of people in Raleigh with a dignified, healthy, and affordable meal; however, more importantly, a meal that feeds more than just the stomach–it feeds your hearts, souls, and minds. Outside of the cafe, you will catch her running marathons and eating peanut butter.

Geraud Staton is the executive director for The Helius Foundation, a Durham-based entrepreneurial consulting company specializing in small businesses and Necessity-Driven Entrepreneurs (NDEs). NDEs are individuals who are unable to find traditional, living-wage employment, including long-time veterans, single parents, people with criminal records or individuals from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Helius has created a means to arm and protect NDEs and provide all of the services that small business owners need to create sustainable businesses. Staton believes wholeheartedly in the mission of the organization and seeks to improve women and minority-owned businesses.

ReCity Executive Director Rob Shields brings a decade of experience in nonprofit management and service, with a focus on youth development. After serving in nonprofit leadership for nearly five years, Shields joined the visioning team for ReCity Network in 2014, becoming the organization’s founding Executive Director. Observing deep divisions in Triangle communities along lines of race, class, and opportunity, he was motivated to create a network of nonprofits, mission-driven businesses, and faith-based organizations that could collaborate to address the most challenging issues facing our communities. By bringing together dozens of organizations since ReCity’s 2016 launch, he has helped build a social impact hub, responding to demand for a more expansive mission of shared space and shared impact for the hundreds of nonprofits that call Durham home. Shields is a native North Carolinian and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UNC Chapel Hill in 2007.

Jesica Averhart is the Executive Director of Leadership Triangle, a non-profit established to educate and develop regional leaders. Prior to Leadership Triangle, Averhart served as the Director of Corporate Partnerships for Capitol Broadcasting. She’s managed the partnership relationships for Google, Google Fiber, Wells Fargo, Fidelity Labs, Lincoln Financial, Audi, Lenovo, Duke I&E, CFCU, RTP, BCBSNC and others.

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Tech on Tap: Tech on Change

The Premise:
The topics of social change and technology seem disparate and disjointed. However, regions across the country like the Triangle are seeming to benefit from an innovation economy that is growing at an exponential rate. The collateral damage is the many disenfranchised individuals throughout our region. Their chances of benefitting from that growth is very much a pipe dream. We focus our attention on social mobility, a term that simply highlights the likelihood that someone who is born into one economic demographic will move upward into another. The southeast of the United States and more specifically North Carolina is amongst the worst states in the country for the people having the ability to break the cycle of generational poverty. In short, whatever economic situation you are born into in North Carolina, there is a high likelihood that you will die in that same economic situation.

The Guests
Kia Baker:
Kia Baker is the Founding Executive Director of Southeast Raleigh Promise, a community quarterback organization overseeing the revitalization of the southeast Raleigh area of our region. Southeast Raleigh Promise is the 16th Purpose Built Community in the US and seeks to affect change with a multilayered approach to community development. Using the tenants of a defined neighborhood, community quarterbacking, mixed-income housing, cradle to career education, and community wellness. SER Promise engages the community by providing a holistic approach to change. Baker talks about how to overcome the issues with our failing educational infrastructure, giving people tools for success and how to get hyperfocused in problem-solving.

Find out more about what SER Promise is doing and the new elementary school they are building in partnership with the YMCA in downtown Raleigh.

Rob Shields:
Rob Shields is the Executive Director of the Recity Network, a coworking space for collaboration and operation for non-profits in the Durham, NC region. As an advocate for his community and the organizations holding up the city of Durham, Shields is always seeking to make connections that uplift the larget community while teaching others what it means to enlarge your circle. Shields sheds light on the disconnect between the growing number of nonprofits in the Durham region while the effectiveness of those organizations becomes more surface level and ineffective. He also sheds light on how we can all use our privilege to help a system, not built for some, succeed for all.

Engage with Recity and follow them online to see how to get engaged with the solution.

Syretta Hill:
Syretta Hill is the Executive Director of Step Up Durham. Step Up Durham is a 501 c3 organization that works to provide job training and job placement to the most disenfranchised and the those most in need of a second chance. Working with a team of community organizers and engagers, Syretta focuses her attention on how to uplift a community by seeing the best in each individual and helping the individual to see the best in themselves. Hill details what specific systems are in place that keep people relegated to their economic station and goes further to talk about how to engage with communities from the standpoint of humility and a listening ear.

Find out more about how you can help the mission of Step Up Durham and look out for their many events throughout the year.

Our Sponsor:
Johnson Automotive Group is a WRAL TechWire partner and the presenting sponsor of Tech on Tap.

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ReCity Network: Seeking Shared Success, Impact

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Together means everyone

You may have seen these words on our website, front and center, or on any number of collateral materials here at ReCity Network: “Rewriting the story of our city together.” While many may zoom in on the front end of that sentence, a metaphor for the efforts of our non-profits, mission-driven companies, and faith-based organizations to reshape the success dynamic of Durham by attacking and eliminating individual and systemic problems, I like to focus on the last part.

Together.

Just because you have a dream doesn’t mean it’ll come true. Very few of us truly live a dream, and for many, such as the clients of our network members, reality is harsh. When the visioning team for what became ReCity gathered nearly four years ago, we wanted to bring opportunity to every corner of Durham, and we knew that there would be a lot of hard work along the way—never-ending work, in some cases.

To accomplish every challenge laid before us, the founding group behind ReCity realized that we would need to pull together an unprecedented coalition of people united by their abilities to understand the issues facing Durham. This coalition must be defined by both sympathy and empathy for the historic contributing factors to inequitable distribution of wealth as well as the current and evolving problems faced by demoralized and downtrodden groups, starting with youth disengagement.

Our coalition – the network itself – must look like Durham, feel like Durham and experience life like Durham. If you look at Durham itself, it’s a socio-economic and racial/ethnic mosaic of humanity. It’s a city of incredible opportunity, home to economic drivers like Duke University and its health system, thriving life sciences and technology sectors, and a near-peerless climate for entrepreneurs. It’s also home to immense, multi-generational poverty.

Non-Hispanic whites, while financially dominant, make up around 37 percent of the population, second to a black plurality of nearly 41 percent. These two largest groups are complemented by a fast-growing Hispanic/Latino population of nearly 15 percent, as well as a small Asian community. When we looked at these demographics, we realized that in order to release the full economic and social potential of this wonderful city, everyone would need to be involved in a big way – black, white, and brown.

And despite the efforts of local business incubators like our friends at American Underground, we also know that men disproportionately benefit from the wealth afforded by thriving sectors in the Bull City. Our visioning team also figured out very quickly that in order to maximize and optimize opportunities for shared success, we would need leadership from men and women alike.

Together.

We launched ReCity last September, largely on the strength of an affluent, majority-white donor base that was eager to open a new avenue for sharing success with all. In a few short months, our network has emerged truly representative of the socio-economic, racial/ethnic, and gender spectrum of our city.

Nine months in, we have amassed nearly four dozen partner organizations. That number alone would be cause for celebration among many when launching a new venture. But we have a more difficult measure of success at ReCity. Without the right partners across the entire spectrum of what makes Durham the city it is, we won’t have the impact we set out to achieve.

So, are we building this network in the right ways? To date, over 60 percent of the member organizations of ReCity Network are women and minority-led, making us a true “by the people, for the people” organization. While societal constructs like privilege certainly aren’t shed when people enter these doors, a renewed sense of hope, optimism, and opportunity for all certainly do beckon those who want to be a part of our mission.

Shared success, shared impact. Together.

We all know that it’s easier to build the organization you want when you start off with the end in mind. People tell me that they get a special feeling when they walk through our building. I think I know why – you can’t help but feel a little better about this world when you see people literally sitting down to have dialogue, collaborate, and work to end poverty and all of its problematic permutations.

Discover ReCity for yourself. Let’s turn those harsh realities for some into that shared dream for all. Together.

Rob Shields is the founding executive director of ReCity Network. Launched in September 2016, ReCity is a social impact hub that promotes collaboration among non-profits and social entrepreneurism.

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Accelerating Shared Prosperity in Durham & Beyond

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At ReCity, we have committed ourselves to telling the story of Durham. We believe it is an essential part of our vision of building thriving communities, rooted in justice. Part of telling that story involves taking a realistic look at the history of our city and looking at whose voices have been systematically left out. Earlier this month, we hosted Accelerating Shared Prosperity, a ReCity Roundtable event with five speakers instead of one. Over the course of the night, speakers included Keith Daniel and Thomas Droege (Resilient Ventures), Geraud Staton (Helius Foundation), and Felipe Witchger and Merald Holloway (Community Purchasing Alliance).


Overall, the gathering was a space for people to reflect and dream about the future of entrepreneurship, ownership, and opportunity. We had a great time at Q&A session at the end of the night. While we didn’t get to address all the questions, this is our treat to you! Our presenters responded to the unanswered questions we received throughout the night. We hope these responses will inspire you to continue this discussion in your communities.


In case you missed the Roundtable, please check out our website for the ReCity Roundtable Video Archive Library.



Question for CPA: Is there an opportunity to counsel the vendors you work with on how to form their own cooperative model to distribute wealth to employees?- Katherine


Merald (CPA): The short answer is yes!!  

The long and winding answer:  CPA provides a free cooperative tool kit for folks interested in our particular model for working better together, but we are not the best resource at this time for worker cooperatives. However, we are connected to partners here locally that are interested in helping established organizations think about wealth building for their employees. Durham City Government and the Small Business Development office at NC Central are recipients of a fellowship, working with other local experts with a track record of engaging employees at all levels for business success through open-book management, employee ownership, and educating retiring business owners and their advisors about the possibility of employee ownership as an exit strategy.

What exactly did Geraud mean by "learned helplessness", how does it tie to housing inequity, and what role does systemic racism play when it comes to housing?


Geraud: Learned helplessness, as the experiment by Martin Seligman confirms, is when we are conditioned to take suffering. As the animals in the example don’t leave their space when shocked, so to do human who have gone through terrible things create a coping mechanism to deal with that. We can say to ourselves that the situation isn’t so bad. We say, “we’ve dealt with it this long, why stop now?” We may even believe we are stronger because we can take the shock. To the extreme, this causes people in negative living situations to stop looking for a way out. And, they don’t take options that are laid before them, either. Much like the animals in the experiment.


Racism plays a large part of this because for a long time, African Americans and other minorities were in a place where we couldn’t attain wealth. We couldn’t be educated at the same level as whites. We were blocked from owning property, or from voting, or from prospering. And, one day, like the animals in the experiment, many people were conditioned to stop seeing their situation as malleable. “We’ve dealt with it this long, why stop now?” We even see ourselves stronger because of it. We stop looking for a way out.We stop attempting to buy property, or so many other “ways out.”

Is there a resource you know of in Durham that lists black/minority-owned businesses for businesses looking for vendors?

Merald (CPA): Certainly. There are several resources for lists of minority-owned vendors in Durham, (links included) like the Greater Durham Black Chamber of Commerce, The City of Durham website, The Durham County MWBE program website.  The state HUB office has lists of certified women and minority-owned service providers you can search pretty easily as well.

We could detail in about a dozen more pages our experience and aspirations in this arena but hope this gives some insight into some of the ways we are thinking about our role as responsible and ethical corporate citizens of our various communities. There are big plans this year for CPA to use some of our staff expertise in creating internal diversity profiles and initiating successful supplier diversity programs for large and small organizations.  We help organizations at a relatively low cost to discover where they are in minority business patronage and adjust/suggest something as simple as a couple procurement procedures to create some real impact and help match the organizational desires you promote match your actual practices. We can refer larger organizations to consultants across the state that have helped entities like RDU, Wake County Schools, Self-Help Credit Union, and Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Schools create successful long-running programs. I would personally love to help anyone who decides this is a worthy investment of your resources and/or time.

If you or your organization are interested in getting some additional insight into helping your organization identify ways you can participate in supporting minority and local business enterprises, let us know by contacting us at info@cpa.coop.


For Geraud: I’m about to embark on a mentoring relationship to an under-served high school student in chapel hill. Please share two pieces of advice.

Geraud: Listen first. We often want to jump in and solve the problem our mentees have. And they may even listen, but there will be one of two prices to pay for that. One is that they listen for a while, but like cutting open a cocoon before the butterfly is ready, the lesson won’t stick and the mentee will fall right back into bad habits. The second is that they listen and keep listening, but they stop being able to make decisions on their own. They can become dependent on your advice. So, listen and find out what they REALLY need.

Second, ask questions that LEAD them to an answer. Make them think. I’m not saying to lead them to THE answer, but to AN answer. Ask them questions that make them push their knowledge, or think ahead. Help them to see all the sides of an issue, particularly if they haven’t thought about it. When we know what the real problem is, sometimes solutions are easy to find. The issue is often that people are trying to solve a surface problem, but what they really need solved is much deeper.


What difference does a mentor really make?

Geraud: A mentor should make a HUGE difference. A mentor helps you answer questions that you didn’t see, or help you get to the real problem, without being totally invested in your issues. It’s the same reason attorney’s shouldn’t represent themselves in court. Why many tax preparers have someone else do their taxes. When you are involved, you tend to get caught up in the small details and the emotion of it. A good mentor can help you focus, hold you accountable, but even better, they can help spot some of the glaring (or not so glaring) errors in judgement that you’re making.

And don’t just rely on one! I have multiple mentors for multiple areas of my life! But even then, do not pit them against one another. Let mentors know you have others, and what advice you got. Having your own team of mentors who are all involved can be magical!

How important is mentoring for entrepreneurs? Who have been your best mentors and what did you learn from them? How do you find good mentors?

Resilient Ventures: All entrepreneurs need mentoring.  Mentoring is just a part of it though.  It is also access to networks and opportunities.  So introductions and support businesses are very important. It is more than putting money into a company, but providing support to get them to their next milestone.


Excited about all these new resources for minority entrepreneurs in Durham. What is the best place/person/organization for interested entrepreneurs to start?


Resilient Ventures: Resilient Ventures is working on a road map with others.

CPA: Greater Durham Black Chamber of Commerce, LaShon Harley Director, Small Business Center at Durham Technical Community College, La-Tasha Best-Gaddy University Program Director for Small Business and Technology  Development Center (SBTDC)

Resilient Ventures, have you found that your LPs fit a particular profile/share character traits that align them as investors? Or, are motives purely driven by money?

Resilient Ventures: It is too early to tell.  But stereotypes put our entrepreneurs in the “not ready” status. That is not true, we are providing access to entrepreneurs that are “ready”.  We also fight against the stereotype that because we are involved in African-American entrepreneurship, then somehow we must also be doing charity, and/or we should be set up as a 501c, etc… So we are not that either.   Investors without a racial equity lens will sometimes see diversity as a strength -- a la McKinsey report results. In general we are seeing that those most likely to invest see that because of systemic forces, we do not see good opportunities when presented, and so a fund like this will find undervalued opportunities which should give the same kind of financial returns.  However, I have not seen an investor that is purely opportunistic, if they are, they would go to another fund without our thesis. Our pitch deck has a good measure of racial equity content.

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Meet the New ReCity Intern

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About Kaity

Hi everyone! My name is Kaity Braxton and I am the new face around here. I will be interning with ReCity through the end of April 2019 and I couldn’t be more excited for what’s in store for my time here!

I am a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, finishing up my major in Human Development and Family Studies. I completed my first year of college right after high school at UNCG. With no idea what path I wanted to take career-wise, I took two years off of college and worked at a bank. I went back to school in 2016 at Durham Technical Community College, then transferred to my dream school in the Fall of 2017. Go Heels! This journey really solidified my belief that everything happens for a reason, and that there are so many different paths to success.

I am a North Carolina native, born and raised in the mountains just north of Asheville. I loved growing up in WNC, but have had the best time making the Piedmont my home for the past four years. I currently live in Carrboro with my husband, Austin, and our pets. Together we have two sweet kitties, Cooper & Ellie, and one awesome little beagle pup named Ben. I adore my fur babies! Besides my home and family, some of my favorite things are hot bubble baths, watching The Office on repeat, Chick-Fil-A, game nights, Disney World, creativity, and anything that makes me feel nostalgic. 

Why ReCity?

I heard about ReCity from my professor who recommended that I look into an internship here. As soon as I read over the website and read the mission, I was excited to learn more and possibly be a part of this unique organization. When I saw that my church, The Summit, was a partner of ReCity, I was sure this would be a good place for me. Rob and Zenzele only further confirmed those feelings though my conversations with them in the days and weeks that followed. 

I deeply believe in the mission of ReCity; it is central to my own personal faith. Equity and justice are important to me, and systemic change of structures that either deliberately or inadvertently disadvantage some groups more than others is crucial to create a world where everyone can succeed, not just certain people. Too often the people that succeed look one way, and the people that struggle look another. One thing I love about ReCity is that they recognize that treating symptoms of these deep-seated problems doesn’t lead to ultimate healing; they are interested in treating the root cause of the problem. I am humbled and honored to be chosen to be a part of such a wonderful community and look forward to a semester of fun and growth here at ReCity.

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A Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes: DurhamCares

As we know, the holidays are not all about presents and drinking hot chocolate by the fire. The greater meaning of the holidays involved self-reflection. We all exist together in communities together. What does it mean to take a wholistic look of our communities and examine the hardships and triumphs? What, if anything, do we owe to our communities in terms of promoting equity? These questions are relevant all year round but seem to be of heightened importance around the holidays. When children are taught empathy, they learn the phrase “take a walk in someone else’s’ shoes”. DurhamCares deeply believes in promoting empathy in Durham and takes this saying literally through their Durham Pilgrimage of Pain & Hope program.

The mission of DurhamCares is to foster collaboration, develop leaders, and educate the people of our city to care for their neighbors in holistic ways. This is accomplished through community mobilization, resource development, and through programs like the Durham Pilgrimage. The Durham Pilgrimage of Pain and Hope is an opportunity to discover how your spiritual journey is connected to our shared community, Durham. Through the pilgrimage participants immerse themselves in the story of the city and the Biblical story as they reflect with others on what it means for how they live their lives in Durham.

 

What is DurhamCares’ Vision for Durham?

We envision a city where all residents love their neighbors. But we don't just mean smiling and being cordial. Our vision is for a city where love goes deeper. We want to see Durham residents learn the story of their city - all the people and the places that have brought us to where we are. We want the people of Durham to know the struggles that Durham has gone through and the ways people have overcome those challenges. We want to see love that is both personal and public. We want everyone to see that their flourishing is bound up in the flourishing of those around them.

The ReCity Social Impact Holiday Giving Guide is proud to support Durham Cares. Please consider giving to this incredible organization through RoundUp. For more information on how to get involved, visit our website to sign up.

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Putting the "HEART" in Partnership

There is something so joyful and pure about experiencing the holidays through the eyes of a child. Christmas trees aren’t just big, they are enormous and grand. Special holiday baked goods are sweeter and more satisfying. There’s also the absolute torture of counting down the hours until it’s time to unwrap presents. No matter the traditions, there is an emphasis on families making the holidays special for children. Nurturing a child’s curiosity and helping them grow takes more than one family- it takes a village.

H.E.A.R.T.S, Helping Each Adolescent Reach Their Spark, fully embraces this mentality. Their goal is to educate and equip adolescent parents with the tools needed to become independent and self-sufficient. This is achieved by providing resources and services to help adolescent parents achieve their best life. The keys to success are self-development, education, family development, and financial awareness.

 This model not only provides holistic support to teen parents, it keeps them on track to reach their goals. In fact, H.E.A.R.T.S has achieved a 100% graduation rate for participants for six consecutive years. Through providing support and resources H.E.A.R.T.S is helping more families preserve the magic of the holidays.

 

What is H.E.A.R.T.S’ Vision for Durham?

H.E.A.R.T.S’ vision for Durham to be united as one force that transitions our morals and values to the next generation.

 

The ReCity Social Impact Holiday Giving Guide is proud to support H.E.A.R.T.S. Please consider giving to this incredible organization through RoundUp. For more information on how to get involved, visit our website to sign up.

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Announcing the 2019 Unity Fellows!

The Unity Fellowship will begin training its second cohort of Triangle nonprofit Executive Directors and social impact professionals starting this January, preceded by an announcement of the cohort’s participants on December 15th. ReCity held a Kickoff Breakfast to introduce Cohort 2 this week.

The Unity Fellowship is a capacity building and strategic leadership development program for nonprofit leaders designed to address the over-saturation and underdevelopment of the Durham non-profit community. The goal of the Unity Fellowship is to train nonprofit leaders in key organizational practices that promote long term organizational stability, while elevating key leadership skills that are specifically calibrated to Durham’s local context. Unity Fellows receive training in the following areas:

●      Organizational Identity Development

●      Financial and Other Systems Administration

●      Strategic Planning

●      Long Range Fundraising

●      Annual Operational Planning

●      Board Development

●      Staff Development and Organizational Culture

●      Leadership

●      Equity

The Unity Fellows program is the brainchild of Julie Wells, who has been a social impact leader in the Triangle for 25 years. Wells currently serves as the Executive Director of Partners for Youth Opportunity in Durham. She knows from experience what it’s like to feel overwhelmed while leading a nonprofit. “When you work particularly in a small nonprofit, you feel like you are in survival mode,” she explained. “You can’t look forward because you’re constantly looking up; you’re trying to hold your head above water.”

Wells’ interactions with other nonprofit leaders with similar experiences inspired her to create the Unity Fellowship in 2017 with the encouragement of her mentor, the late Phail Wynn, of Duke University’s Office of Durham and Regional Affairs. According to Wells, “the Unity Fellowship is an opportunity for nonprofit leaders to focus on their own leadership as well as the organizational stability of the nonprofits they oversee.”

The Unity Fellowship graduated the first cohort of nonprofit professionals in December 2017, and they have great things to say about the program. “Every day, I put out fires and solve problems,” says 2017 graduate and Executive Director of the Helius Foundation, Geraud Staton. “This fellowship let me look at the landscape as opposed to only being in the middle of the chaos. I can now see how to avoid the crisis or at least move through it more efficiently.” Staton’s classmate, Reynolds Chapman, Executive Director of Durham Cares, agrees. “I really believe any non-profit leader could get something from this opportunity. A lot of times executive directors can find themselves in isolation and yes, you get a lot of skills from the experience, but the relationships that you build and what you learn from other leaders is invaluable.”

Want to read more about the program? Visit our Unity Fellows page for cohort bios and more information.

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Drive to Thrive

It’s been a whirlwind of new engagement and energy the past few months at ReCity Network. Most exciting of all was the Drive to Thrive Banquet, where social impact leaders and idealists from around the community gathered at ReCity for an evening of storytelling and connection.

In total, over 150 people were welcomed into the building. Attendees represented folks from varying sectors (non-profit, businesses, faith-based organizations) and provided a space to reflect on what social impact in Durham is all about. The evening started with happy hour and transitioned into lively table discussions over dinner. The meal was prepared by Zweli’s, who has been in partnership with ReCity since our 2014 launch.

As the evening unfolded, one highlight was the premiere of a short film about the H.E.A.R.T.S program, created by our partners at IronWorx Media. It highlighted the passion Executive Director Tameka Brown, has for the community and her efforts to provide a safe space and resources to teen parents. Following the film, keynote speaker Dr. Dorian Burton of the Kenan Charitable Trust spoke on community building through meaningful relationships that create empathy. Overall, the evening was a celebration, not solely of ReCity, but of the vision of building a more just Durham, together.


See more highlight pictures from Drive to Thrive below!

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Bridging Divide. ReCity. Durham, North Carolina

 
 

Episode Info

How can America recover from hatred, distrust and resentment that have lead to deep divisions, the fraying of our civic institutions and even violence, such as the recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting?

This episode, recorded at ReCity in Durham, North Carolina, is the third in our renewing democracy podcasts, where we report on collaborative efforts to promote respect and bridge divides.

The idea behind this series is that if we’re going to pull back from the political precipice, it’s going to come first locally, not nationally. We’ve seen what hate and fear and can do, perhaps it’s time to try love, or at least tolerance. 

ReCity is a shared office space-- similar to a We Works for dozens of local social action non-profits and companies-- where organizations are housed in an open-plan office under one roof. We look at how their hard work can bring people together and lead to social change. 

"I believe there is hope for our communities, but when you turn on the news right now, you don't find that," says ReCity's Executive Director, Rob Shields. "This is an opportunity to show that hope and unity are possible in a community, and I think right now that's not a message that we are hearing from a lot of the channels we absorb information through."

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We Believe in Durham

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New Kids on the Block!

Tayler (left) & Kendall (right)

Tayler (left) & Kendall (right)

ReCity is delighted to have two amazing interns join our team this fall, Kendall Bradley & Tayler Miller! This semester, Kendall and Tayler have contributed to two ReCity events, helped support facility and operational upgrades, and built relationships with our community partners. As a community, we are looking forward to their efforts and growth. In their own words, here’s a little bit about them.

Meet Kendall

My name is Kendall Bradley and I will be interning with ReCity through December 2018. I am a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a double major in Human Development & Family Studies and Community & Nonprofit Leadership.

At Carolina, I am involved with a campus ministry called Cru as a Bible study leader and intern, and I am a member of UNC’s chapter of International Justice Mission. I also give campus tours to prospective students and their families, and I work for Carolina Housing as an Office Assistant. I’m excited to be starting work as a substitute teacher for Chapel Hill and Carrboro City Schools in the coming weeks as well!

I am a proud Midwesterner, born and raised just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I promise I will be thrilled to hear about any connection whatsoever that you have to the Land of 10,000 Lakes! Some of my favorite things besides my home include camp, chocolate, Carolina basketball, board games, plants, Chick-fil-a sauce, road trips, and good conversation.

Why ReCity?

I heard about ReCity through my friend Brittany who interned here last spring. I was immediately intrigued by ReCity’s quest to maximize impact by supporting community leaders and organizations in the work they are already doing. In addition to my passions for justice, education, and collaboration, I believe deeply that the things people already have in their hands are of value, and I am humbled to be surrounded by so many organizations who approach clients first with dignity and care rather than with an agenda.

I’m really excited to be part of the ReCity team and to meet so many people who are invested in doing meaningful work in Durham. Please introduce yourself if you see me around, and let me know if there’s any way I can be useful to you! Looking forward to meeting you all!


Meet Tayler

My name is Tayler Miller, I will be interning with ReCity for the 2018 fall semester. I attend North Carolina Central University, I am a Business Marketing senior and I will be graduating May 2019. After graduating from NCCU, I plan to further my education and get my MBA at UNC Charlotte. I plan to become a digital marketing manager in the future for a large corporation. I am originally from Harlem, NY born and raised and I am my own self-taught artist. I own a customized clothing business called Tay Gang Kustomz, I specialize in jackets, distressing and sneakers. Additionally, I enjoy painting on canvas.

Why ReCity?

One part that stood out from ReCity’s mission statement was, “shared space and shared impact—that’s the power of ReCity Network. I realized this is where I wanted to become an intern because there aren’t many platforms where multiple organizations collaborate and collectively reach their goals. I knew through being a business owner and a dreamer that I could get a lot from my experience at ReCity.

Coming from Harlem, NY I have things happen in my community that I wanted to change but I didn’t know how to turn my frustration into possibilities. I have always had an interest in starting my own non-profit organization and giving back to the community. My mother has always been my inspiration, she teaches in the New York City public school system. I’ve seen her buy school supplies and clothing for her students because their families couldn’t afford to. Being part of the ReCity community has given me inspiration and an idea for a safe haven for students. Specifically, one where students and parents can work and have computer access for free.

I’d like to see the ReCity model recreated not only Harlem but in Washington Heights, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. I am honored to have the opportunity to learn from diverse people and impact my communities in Durham and Harlem. I am very proud to join the ReCity community.

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Drive to Thrive!

We were thrilled to welcome almost 200 old and new friends alike who attended our #DrivetoThrive Banquet last week! It was a night of celebration and innovation as we highlighted ReCity’s impact since we opened our doors 2 years ago. 94% of our partners report their community partnerships are stronger since joining ReCity. Watch this video of one of those stories of life-transforming impact!

We also want to give a huge shoutout to our Drive to Thrive corporate sponsors! Your investment will enable us to continue providing critical capacity-building space and services to our 100-member network of social impact leaders! Thank you for partnering with us to build a more just Durham!

With $40,210 raised, we are just $9,000 away from reaching our $50k event goal by November 1st! Click below to help us reach the finish line!

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Seven Questions with Mayor Steve Schewel

ReCity Network is proud to celebrate two years of social impact this fall! We recently hosted a special ReCity Roundtable featuring the Mayor of Durham, Steve Schewel. Mayor Schewel is deeply committed to the success of Durham. Through his advocacy and policies, he is working to create a community that is welcoming and prosperous for all. ReCity Staff sat down with Mayor Schewel to ask his thoughts on the future of social impact in Durham.

What initially sparked your passion for local government and for public service?

I first got interested in the idea of running for office through running for the school board. My kids were in public schools and I had been very involved as a PTA President. I also served on the Boards of Directors, working to try and improve the quality of our schools for everybody. I was 53 when I ran for mayor. I had been very involved in the community for a long time before I decided to run for office.

What do you believe is the most current pressing social issue in Durham? What are some resources that either exist currently or that you hope to develop in the future to see improvement on this issue?

Undoubtedly, the most significant issue we face is the continuing poverty of a large segment of our community, mainly communities of color. Gentrification has only added to this challenge, but the challenge has been here and that’s what we need to attack. There are a lot of people who are working very hard on this, we have to take a holistic approach.

Are there any resources or initiatives that you’re excited about that could move the needle on the issue?

I’m excited about our new city economic development plan based on shared economic prosperity. I’m also excited about the work we’re doing on affordable housing. This year, the city is spending 17 million dollars to build and maintain affordable housing in Durham. There’s also a lot of work going on around food security. We need a city where no child--where no person--goes hungry.

How can people in social impact spaces effectively collaborate with city government?

There are some areas where the city has very close relationships with nonprofit partners or with mission driven for-profits. For example, in our affordable housing, we’re working with nonprofits and the Durham Housing Authority to build and maintain affordable housing. The same is true of our work in criminal justice reform with Bull City United. Collaboration is crucial. People in social impact spaces are already doing this work. We need to come together and find common paths forward.

What about ReCity’s mission has you excited?

I had seen in my own experience the ways in which people being in the same physical space can spark cooperative work, creativity, and partnerships. It’s very inspiring to walking into ReCity and see all of the organizations and know that they will be collaborating in ways that wouldn’t happen if they were not together. I also appreciate the intentionality with which work is done at ReCity. Specifically, the efforts to increase the capacity of organizations.

What kind of long-term impact do you think that a model like this can have on a city like Durham?

What strikes me is we need more of it. Government can only do a small portion of the things that we need done to build a kind of community that we want to be in. ReCity is strengthening these organizations’ capacities so that they’re able to do more, collaborate, and make the kind of community we want. If we continue in this spirit, we can make the city we love a city for all.

If you had to identify your vision for the next five to ten years in Durham, where do you hope to see the needle move on social impact?

Durham is a city that is in a period of tremendous prosperity...for most of us. Currently, 20% of our residents, mainly people of color, are not sharing in this prosperity. Whether you’re in city government, Durham Public Schools, or working in the social impact sector, our goal has to be to work together to change this. I believe this is Durham’s common vision; to work towards being city where our prosperity is shared.

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Introducing Zenzele Barnes, ReCity's New Community Manager!

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Tell us a little bit about your background. 

I’m a Durham native and I graduated from Queens University of Charlotte with a degree in Communication and a New Media Design minor. Professionally, I have worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Wake County and a City Year Member in Miami. I also served as an Arts Administration Apprentice at Liberty Arts Studio here in Durham. I have a strong interest in the arts and community-based work that uplifts marginalized voices. 

Why were you drawn to ReCity's mission? 

I was drawn to ReCity’s value of Achieving the Impossible. It can be so hard to dream big and stay optimistic in the world. For me, I go through life with the mindset of trying to leave things better than where I started them. There’s a whiteboard in the ReCity office where community partners can write out their accomplishments. I think it’s wonderful because it celebrates the small ways that our community moves forward toward achieving the impossible.

Who is one person that inspires you? 

I’m actually going to cheat and list two people who inspire me; my grandmothers! I am so thankful that both sides of my family have such strong matriarchs. They are the most generous and humble people I know. Their love and joy extend past my family and seeps into the community. I am truly a better person because of them.

What do you love most about Durham? 

I love that Durham is a city with a rich sense of history, a growing arts community, and down-to-earth people.

What's your favorite local restaurant? 

My favorite restaurant is Elmo’s, it’s tried and true. Plus, the pancakes are as big as your head!

What's one fun fact about yourself? 

I love to sew and make my own clothes.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time? 

I enjoy reading, listening to music, crafting, and practicing the bass.

What song best describes your personality? 

Midnight by Lianne la Havas

What are you looking forward to most about joining the ReCity team? 

I am looking forward to working with like-minded community advocates and change-makers.

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ReCity Launching "ReCity Connect"

Shared space and shared impact—that’s the power of ReCity Network.

To help us further that mission, we are pleased to announce a new partnership with Protopia to develop ReCity Connect, an advisory network to provide ReCity’s members with access to local expertise to help them develop and grow their organizations. Protopia is a Raleigh-based startup that makes it easy for members to get help from their community.

We are looking for members of the Durham community to join ReCity Connect and volunteer their professional expertise and know-how to help our member organizations succeed.

Here’s how it will work:

As a member of the ReCity Connect you will receive relevant requests from ReCity’s organization based on your skills and expertise.  If you receive a request and it is a good time and you can help, you will reply with your answer. If you cannot help because you do not have time or it is not a good match, you just reply ‘no.’ You can also elect at any time to opt out of ReCity Connect.

The best part is there is no logins or downloading an app. Requests will come via email and be matched on the basis of your skills, expertise, and schedule preference. Thus, if you have expertise in finance, it could be a question on budget management. If you are marketing professional, it could be a request to review an organization’s marketing plan.  

We believe that your expertise would provide an invaluable service to our member organizations. If you’re interested in volunteering with ReCity Connect please visit our volunteer page (http://www.recitynetwork.org/connect) and fill out the registration form.

Over the next month, we will be working with Protopia to recruit volunteers and roll-out the network. Our goal is to launch ReCity Connect in early March.

Join us in rewriting the story of our city, together!

Rob Shields Executive Director

Rob Shields Executive Director

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NC Works NEXTGEN Joins ReCity, Makes Immediate Community Impact

A dynamic new partner has burst on the scene at ReCity Network, thanks to Eric Haddock and the team at NCWorks NEXTGEN.

A program of the Eckerd Connects, NCWorks NEXTGEN fulfills the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act (WIOA). The legislation commits federal funding, to be disbursed and managed at state and local government level, for workforce development that creates employment opportunities for traditionally underserved communities.

The major focus of the program, according to its parent organization, is to connect in-school and out-of-school youth to career readiness, career guidance, remediation, community resources and employment and training opportunities. The NCWorks NEXTGEN Program provides skills necessary to gain and retain employment, directs individuals to careers that are in demand and promotes employment advancement to become self-sufficient.

The organization’s mission is to partner with businesses across Durham County to provide “work experiences” to area youth aged 17 to 24. According to Haddock, it’s the work experience concept that sets the organization apart. “The program provides funding for real jobs in industries our constituents may otherwise not gain access,” he said. “It provides funding for up to three-month experience, where we pay an amount equal to a typical starting salary in that industry. If, after three months, the youth participant and the corporate partner see a good fit, the company makes a permanent hire. Otherwise, it’s great experience and a quality reference for the participant’s resume moving forward.”

The organization also helps participants, based on needs, to obtain GEDs and/or job training.

Haddock sees benefits that go beyond the gaining of employment, to the empowerment of better lives for his participants. “We were privileged to place one of our participants at the emerging social media startup SpokeHub,” he explained. “She has done so well in the work experience that she is being considered for permanent employment and is in the process of leaving a shelter to live independently with her son. That’s a better career and a better life.”

Since joining ReCity in mid-November, Haddock has seen the power of collaboration at Durham’s hub for social impact. “Right away, we found synergy, not only in doing work together but in receiving guidance from some of the great leaders at ReCity,” said Haddock. “The H.E.A.R.T.S foundation, Housing for New Hope, and Step Up Durham have been especially good to us, helping us help our constituents. It helps to know when we’re working with the same kids as another ReCity organization, so that we know that the kids are finding stable support in all of their situations while we work on employment.”

NCWorks NEXTGEN has also worked with external agencies to take advantage of ReCity’s event space, already hosting a rap session with Durham Technical Community College to build awareness of Durham Tech’s free classes for job training.

The organization’s team is active, and their impact is clear. NCWorks has already developed
relationships with 28 area companies willing to participate in work experiences. 15 work experiences have taken place since the program’s launch last October, and Haddock says the group will serve 150 youth in 2018.

In addition to SpokeHub, the participating corporate partners come from a range of industries, some with national name recognition and others from every corner of the Durham business community. Partners include Meineke, H.E.A.R.T.S., KSE Scientific, Playground Studios, the Scrap Exchange, and ReCity partner Zweli’s Catering.

For more information on NCWorks NEXTGEN, powered by Eckerd Connects, visit
https://eckerd.org/nextgendurham.

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