By Jamese Slade
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE
NECD community members might have felt like they were back at school last Thursday at the East Durham Children’s Initiative community meeting.
Despite the socializing, smiles, food and beverages, attendees got down to business when organizers asked them to put their vision to paper.
Police officers, teachers and UNC, Duke and NCCU students were among the attendees.
“East Durham Children’s Initiative also known as EDCI is a pipeline of success from birth to the graduation of high school and readies children for college or careers,” said Wanda Boone, co-chair of EDCI. She said that EDCI will do whatever it takes to make sure children are successful along that pipeline.
EDCI’s program is modeled after the Harlem Children’s Zone, which focuses on making sure children go to college. Organizers are taking what they can from the programming and implementing it here in Durham and Northeast Central Durham (NECD) specifically.
“Research tells us that children in the community have been in a pipeline to prison, but now we want it to be a pipeline to education,” said Minnie Forte.
The kids are not the only focus of this program. Families are as well. Family support will include job training, housing assistance, health and wellness programs, after school and summer school services and financial literacy programs.
“In order to have safe and successful children, you have to have a safe and healthy environment,” said Boone.
To get the action started, the program is working step by step.
Boone said that EDCI is starting here with community conversations, during which community members will let organizers know what is important to them, what they like about their community, challenges they see and what they feel solutions are.
“It is a great coming together in the community,” said Cora Cole-McFadden, Mayor Pro-Tem. “EDCI will have a better understanding of the needs of our children and we will be more involved in the success of our children.”
“EDCI is wonderful. It will educate us on what is going on,” said Dee Mitchelle, president of resident services on Hoover Road. “I am hoping for more community involvement. The information has got to be city wide.”
Some community members, however, remain skeptical.
“I have problems with a particular individual with particular motive to enhance that present political agenda,” said Vivian McCoy. “Until I see that it is totally community driven I will be a skeptic, because they did not go to the community and ask the community if they wanted this program.”
“The long-term goal for EDCI is to have children graduating from college and coming back to live, work and thrive in the community,” Boone said. “You will have more skills and potential to change the community.”