Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dedicated to Durham

"I will work for Durham until the day I die!"
Cora Cole-McFadden, Civic Honor Award
Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce
Annual Meeting | February 8, 2018

Cora is one of my favorite folks. I called her "Durham dynamite" in a tweet. The former City Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Tem has a big spirit.

There's an Old Testament story about the prophets Elijah and Elisha where the latter asks "Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit." That's my request of Cora!

In accepting the Durham Chamber's Civic Honor Award last week, she implored the business community to provide internships and summer jobs for Durham youth - to expose them to the world of business, to the world of work.

Durham Public Schools and Made in Durham are putting a fresh emphasis on work-based learning. It begins simply with career awareness, but that first rung on the ladder is important, especially for our children living at the poverty level. They don't necessarily see beyond their circumstances or neighborhood. An engaging career fair, a summertime job shadow opportunity or part-time job could alter the trajectory of a young life.

The City has a YouthWork program. The Durham Bulls and Bull City Hospitality are participating. YouthWork is currently lining up several hundred summer internships. Ideally, it would be in the thousands. 

There are over ten thousand students in Durham's high schools. As the kids move from grade to grade, we need to provide a couple thousand career exposures each year for rising sophomores and juniors, and then for graduates.

That's ambitious, but scale is important. We need those big numbers to make a significant difference.