Partners for Youth, YO:Durham to merge

Jan. 12, 2014 @ 06:29 PM

Two small Durham nonprofits that serve youths are merging. Partners for Youth, which mentors youths in Southwest Central Durham, and YO:Durham, which helps youths with workforce development, will become one nonprofit July 1. It will have a new, yet-to-be-determined name. The next six months will be spent ironing out the details of combining the two programs.
Susan Blackmon, who leads YO:Durham, will retire at the end of May. YO:Durham started out as a Durham Congregations In Action initiative called Year of Opportunity:Durham seven years ago. At-risk teenagers ages 15-17 receive service learning, a summer academy, internships and mentoring through the program, which has offices in Duke Memorial United Methodist Church. In the past few years, it has found annual funding outside DCIA, said Julie Wells, executive director of Partners for Youth. Upon Blackmon’s retirement, Wells will lead the newly combined nonprofit. PFY is housed in Lyon Park. Where the new nonprofit will be located is one of those details they’re working on, Wells said.
PFY and YO:Durham each served about 25 youth, and the new nonprofit will serve 50 or more teenagers with mentoring, workforce development and academic support. The planning of the merger came about after a year of discussion with DCIA Executive Director Spencer Bradford. He and Wells both attended End Poverty Durham meetings, and talked at the 2012 Faith Summit on Child Poverty about frustrations small agencies have fighting for limited funding and all working hard in the same city, Wells said.
Partners for Youth has been a staple of the Southwest Central Durham community, Wells said, which includes Lyon Park, Lakewood and Forest Hills, and they’d like to keep being one while adding more youth and options. Eric Olson-Getty, the remaining staff member of YO:Durham, will work at the new nonprofit, as will the PFY associate director plus two or three new people, Wells said.
She hopes that the excitement of the merger will bring new grants and funding opportunities, as the individual nonprofits didn’t have the capacity to grow. They have individual and collaborative funding sources, including the Stewards Fund, which offers challenge grants.
DCIA President Ginger Brasher-Cunningham said in a statement that the new board and supporting committees will contain members from both organizations, and “the new program will contain all of the important elements of both heritage organizations.”
The merger assessment process is funded by Duke University. Duke founded PFY as part of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Initiative, and PFY later became independent.
Wells said that they’ll make a more formal announcement about the merger at YO:Durham’s annual breakfast event in February.
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