3 Years of Community Impact at the Durham Success Summit

May 10, 2021

3 Years of Community Impact at the Durham Success Summit

The Durham Success Summit was started with one goal in mind: fostering success in young black men in our local community. For the past three years we’ve worked tirelessly with this goal in mind - now it’s time to lookback on all we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished, and how we’ll proceed in the future.

Before DSS

Prior to the establishment of the Durham Success Summit, the situation was dire for African Americans in the community:

·      One-third of Durham’s black residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 62% of the city’s white residents.

·      The average after-tax income was growing at a rate of $745,000 a year for the top 1%, but by only $800 for the bottom 1%.

·      During the same time frame, enrichment expenditures for youth in higher-income households increased 700% more than that of lower-income households.

There was a clear widening gap between the affluent and the disadvantaged. Our thoughts were immediately on the young black men being directly and indirectly impacted by this, and we brainstormed ways to best approach a possible solution. How could we correct the course of the men growing up in this environment?


The Mentor Impact

·      At-risk young adults are more likely to have planned to enroll or be enrolled in college by age 18-24 if they had a mentor.

·      75% of at-risk young adults who had a mentor aspired to enroll in and graduate from college, compared to 56% of young adults who lacked a mentor.

·      A lack of mentorship was also connected to a 13%decrease in salaries and 19% decrease in manager earnings compared to those with similar experience and credentials who did receive a mentorship.

Enter Durham Success Summit.

This annual leadership summit focused on providing African American males aged 18-24 the opportunity to explore exciting career paths as well as cultivate key relationships with peers and mentors from a variety of industries.

DSS focused particularly on incubating 4 skills:

·      Leadership Development

·      Community Awareness

·      Networking

·      Career Development

As a whole, the organization placed emphasis on Impact, Clarity, Improvement, Connection, and Accountability.

Tracking Growth and Impact

In 2019, DSS started humble – 15 speakers, 75 attendees.

In 2020 – Despite the pandemic – Durham Success Summit managed to attract 160 participants, 30 speakers, and secured a partnership with North Carolina Central University’s Male Achievement Center.

And in 2021 the goal is to continue the growth, with a projected 200 participants and a partnership with 2 different local Universities.

Feedback from the attendees has been incredibly encouraging, as the annual survey from 2020 revealed:

·      Overall, students rated the program 4.7 stars out of 5.

·      94% of participants said they felt clear in their life and career goals, compared to 23% prior to the Summit.

·      76% of students said they would attend another event hosted by Durham Success Summit.

·      And a staggering 100% of participants felt they walked away with actionable tools they could implement into their lives.

There are also real success stories and testimonials: Jordan Jackson, a 2020 Summit participant, noted that DSS enabled him to “[learn from]the knowledge of others” and went on to found his own business, BLXCK Clothing Company. Tyler Fisher, another 2020 Summit participant, called DSS a “transformational experience”, and went on to publish 2 children’s books as well as pay it forward by starting a social media campaign to inspire others.

The Future of DSS

Durham Success Summit was started by Derek Rhodes in aneffort to channel his passion for civic engagement and leadership development back into his hometown as he attempted to fight a growing problem. Now, withthese tangible results showing that the model he’s developed in DSS works, the stage is set for an expansion of DSS to impact more cities and states acrossthe country. The circumstances causing African American youth to be left behind exist nationwide, but the data shows that programs like Durham Success Summit arereal and potent solutions that can close the gap.

Check out the Durham Success Summit at http://www.dssnc.org and Instagram (@DurhamSummit).