I joined Governor Roy Cooper when he visited the leaders of the East Durham Children’s Initiative who shared with Governor Cooper the transformative changes that have been brought about in East Durham as a result of the organization’s work over the last 8 years. This initiative was begun in 2008 and it established a collaborative approach that focused concentrated attention on the lives and education of those living in a 120-block area east of downtown Durham. Approximately 11,500 people reside in this area of which about 3,800 are under the age of 18. This area struggled with high rates of poverty, crime, and unemployment as well as a lack of access to high-quality childcare, preschool opportunities, and high rates of obesity and health-related problems. This program has been extraordinarily successful in improving and touching the lives of children born to families in this area and to those attending public schools in improving educational outcomes as well as improving their health and quality of life. In addition, there has been a significant private investment in this neighborhood which has increased access to better housing as well as a business investment.
The collaborators include the Children’s Environmental Health Initiative of Duke University, Durham Public Schools, as well as private donors and foundations that have supported this work. I would also like to thank the Board for its vision in carrying out this transformative plan in our community which has helped so many. I hope that this important program can serve as a model for addressing problems in economically distressed communities across our state. I’d like to commend the collaborators for their work and Governor Cooper for taking time from his busy schedule to learn more about this vital program. His wife, Kristin Cooper, visited this program and was impressed by its performance on an earlier occasion.