By Jordan Lappin
The truth is that the education system in the US is failing its students. Compared to other countries throughout the world, the United States ranks 38th in math and 24th in science out of 71 countries. For students from under-resourced families, the reality is much worse. Black and Hispanic graduation rates lag behind the broader community, and there is a huge achievement gap between students from underprivileged families and those from families with greater resources. And that’s where Durham Nativity School comes into the picture.
In the early 2000’s, Dr. Moylan, a Duke Hospital Trauma Surgeon, was tired of seeing young black men end up in the trauma unit as a result of gang violence on the streets of Durham. And he decided to do something about it. As retirement approached, someone suggested that Dr. Moylan visited the Nativity School in New York City. In Brooklyn NY, the original Nativity School is an extended-day and school-year program designed to prepare middle school students for four-year college preparatory schools, followed by college “to become people for others.” The Moylans visited the New York Nativity School as well as other Nativity schools in Boston and Baltimore. They ultimately concluded that the Nativity Miguel Model of a sustained (rather than a short-term) approach to education would be the most effective in Durham. After a year-long planning process, along with the help of others in the Durham community, the school opened in the fall of 2002.
Today, twenty years later, Durham Nativity School remains a pioneer of change in the US education system. The Mission of Durham Nativity School is to provide an excellent education for young men, empowering them to make a difference in the world. What differentiates Durham Nativity School from other institutions is its twelve-year support system for young men in 5th through 8th grade who have the ability and commitment to achieve, but not the resources for a quality, independent school education. During 8th grade, the Director of Graduate Support guides each student through the high school application process. DNS assists in any gaps in high school scholarship and tuition that the family may be unable to afford. Upon graduation from middle school, DNS helps with the transition to high school, monitors the students progress, and acts as a supportive resource for each student during uncertain times.To date, Durham Nativity School maintains a one hundred percent high school graduation rate, and more than ninety percent of our graduates have attended college.
So how can you volunteer at Durham Nativity School?
1. Become a tutor - commit to coming to the school each week to provide 1 on 1 assistance to the boys who need help in subjects they may struggle with.
2. Donate school supplies and sports equipment - DNS is always appreciative of these kinds of items to make sure the students have everything they need in the classroom and on the sports field.
3. Become a counselor at the Summer Reading Camp - Each summer, DNS holds a summer reading camp to make sure the boys stay caught up to their grade reading level and to provide support to the students' parents who need someone to watch their children as they work.
4. Volunteer as a club mentor - Is there a certain sport or niche that you are passionate about? DNS is looking to grow its selection of extracurricular clubs to enhance the learning experience, so commit to coming once a week to teach the boys.
By Jordan Lappin
This week, we are highlighting A Place at the Table in Raleigh, NC!
A Place at the Table is a pay-what-you-can cafe located in downtown Raleigh--one of 61 cafes across the entire US. A Place at the Table was founded by Maggie Kane in 2013; she grew up volunteering at soup kitchens and began to notice several things as a young and curious child: “One thing that always struck me as strange was why I was the one serving this food across the line to a kid who looked just like me. We would scoop out whatever we had prepared that day, sometimes chicken, sometimes pork, and serve it to a kid that looked just like me.” After graduating from college, Maggie decided to take the nonprofit route where her passion lies.
“One in seven people are food insecure in Raleigh! That’s one in seven people in your row. Think about it that way. One in five children are hungry. That is not okay! Knowing these numbers and getting to know so many incredible people experiencing poverty, I knew I needed to do something about it.”
And Maggie did do something about it. She opened the second pay-what-you-can-cafe in North Carolina. A Place at the Table is an alternative to the standard soup kitchen model. A Place at the Table feels like a real restaurant… because it is a real restaurant. When you walk in you smell fresh baked pastry items and the smell of bacon. You hear music playing. People gather with friends and family and partake in conversation over a quality meal. What makes A Place at the Table Different from other restaurants however, is that once you get up to the register and order your meal, the person working the register says, “your suggested price is…would you like to pay that price, less, or volunteer for your meal?”
Suggested pricing means just that. You can choose to pay that price, pay more, and pay it forward for someone else who can’t afford their meal. You can also pay less if that is all you have. The key feature of A Place at the Table is that you can pay by volunteering. Maggie Kane says that nearly 40 to 60 people per day are signed up to volunteer or are volunteering for their meal. The mission of A Place at the Table is clear: to provide community and good food for all, regardless of means. “We eat together. And we volunteer together.”
Jordan Hannan and Jordan Lappin