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  • Writer's pictureBenay Hicks

A new community-led effort to transform Durham Public Schools for every student

Editor’s note: We are excited to share with you a new community-led organization, the Durham Public Schools Foundation, through this guest post by Executive Director Magan Gonzales-Smith. You can read more about her vision for DPSF in today’s News and Observer.

Last summer, a group of 15 Durham Public Schools educators, parents and alums and Durham business and civic leaders were meeting every few weeks about how a new community-led effort could support and transform our public schools. Huddled around tables covered in sticky notes and chart paper, we identified big challenges and big opportunities for how community support and investment can realize the promise of public education in Durham. As we developed the early vision for this work, we talked with over 100 community members across Durham to incorporate their experiences and input.

What came out of this visioning work was the concept of a community-led effort to catalyze innovative ideas and foster community engagement that will accelerate transformation of the Durham Public Schools and ensure success and equity for every student.

The Durham Public Schools Foundation (DPSF) officially launched on August 22, 2018 at the DPS Convocation with 4,000 DPS educators and staff.

DPSF is grounded in the belief that we have brilliant students and committed educators in our public schools. We believe that Durham can fulfill the promise of public education when we bring our community’s resources and support behind them.

DPSF advances its mission through three priorities:

  1. Championing our public schools – DPSF aims to change the way people in Durham think about and talk about our public schools. We will encourage more families to enroll their children in DPS, thus ensuring that Durham has racially and socioeconomically integrated schools that are best positioned to prepare all of our students for working, living and thriving in diverse environments.

  2. Investing in our people – DPSF works with students, educators and families to identify what changes they want to transform our schools and works with DPS to turn those ideas into action. Stay tuned for the announcement of our first round of micro-grant recipients!

  3. Fostering innovation and equity – DPSF works with partners across the community to identify, develop and incubate new ideas that will help ensure every student in DPS develops a love for learning and the skills to thrive.

Durham will reach its full potential when our community invests in transformative learning environments that ensure all our students not only attend school together but thrive together. This is truly a community-led effort which means we need you!

Here are a few ways you can immediately support this work for Durham Public Schools:

  1. Help spread the word! You can follow DPSF on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @bullcityschools and let people know through word of mouth about this new organization that provides an avenue for tax deductible, charitable giving to support our public schools.

  2. Host a house party for you and your friends and neighbors to learn more about DPSF. Our Executive Director and a Board member will join you for an informal gathering in your living room or a larger fundraising focused event. Email Magan at to learn more.

  3. Stay in touch. Sign-up for our email list at to stay up-to-date on DPSF’s work.

  4. Make a contribution online at This community effort to accelerate the transformation of our public schools relies on community support.

Now is the time for all of us to renew our commitment to Durham Public Schools and its ability to nourish the brilliance in every student. We look forward to working alongside our school and community partners to build the public schools that all our students deserve.

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