PYO August 2015 Newsletter

Dear PYO Family & Friends,

Here’s what has been happening within the organization lately…

Summer Career Academy Comes to an End

Keona & Kristine work on written communication by writing the day's journal prompt.

Keona & Kristine work on written communication by writing the day’s journal prompt.

Eight summers ago, YO:Durham began kicking off the Year of Opportunity for area youth. The program model was based on the city of Boston’s “Summer of Opportunity” which gives teens in that city a chance to get ahead through a paid six-week academy teaching leadership and life skills in a structured environment.

Part of YO’s legacy continues through Summer Career Academy.

This year’s SCA featured in-depth coverage of financial literacy including understanding bank accounts, savings, investments and being money smart through EVOLVE Mentoring and the Latino Credit Union. Students also got a firm foundation in understanding what it takes to be successful in a career through activities like routine journal writing, public speaking and working with a team as well as understanding concepts like leadership, ethics and social responsibility.

As the summer comes to an end, students will be tasked with calling prospective internship sites to set up interviews in the hopes that they will receive internships of their choice. Whether students receive their first choice or not, all PYO students interested in taking on an internship get one. The idea is that Durham youth who have little work experience, but have the motivation, can gain skills necessary to be successful by working their first “real” jobs.

SCA's final day features "speed interviews" in which students apply all they have learned the past six weeks by interviewing with the year's internship supervisors. The event gives employers a chance to perform initial interviews before follow-ups and students gain an afternoon of real-life interviewing practice to carry for life.

SCA’s final day features “speed interviews” in which students apply all they have learned the past six weeks by interviewing with the year’s internship supervisors. The event gives employers a chance to perform initial interviews before follow-ups and students gain an afternoon of real-life interviewing practice to carry for life.

A special thanks goes to our current yearlong internship placements:

  • SEEDS
  • Lincoln Community Clinic
  • El-Futuro
  • CORE Catering
  • Duke OB-GYN
  • Self-Help Credit Union
  • MDC
  • Southpoint Family Dentistry
  • Parker & Otis
  • The Durham VOICE
  • Kids Voting
  • The Scrap Exchange

Inaugural Camp Connect a Success

Camp Connect summer volunteer Nick T. goes over an algebra problem with students.

Camp Connect summer volunteer Nick T. goes over an algebra problem with students.

Camp Connect, PYO’s answer to students’ academic “summer slide,” has spent most of the summer catching up on high school math, learning about food security in Durham and reading various books on the subject.

Eshita Singh

Eshita Singh

One book students read was author Sandra Cisneros’s work
The House on Mango Street
which followed the coming-of-age story of a young Latina navigating life on Chicago’s south side — all of which tied into what students learned at the camp.

A special thanks goes to Eshita Singh, a pre-med senior at Duke University who came to us by way of the Y.E.S. Consortium (a program partnered by the U.S. Department of State, the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs and a group of non-profits led by the American Councils for International Education) as well as Kim Knox and the Duke Engage Program. Under their guidance and with their help, students learned about smart ways to shop for food, eat healthy and grow their own vegetables.

Some students are already looking forward to next year.

Laura C. attended Camp Connect after summer career academy sessions ended each day. She said it was an eye-opener.

“Especially since we learned about how much food is being wasted and how we need to make people aware of the issue,” Laura said. “Food insecurity is a big deal.”

Adam Barnard Reflects on SCA 2015

SCA instructor Adam Barnard (far right) and Durham Congregations in Action summer intern Zach DiMiele have spent the summer training and preparing PYO students in workforce competencies.

SCA instructor Adam Barnard (far right) and Durham Congregations in Action summer intern Zach DiMiele have spent the summer training and preparing PYO students in workforce competencies.


The Summer Career Academy is coming to a close this week. Over the last five weeks, 17 students from all over Durham have come together to learn job force development skills.

We have spent our time focusing on soft skills, through a variety of mock interviewing techniques, written and artistic activities and reflective conversation. These skills, such as communication, problem solving, critical thinking, information technology application, and many more, can be applied to a wide range of career options that our students have their sights set on after high school. The students have created resumes with professionals from Alston & Bird, undertaken an in-depth research project into potential future careers and learned about communication in the workplace from faculty from Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. Tolulope Omokaiye has provided interesting and engaging financial literacy lessons for our students and they have also heard from some truly great speakers this summer.

The Summer Career Academy relies on volunteers and the community to provide information and resources to our students so they learn how to not only get by in society but get ahead. Thank you so much to every speaker who has come to share their career experience with our students and to all who have generously donated breakfast or lunch this summer!

Special thanks to the good folks who provided food this summer:

  • Lee Wollman (and friends)
  • Drew Doll
  • Charlie Ebel
  • Susan McCraw
  • Avay Dolberry
  • Garrett Fogleman
  • Pilgrim UCC
  • Beth El Synagogue
  • Benia Johnson
  • Jessica Phillips
  • Miriam Valle
  • Rhoda Hormenoo
  • Pizzeria Toro
  • The Lofts at Lakeview Apartments
Garrett Fogleman, one of our summer lunch volunteers, is a senior at Voyager Academy. He cooked two weeks of lunches ranging from sliders to lasagna and more for SCA students as a community service venture.

Garrett Fogleman, one of our summer lunch volunteers, is a senior at Voyager Academy. He cooked two weeks of lunches ranging from sliders to lasagna and more for SCA students as a community service venture.

And to the speakers we have had visit:

  • David Fitts
  • Jock Lauterer
  • Keith Daniel
  • Susan Blackmon
  • Claudine Woods
  • Mary Beck White-Sutton & Monique Turrentine
  • Jenna Bryant
  • John Atkins
  • Let’s Talk





And a very special thanks to our hosts, James Sills and Sam Maclin at Mechanic and Farmer Corporate Center who open their doors with open arms to us each summer!

Our Summer Career Academy instructor, a recent Duke Divinity Master’s graduate, Adam Barnard, has been working with PYO for the past couple of years and took the lead on workforce training this summer.

Shay Kimzey Keeps Coming Back

“I keep coming back to PYO because of the environment the staff create and because of the enthusiasm of the students.

Shay Kimzey is a Raleigh native and recent graduate of Appalachian State University. In addition to summer work she often leads Girls Group and reading clubs with students.

Shay Kimzey is a Raleigh native and recent graduate of Appalachian State University. In addition to summer work she often leads Girls Group and reading clubs with students.

Not only are the students funny and welcoming, but they are eager to learn and to engage with those who are a part of PYO. It’s amazing to see the students progress over the years, and inspiring when they reach graduation day because you know how much they have invested in their future and education.

The staff take everyone’s voices into account, and are constantly trying to better themselves and the resources they offer the students. I have never worked somewhere that feels more equitable, non-hierarchical, and respectful than PYO.

All of these keep me drawn to PYO and wanting to come back every year.”

Shay Kimzey

Long-time PYO Students Move On

Kieara Chambers

Kieara Chambers

August is always a somewhat sad time of year at PYO. While it is the time many of our newer students begin to find their places in the program, it is also the time that our college sophomores phase out. Many of these students have been with the program since their freshman year in high school.

This year’s “graduates” include Kieara Chambers, Keo Ksor and Trina Aiken — all long-time PFY/PYO students.
Trina is studying medicine at East Carolina University while Keo is working on a college transfer at Durham Tech. Kieara is also at Durham Tech where she is working on a criminal justice degree.

Trina Aiken

Trina Aiken

Kieara said as she looks back at her years in the program, she is glad that she had the opportunity to participate. Some of her most memorable moments have been on annual PYO spring/summer retreats.

“On one of those trips I remember walking with Ms. Susan and talking about the future,”Kieara said. “That meant a lot to me.”

Keo Ksor

Keo Ksor

“PYO has been a huge benefit to me over the years because it not only helped me with academics but to learn to overcome my fears,” she said.

Looking forward, Kieara said she is optimistic about the future and is glad that PYO had a hand in shaping it.

PYO is proud of its graduates because no matter what, they stuck with it. They may be phasing out of the program, but they will always be a part of the legacy and in our hearts.

August Mentoring Highlight

Recent Riverside High graduate and rising Morehouse College freshman Emmanuel Johnson took full advantage of his mentor, Rob Lamme who works in government relations and communications, over the year. Emmanuel has been extremely active in Durham’s Teen Court of which he has been a member of for years and gives credit, in part, of his recent growth into a young man to Rob. What follows is his brief testimonial.

Rob Lamme and Emmanuel Johnson have been a mentoring pair for a year.

Rob Lamme and Emmanuel Johnson have been a mentoring pair for a year.

“Having a mentor my senior year was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. Over the past year my mentor, Rob, has treated me like his own son. He was never bothered by me calling asking him questions, of any kind, late at night. I think Rob truly embodies what a mentor is supposed be. He is a friend, a good network connection, a positive influence, and most of all, a good role model. I love our intellectual conversations with all kinds of people, and being exposed to the experiences and perspective that Rob has, it brings so much more to the conversations.

There’s so much I could say about Rob. I’ll just say that when PYO gave me a mentor I didn’t just get a mentor for a year, I gained a lifelong friend.”

Emmanuel Johnson

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