Over the weekend, The News & Observer ran an op-ed by MDC president David Dodson about efforts to improve economic mobility for low-income young people in North Carolina:
It’s starting to happen in Durham. Just ask Zavier Eure.
Eure was in the first graduating class last spring from the Southern School of Energy and Sustainability at Southern High School and spent the summer as an intern at the Durham manufacturing plant of Biogen, a global biotechnology company. There, Eure was a temporary member of Biogen’s global project engineering team tasked with creating a process flow diagram depicting each step in the drug purification process.
“I never took an engineering class, and I never had any interest in the field,” said Eure, an aspiring veterinarian. “But now I’m thinking I can put my engineering experience to good use in a company that works with robotic prosthetics for animals.”
He was one of the first Durham students to participate in a new career internship program launched by Biogen with Made in Durham, a nonprofit created and incubated at MDC, and its partners on the Business Engagement Team of the Durham YouthWork Summer Internship Program. These partners include Durham Public Schools, Durham Technical Community College and Youth Employed and Succeeding.
Made in Durham is an example of what it means to start building an infrastructure of opportunity. It’s a public-private partnership that strives to ensure all Durham youth and young adults complete a post-secondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25. This summer, Made in Durham matched 72 student interns with 21 local employers in the high-growth fields of health and life sciences, education, banking and construction. Overall, Made in Durham and the YouthWork Business Engagement Team recruited, trained, placed and evaluated 481 youth interns this summer. And they’re just getting started.
Economic mobility – the idea that your success is not dependent on your situation at birth – is core to our vision of America. While it’s always been a myth (particularly for women and people of color), we know ways to make mobility more realistic. By investing in the infrastructure of opportunity, we can get closer to making sure that young people like Zavier Eure have the chance to thrive.
Read the full op-ed here.