2021-2022 Durham Youth Leadership Fund

The Durham Youth Leadership Fund (DYLF) is a direct response to the needs and dreams we heard about during the Durham Youth Listening Project. With support from Durham County ($88,000) and the City of Durham ($58,000), a total of $146,000 was awarded to 14 community organizations and groups to move forward the recommendations of the Listening Project. The funding period for projects is July 2021-June 2022. 

Focus of Funding

Community-based projects that support:

  • Young people ages 13-24 years
  • Black, Latinx, and Indigenous youth; LGBTQ+ youth; immigrant and migrant youth; youth who have experienced economic hardships, houselessness, interactions with law enforcement, or being pushed out of institutions, including education environments; youth who have recently aged out of foster care; and youth with disabilities, including physical, mental, and developmental

And that are working on one or more of these focus areas:

  • Creating meaningful leadership and decision making opportunities for young people; 
  • Creating welcoming and supportive places for young people and their families; and 
  • Responding to current COVID-19 needs


Selection Process

The DYLF planning and selection process involved a 12-person youth-adult grant-making team with City and County staff and community members. The team committed to designing an accessible application process at all steps, including ensuring Spanish language access. There were two steps in the application process: 1) a short interest form; and 2) a pitch session, during which the applicant and selection team could be in conversation about the proposed idea. We received over 50 applications with a total of over $707,000 in requested funds.


Awarded projects

A summary of all 14 funded projects is below. Starred (*) projects are being led by a young person and/or at least one young person is on the project team.  

The Office on Youth will be supporting awarded teams throughout the year in various ways. We'll host several convenings with the full cohort for sharing progress, strategies, lessons learned, and general connecting and conversation. We’ll also support with promoting events and successes; connecting young people to resources being provided; and linking up organizations with similar goals. Connect with us on Instagram for updates on these projects throughout the year.

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*Be Connected Durham & Beyond - Fayetteville Street Corridor (FSC) Fellows Project ($15,000): 

Host Back to Skate event connecting youth and families to resources, art, each other; expand FSC resource network; support and partner with youth leaders

Black and Belonging - Teaching Our Teachers How to Affirm Us ($9,960):

Youth researchers will develop an online educator professional development course about creating belonging-centered classroom instructional practices

Black August in the Park ($10,000):

Work with youth leaders to create youth-specific spaces at the Black August in the Park Festival that allow young people to engage with each other, their community, and social justice organizations

El Centro Hispano – Jóvenes Líderes en Acción (JLA) ($10,000): 

Support and partner with JLA youth leaders in building leadership skills, advocating for issues important to them, connecting them to resources, and better engaging with the community

*Hawk’s Nest Healing Gardens - Youth Ambassador Program ($12,000): 

Host new farm apprenticeship program, including training in marketing and communication and selling at market; and host a youth-led community celebration

*iNSIDE oUT 180: Connection, Community, and Leadership ($8,000):

Host events that center and affirm the identities, joy and experiences of LGBTQ+ youth; launch a new lending library; and support and partner with youth leaders

*Triangle Ultimate – Leveling the Playing Field at Durham Public Schools ($5,000): 

Support and train a team of youth coaches who organize and lead their Ultimate Frisbee middle school teams; and expand adult coaching team and training for high school leagues 

*TWO, Inc. - Get Ready for the Comeback ($6,400):

Back to School block party to encourage youth and families at start of school year; post-event weekly motivational messages for transition to in-person learning; and support and partner with youth leaders

Seasons of Destiny, Inc. - Transitional Housing for Young Mothers ($15,000): 

House and support transition age pregnant women experiencing houselessness; partner with community organizations for supports; and host skill building workshops   

Southern Coalition for Social Justice - Youth Justice Project Steering Committee ($15,000):

Expand membership and convene biweekly meetings with youth leaders; and support youth in their advocacy work through connections and skill building

*StandUp-SpeakOut NC - Art Heals ($10,000):

Use art and therapeutic practices to create welcoming and affirming spaces for youth; host final event to showcase art and expression; and create docu-series about the process

Student U - COVID-19 Relief Support for Students and Families ($10,000): 

Funds will support and maintain Student U’s emergency student and family support fund; connect participating families to other resources 

working to extend anti-racist education (we are) - Student Grants for Anti-racism ($5,000):

Funds will expand we are’s microgrants program for 6-11th grade students seeking to apply anti-racism efforts in their school communities; community liaisons will support students in their projects

World Relief Durham (WRD) – Youth Fellowship Program ($15,000): 

Host new youth fellowship program for refugee and immigrant youth; fellows will be engaged as decision makers and leaders in the organization though program planning, staff meetings, and community task forces