Gov. Roy Cooper Joins EDCI in Support of Early Childhood Outcomes and Student Success in East Durham

Gov. Roy Cooper visits with EDCI and Board Chair Barker French.

Gov. Roy Cooper looks onto an EDCI presentation with Barker French, chair of EDCI's Board of Directors. (Corey Risinger/EDCI)

[DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA] On Friday, Gov. Roy Cooper joined the East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) to learn about the nonprofit’s cradle to college or career model and the positive outcomes realized for East Durham families.

EDCI also hosted N.C. Sen. Floyd McKissick Jr. – a longtime Durham advocate and public official – and Dr. Pascal Mubenga, Superintendent of Durham Public Schools. 

EDCI, a place-based nonprofit inspired by the Harlem Children’s Zone, has offered academic interventions and out-of-school programming since its creation in 2011. The nonprofit focuses its efforts within a 120-block area identified by the state as a particularly vulnerable neighborhood of Durham. Recognizing the importance of early childhood experiences on brain development and learning, EDCI enrolls children from birth and connects families with a team of Family Advocates, who aim to engage parents in their children’s education. EDCI Advocates support families by conducting screenings and assessments, delivering parent workshops, providing referrals to services, and functioning as a crucial bridge between families, teachers, and schools.

“Our youngest children were born last night,” said David Reese, EDCI President & CEO, explaining that their connection back to EDCI begins with a nurse visit from Durham Connects. “And our oldest children are 14, so we’re growing our programming with them.” 

Reese emphasized the importance of community leadership in directing the nonprofit’s vision. That vision, he noted, closely aligns with the state’s Early Childhood Action Plan for children from birth to age 8.

“The Governor’s plan shines a critical light on factors contributing to education inequity in North Carolina and challenges everyone working on behalf of children and families to do more to hit the defined targets,” Reese said.

DPS Superintendent Mubenga celebrated DPS’s partnership with EDCI, highlighting an annual summer STEAM (science-technology-engineering-arts-mathematics) camp hosted at Eastway Elementary School and benefiting many of its students. The importance of education is rooted in Mubenga’s household – his daughter is an elementary school teacher – and he shared the need to equip students with effective and early interventions.

“DPS invests in STEAM Camp because it has a measurable impact. This past year, STEAM camp not only prevented summer learning loss, students achieved significant gains in literacy,” Mubenga said.

After visiting with N.C. First Lady Kristen Cooper during summertime, EDCI leadership was eager to host the governor for a conversation about student outcomes in East Durham. 

“Access to high quality and affordable early learning is critical for our youth in North Carolina. EDCI and its partners are providing the wrap-around supports and programs to ensure a strong start for East Durham children,” Gov. Cooper said.


East Durham Children’s Initiative (EDCI) is a 501(c)(3) that walks alongside East Durham families on the path from cradle to college or career. Learn more by visiting www.edci.org or contacting Kathleen Guerra, Director of External Engagement: kathleen.guerra@edci.org.

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