Student U is a community organization that uses the power of education to build a just and equitable Durham. Its goal is to empower and equip first-generation college students in Durham Public Schools to thrive, complete a college education, and become leaders in the community.

First-generation college-bound students live and learn within a broken system that often prevents them from reaching their full potential. Structural racism, intergenerational poverty, and other injustices create significant personal and institutional barriers to success. Using a “whole-family” approach, and supporting student- and family-led advocacy initiatives, Student U has had some powerful results: 550 empowered students each year, 88% student retention in the program; 100% high school graduation rate; 90% college enrollment rate; and 43 college graduates since 2014.

Volunteers can support students and their families through tutoring or in the W.G. Pearson Community Garden.


Tutoring takes place at the W.G. Pearson Center, daily, during the Year-Round Program for middle school students and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for high school students. There are both virtual and in-person tutoring options.

Volunteer to tutor with Student U by filling out this form.

Community Garden

To address limited access to fresh and healthy foods, the W.G. Pearson Center operates a community and teaching garden in its backyard, producing fresh produce for Student U community members. The garden is maintained by Student U’s Middle School Cooking and Gardening Club and by the work of monthly volunteers. Garden Workdays are scheduled on a monthly basis on Saturdays and typically run from 9:00-11:00 AM.

Sign up to volunteer in the Community Garden by filling out this form.

Contact Connor Kirkpatrick at for more information about the Community Garden.


You can find more information on Student U at