Raleigh-Durham: ReCity Fosters Systemic Change for Disconnected Youth
Three years ago, Devin Lauva was just another juvenile delinquent, making poor choices and landing in hot water with the law. At about this same time, J.D. Greear, lead pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, met with Durham’s mayor, Bill Bell, to determine the community’s greatest need. That’s when Greear learned that 4,000 unemployed, disconnected youth (ages 16 to 24) live in the city. Bell also noted a “problem behind the problem.” Although 400 organizations existed in Durham—all designed to help this population of youth—their efforts were siloed, making them ineffective and underutilized.
To help unite these nonprofits, for-profits and faith-based groups, in 2014 Summit launched ReCity, a youth employment incubator in downtown Durham. ReCity, whose name reflects all of the “re” words the initiative encapsulates—restoration, reconciliation, reconnection, reimagination—does not provide direct services to youth but rather connects those services to each other. Shields’ role is to consult with the leaders of these organizations, learn about their strengths and challenges, and match the services that complement each other.
In just one year, ReCity has already made an indelible impact on Durham’s youth, as evidenced by the emergence of growing partnerships (33 currently), the formation of five uniquely new collaboratives since April 2016 and the placement of 75 young people in paid internships. In addition, the percentage of minority-led organizations (56 percent) has helped create a powerful bridge between the white and black communities.