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  • Students to Scholars

S2S Receives Redwoods Innovation Grant!

Press release: 11.15.2018


Jeanne Langley,

Students to Scholars


The Redwoods Group Foundation 2018 Innovation Challenge: Students to Scholars awarded $25,000 grant

Students to Scholars—a project of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange Counties—has been selected to receive a $25,000 grant for their work to support promising young middle school students to achieve academic success.

Each year, The Redwoods Group Foundation’s Innovation Challenge recognizes youth-serving community organizations who are pioneering new and innovative ways to tackle some of society’s biggest challenges. This year, the challenge theme was around bravery—encouraging organizations to try new things and take brave steps in order to create change faster and more effectively than might otherwise be possible.

The Challenge received 73 applications, and Students to Scholars—a project designed to close the achievement gap by creating a bridge between promising Club middle school students and Durham’s independent schools—was selected as one of four winning projects.

About Students to Scholars

Across the country, the achievement gap between different student groups continues to widen—with white and Asian American students outperforming African American and Latino students by 20+ points in test scores by 4th grade. In Durham, North Carolina, the gap is even more pronounced. Even as activists and advocates work hard to improve outcomes in high poverty public schools, it’s a reality that there will be students who would be better served in smaller classroom settings—but who don’t have access to the same opportunities as many of their white counterparts.

Students to Scholars (S2S) exists to provide an immediate intervention for promising Boys & Girls Club middle school students to prepare them for the college path in high school. Working with four select independent schools in the area, S2S connects these bright children with the schools during the admissions process and then provides information, mentoring, financial assistance, and resources to help these students who would not otherwise have the opportunity of an independent school education during their middle school years.


The goal is not to replace or undermine Durham Public Schools—indeed many S2S kids will return to the Durham Public School system for high school—but rather to offer an intensive, short-term boost that widens kids’ horizons and prepares them for college track, wherever they continue their education.

“The debate around the achievement gap and public versus private education is too often framed as an either/or discussion. But what attracted us to Students to Scholars was the fact that they are willing to move beyond this kind of binary thinking. Instead, they create bridges between different communities and different education models, encouraging discussion, collaboration and continual improvement—but also not letting promising kids fall by the wayside as we wait for more systemic education reform.” Robin Rennells, Director of The Redwoods Group Foundation.

Other Grant Winners

Other winning projects included Camp Ga’avah (Pride), an LGBTQ camp run by Friedberg JCC; Fridays at the Clubs, an initiative of Boys & Girls Clubs of Pueblo County responding to a public school transition to a four day school week; as well as The Immigrant Business Owners Association of Champaign County, a project of YMCA of the University of Illinois which offers resources, networking and support to first generation immigrant entrepreneurs.

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