Citizens Academies

City-County of Durham, NC



  • City-County of Durham, NC: Durham City/County Neighborhood College
  • Population: 267,587 (Durham County)
  • Years Offered: 9 (2003-present)
  • Signature Innovation: Program is a collaboration between the City and County of Durham; participants undergo a tax check to enforce residency requirement

Since 2003, the City of Durham and Durham County have partnered to offer the Durham Neighborhood College. This partnership permeates nearly every aspect of the program. Every fall from September until November, 30 residents "have a chance to meet and interact with City and County staff." For two and a half hours over nine weeks, Durham citizens hear from staff and meet new neighbors to learn about City and County services, community development, and both governments' budget processes, among others.

A key innovation in Durham's Neighborhood College has been its method to select participants each year. Only Durham residents are eligible to apply. Indeed, once a resident submits an application, property and vehicle taxes verify the citizen has no outstanding taxes owed. Once cleared, applicants are selected to make up a class that represents a diversity of geographic residencies within Durham.

The City and County of Durham reserve a budget of $6,000 for the program, split evenly between the two governments. Each applicant must pay a registration fee of $30 to support the program, but some scholarships are available. A further demonstration of collaboration is exhibited through site selection for each session: the City and County equally divide the number of total sessions at each one's venues.

While the structure and budget of Durham's program is collaborative and offers a streamlined presentation for participants, Durham's level of rigor in applicant selection also sets it apart.


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