Durham nonprofit works to help low-income students succeed

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- In just a few weeks, thousands of students will be forced to learn virtually.

"Learning from home keeps us safe from the coronavirus but what happens if actually your family cannot create the conditions in order for you to work from home?" Alexandra Zagbayou said.

The executive director of the nonprofit Student U, Zagbayou works with low-income Durham students and their families to help create successful futures. And when the pandemic began, the mission became more important.

"We run the WG Pearson Center which is an old elementary school and it is 55,000 square feet, so we know we are going to open our own location to be a learning center," Zagbayou said.

It would be $75,000 for the buildout. So, she reached out to her friends at Nugget Comfort.

"She was just like, 'hey, this is a big ask ... can we get 100 Nuggets for this outdoor space we want to create? We really want to create this space of distance for children, and can you guys help us with that?'" Said Hannah Fussell, of Nugget Comfort said.

The extremely popular company based out of Durham can barely keep its modular foam furniture for children in stock, but it knew it could still help. It decided to create an online contest. People donated $10 to enter their name to win a retired Nugget cover. In just the first day, the company raised $30,000 and by the end of the week, it raised $54,000.

"In 24 hours to go from 100 nuggets to $30,000 to invest was pretty incredible. But also sent a message to our team that our community can show up for us," Zagbayou said.

Showing up to make a difference in their community.

"This is just one small thing but it's part of Nugget wanting to really be more outspoken, be more forceful with our beliefs and using our platform for good," said Ryan Cocca, of Nugget Comfort.

Student U still needs about $20,000 to complete a socially distanced outdoor area for kids to learn and play. If you'd like to donate or learn more, click here.
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