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CUBE expands community, network through new partnership with ReCity

June 9, 2020 • Erin Reitz • No Comments

The Campus Y CUBE is finding creative ways to strengthen and grow its innovator community. Starting this summer, CUBE is partnering with Durham’s ReCity Network to share and expand their organizations’ unique resources.

CUBE and ReCity’s coalition is a natural one. For starters, CUBE is housed in the Campus Y, UNC’s hub for social justice and innovation; ReCity identifies itself as “Durham’s hub for social impact.” Most importantly, the two spaces believe that successful and sustained impact is rooted in collaboration.

“Both ReCity and CUBE are much more than physical spaces. They’re communities built by people who are excited to help each other,” said Melissa Carrier, Director of the Office of Social Innovation at UNC-CH.

Kathryn Thacker, ReCity’s Operations Manager, echoed Carrier’s enthusiasm about CUBE and ReCity’s mission match. She believes the partnership will benefit both the student entrepreneurs and ReCity’s community of professionals.

“It is a fundamental value at ReCity that everyone brings expertise and wisdom to the table. We’re going to reconstruct the narrative that young people are only to be coached,” Thacker said. “Together, we’ll create an ecosystem where collective, mutual sharing is the norm that leads to holistic growth for students and the existing social impact community.”

The missions of CUBE and ReCity also both center the importance of making social entrepreneurship accessible. Although diversity is a proven driver of increased innovation and financial success, coworking spaces remain owned and dominated by white males.

Executive Director Rob Shields (‘07) co-founded ReCity in 2014 with the ultimate goal of bringing together a transformative network of local people and programs that represent the socio-economic, racial, and gender spectrum of Durham. Similarly, CUBE strives to unite a cohort of Carolina students with diverse personal and professional backgrounds from across campus each year.

ReCity’s vision is to build thriving communities, rooted in justice.

When Carrier and Shields met in 2019, they explored a partnership between their physical co-working spaces in Chapel Hill and Durham. Needless to say, when they reconnected in April 2020, things had changed. With mandatory social distancing regulations in effect, the pair reassessed what “co-working” really meant.

“COVID-19 has helped us think through how to support our students no matter where they are. It’s interesting how the timing of this partnership has worked out,” Carrier said.

Despite the social distancing regulations in effect, the two agreed that this summer is an unexpectedly opportune time to begin working together. Shields and the ReCity team recently launched a new online platform that gives ReCity members access to virtual capacity-building workshops and networking sessions. The partnership will also allow CUBE’s 11 new ventures to access ReCity’s powerful new mentorship network.

“Connecting and building relationships is really hard right now, which is why we’re so excited about ReCity Connects, a new smart-matching platform where ReCity partners can submit questions and be connected to experts in the community that have answers,” explained Thacker. “From strategic planning to writing a mission statement to organizing a social media campaign, we know CUBE participants have questions and we are excited to get them answers from people who care.”

During a season of unanticipated roadblocks and uncertainty, CUBE innovators are not putting their venture development on pause. Many feel even more motivated to tackle the social injustices that COVID-19 is uncovering. ReCity’s mentorship platform, educational workshops, and networking opportunities will enable Carolina’s ecosystem of innovators to continue spreading across University and county lines.

“Our students are being given an extraordinary opportunity to connect their work with the needs of communities beyond the physical University,” said Jaki Bonilla, CUBE’s Program Director. “This partnership is opening up exciting doors for our students to solve problems and find solutions.”

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