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Double Discovery Center Helps NYC Youth for 40 Years
Olger C. Twyner, III, DDC Executive Director; Bill Perkins, New York City Council Member; Gerald Sherwin, DDC Board of Friends Chair; Roger Lehecka, DDC founder and Board of Friends.

For four decades the Double Discovery Center (DDC) has been a source of inspiration for low-income, first-generation college-bound youth in New York City. The DDC targets students at risk of not completing high school or entering college and offers academic, career, college, financial aid and personal development services year-round with the goal of increasing the rate of high school graduation, college entrance and college completion. Of the 147 students in DDC's Class of 2004, 100 percent graduated from high school, and 97 percent were admitted to college.

The project is the first of its kind in the nation and was founded in 1965 by a group of Columbia undergraduates, led by Roger Lehecka (CC'67), Steven Weinberg (CC '66), Arnold Saltzman (CC '36), and Professor of History James P. Shenton. That first summer the program assisted 160 students. Over the years, more than 30,000 students have benefited from DDC, and this year 130 volunteers served as tutors, mentors, instructors and facilitators.


Participants enjoy the activities at the 40th anniversary celebration.

As the name "double discovery" implies, an additional goal of the program is to facilitate interaction and a common understanding among DDC students and the students, faculty and staff at Columbia and to remove barriers such as age, gender, race and religion that often divide society.

"The Center has been successful because it truly has been a double discovery," says Olger C. Twyner, III. " Columbia students have been intricately involved with helping young people from the community achieve their dreams."

DDC celebrated its 40 th anniversary on Saturday, June 11, with a barbeque, music and games on the South Lawn. Bill Perkins, New York City Council Member, Gerald Sherwin, chair of the board of the Double Discovery Center, Olger C. Twyner, III, executive director of the Double Discovery Center, and Ayana Mickel, a 1995 alumna of DDC's Upward Bound program, offered remarks to the crowd.

The Double Discovery Center is home to two federally-funded programs: Upward Bound, which was established in 1965, and Talent Search, instituted in 1977. Upward Bound offers more than 165 high school students year-round academic, career, college and counseling services, as well as a six-week summer residential academic program on campus.


Talent Search provides academic, high school, college and career preparation services to more than 800 middle school, high school and young adult students annually. Middle school students attend tutoring and workshops after school and educational trips on the weekends. In the summer, there is a full day program of classes, tutoring, special interest clubs and trips on campus. Throughout the year, high school students attend PSAT/SAT preparation, as well as workshops and personal development forums and weekend conferences.

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Published: Jun 16, 2005
Last modified: Jun 15, 2005

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