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SUITLAND — NBA star Kevin Durant returned to his hometown to open his long-awaited Durant Center, a state-of-the-art facility offering academic, financial and social and emotional resources to help Prince George’s County students prepare for college, on Jan. 22.
“When my foundation partnered with College Track last year, we said from day one we wanted it to live inside a facility we could develop for Prince George’s County,” Durant said. “The opening of the Durant Center is truly a dream come true for my family and me.”
Located near Suitland High School, the Durant Center was created through the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation (KDCF), the basketball player’s nonprofit organization which he founded in 2013 with the mission of enriching the lives of at-risk youth from low-income backgrounds.
The foundation has donated over $13 million since its founding and has supported initiatives dealing with youth athletics, organizations serving youth facing homelessness, the renovation of 19 basketball courts across the world and giving educational opportunities to low-income and first-generation college students. Because of his outreach efforts through his foundation and beyond, Durant received last year’s Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award.
To make the Durant Center possible, the KDCF partnered with Prince George’s County Public Schools and College Track, a college completion program that empowers students from underserved communities to complete college.
College Track serves students across the country; Aurora and Denver, Colorado; New Orleans, Louisiana; six cities in California including Los Angeles and San Francisco; and now, the D.C. Metro Area. The program supports students from ninth grade through their college graduation to ensure that the students not only graduate but are equipped to succeed in today’s economy and participates in society.
Since its founding in the late 90s, College Track has served thousands of students per year, and 96 percent of them get accepted into a four-year college, a rate more than double the national average.
Seeing the immense success of College Track students, two years ago, Durant announced his own 10-year, $10 million commitment to bringing the College Track program to Prince George’s County and the Durant Center is the culmination of years of hard work.
“College Track’s model works because we know that every young person deserves the chance to thrive at their full potential,” said College Track CEO Elissa Salas. “Kevin Durant knows first-hand the combined power of opportunity, persistence and ambitious dreams. Him standing with our students as they embark on their college completion journey sends a powerful message: the resources, support and community that catalyze lifelong success belong to all of us.”
On opening day, the Durant Center welcomed an inaugural class of 69 students into the program, the class of 2026, with a special ceremony that included remarks from County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, PGCPS Interim CEO Monica Goldson, College Track alumnus, 2015 Howard University graduate Marcus Simpson and Durant himself.
“We are so grateful to Kevin Durant, his mother Wanda Durant, the Kevin Durant Charity Foundation and the College Track team for their continued investment in Prince George’s County students,” Alsobrooks said.
“Education is the civil rights movement of our time, and The Durant Center will go a long way in creating a positive impact on that movement here in Prince George’s. The inaugural class of College Track students from our county will definitely go on to do impressive things, and we look forward to showing the nation why we take pride in our students.”
According to College Track, although Prince George’s County is one of the largest counties in Maryland only 36 percent of its citizens hold a bachelor’s degree but by 2020, an estimated 70 percent of jobs in the region will require a bachelor’s degree. As the first of its kind on the east coast, the Durant Center will serve the students in the Prince George’s County tremendously.
“I think it’s outstanding that we have a former student of our school system who has now become a major basketball player to come back and give back to the same community who helped to raise him,” Goldson said.
“We have a lot of partnerships with universities. Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) provides reduced tuition to many of our students, so we do find that we have partners, but for an individual partner to do what he has done; you find those few and far between.”
Durant said he wanted to bring a sense of community to his hometown and give students the encouragement they needed to succeed.
“I appreciate all the love and support, this is the start of something, but I’m looking for this to be here for a while and sustain for a while so enjoy this,” Durant said. “Like I told them earlier, it might have our name on the side of the building, but it’s your home. So enjoy it, make it yours and the future starts here.”