Our History

Our History

The Emily Krzyzewski Center opened its doors in 2006 as a proud member of the Durham community. Our 29,000 square foot building, located a few short blocks from both downtown Durham and Duke University, was intended to fulfill a need in a community in the midst of a vibrant revitalization effort. While buildings were being renovated and new ventures were being launched elsewhere in Durham, the Emily K Center pledged, as its primary mission, to serve academically-focused, low-income students in out-of-school programming designed to help them achieve in school, gain entry to college, and break the cycle of poverty in their families. In addition to this educational K to College Model, the Center's meeting rooms, gymnasium, and performance stage would allow other groups in Durham to carry out their missions of excellence, contributing ultimately to the overall betterment of our community.

As the needs and opportunities in Durham change and evolve, the staff at the Emily K Center will maintain our commitment to fulfilling our mission and creating meaningful partnerships. We will continue to be an organization of excellence, and help others do the same. Building Scholars – Changing Lives.

Our Founder

Our Founder

Coach Mike Krzyzewski is the founder and inspiration of the Emily K Center.

Undoubtedly, his mother, Emily, is his inspiration. A Polish immigrant who grew up in western Pennsylvania, Emily raised her family in a poor, racially diverse neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side. Bill, his father, was an elevator operator and Emily scrubbed floors at night in the Chicago Athletic Club to help provide support for Mike and his brother, Bill. 

His mother’s devotion and love, coupled with her amazing work ethic, provided young Mike with an example he would follow the rest of his life. Emily also taught her sons to take advantage of opportunities wherever they presented themselves. Mike was a fixture in his neighborhood, particularly at a community center where he and his family enjoyed great support. The community center afforded the young people and their families a chance to hone skills, make friends, and strengthen neighborhood ties – all key components to successful individuals and successful communities. 

For all those reasons, when Coach Krzyzewski, an equally proud resident of the Durham community, was presented with the idea of a community center years ago, he embraced it wholeheartedly and welcomed the opportunity to name it in honor of his mother, who passed away in 1996. Coach K and his entire family, among many new and treasured friends, are as committed to the Emily K Center as his parents and the North Side community center were committed to him. 


904 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham, NC 27701, 919-680-0308, and info@emilyk.org
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