Pioneer Scholars

Pioneer Scholars ensures that our elementary and middle school students are building academic skills, achieving in school, and laying the foundation for future college success.

Program Description

Pioneer Scholars serves students in first through eighth grades. First through sixth grade students participate in highly-structured tutoring each and every day of the academic school year to develop and accelerate their skills. The instruction is delivered by licensed and qualified teachers and well-supported volunteers in an environment that demands high performance and commitment. To encourage developmentally appropriate extracurricular involvement and leadership activities, seventh and eighth grade students participate in this intensive academic instruction three days per week.

Students continue to sharpen their skills during the summer through an academic bridge program and other activities, including theater and basketball camps. Additional growth opportunities, such as career exploration events, technology skills instruction, a math and science mentoring program, and a College and Career Club for middle school students provide our students with even broader skills and experiences. Parent empowerment sessions are also held for families so that they are well prepared to support their students.   

Eligibility & Application Process  

Rising first through eighth graders who reside and attend school in Durham County and whose family
income falls within federal low income guidelines are eligible to apply. Students are often referred to then Center through nominations from school staff, community members, and various community agencies. Families are also welcome to ‘self-nominate’ their student(s).

Students with strong academic commitment (mostly A/4’s and B/3’s in school), robust family support, and demonstrated financial need are considered strong candidates. Additionally, students must demonstrate personal character, work-ethic, and integrity as evidenced by teacher recommendations, personal statements (for middle school applicants), and an interview process. 


Now Accepting Applications for the 2019-2020 Academic Year

Pioneer Scholars Program Now Accepting Applications for the 2019-2020 Academic Year
The Emily K Center is excited to announce that its Pioneer Scholars program is now accepting
applications for the 2019-2020 academic year. Please note that the application deadline is Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

If you are interested in learning more about the program, please consider joining us for a Prospective Family Information Session on either April 8 or April 15 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. You will have the opportunity to speak with program staff, as well as take a tour of the Center. Please e-mail Nephitearya Bailey with any questions.

Application Information
Qualifying families may access the application through the following links:

Families may check for eligibility using this guide: English | Español

Printable Elementary Application in English

Printable Middle School Application in English 

Printable Elementary Application in Spanish

Printable Middle School Application in Spanish

Online Teacher Recommendation Form

Online Community/ Non-Teacher Recommendation Form (Rising 6th grade applicants only)


Please return completed, printed applications to: 
The Emily K Center
Pioneer Scholars Program 
Attn: Nephitearya Bailey 
904 W Chapel Hill St 
Durham, NC 27701

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