Connect with us

NC State Football

Dave & Sara Doeren Donate $1.25 million to Establish New Program at NC State



A generous gift from Dave and Sara Doeren will establish a new initiative at NC State to support students with executive functioning challenges and those who are neurodivergent.

Their $1.25 million commitment is among the largest made by a college football coach to his NCAA-member institution. Dave Doeren has been NC State’s head coach since the 2013 season.

“As a public, land-grant institution, NC State is committed to enrolling and empowering a wide range of students,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said. “We are honored to collaborate with the Doerens to provide additional support for talented students, so they can think and do to their full potential. This gift truly reinforces our core values of community and inclusion.

“Philanthropy helps our university innovate and achieve an even higher level of greatness. We thank the Doerens for being leaders for the entire Wolfpack and for establishing this meaningful family legacy.”

The new program being launched through the Doeren Family Fund will be called OnePack Empowered and will benefit NC State students who face challenges with executive function skills critical to academic success, such as organization, planning, setting priorities, task completion and decision making. Autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are just two of the diagnoses that could be linked to challenges in this realm, but students with these challenges also might have no formal diagnosis.

With a focus on one-on-one mentoring, individual support plans, career readiness and additional specialized assistance, the program is being designed to bolster academic and personal success and ensure students can complete their degrees.

The Doerens’ commitment will pilot the program for five years, serving up to 50 students at a time. They hope to inspire other donors to join them in contributing to OnePack Empowered as a sustainable source of support and guidance for an expanding number of participants over the next several years.

“This is about leveling the playing field so students can chase their dreams,” Dave Doeren said. “It’s about hope and creating a safe place for this population of students to go and get their needs met. We are hopeful that idea resonates with a lot of alumni and other people connected to NC State.

“It’s something the school needs and the students need, and God’s given us the ability to help,” he added.

NC State’s Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) will oversee OnePackEmpowered and staff are preparing for a spring 2024 launch. Doneka Scott, vice chancellor and dean of DASA, expressed gratitude to the Doerens for recognizing a gap and stepping up to bridge it.

“This is an amazing opportunity for our institution and especially for our students who will benefit from this wraparound program,” Scott said. “The first goals in our university and DASA strategic plans are centered on students and ensuring their success. We are so grateful to the Doerens for their vision of investing in this underserved student population.

“We know this added support will change lives.”

Boo Corrigan, NC State’s director of athletics, also praised the Doerens for setting an example of giving back.

“Dave and Sara’s generosity, commitment and vision for this program will benefit so many students for years to come. I’m excited to see the impact of OnePack Empowered and I am so proud that he is the leader of our football program,” Corrigan said.

The gift represents a next step in the Doerens’ longtime, passionate advocacy and support for people with disabilities. That passion has been near and dear to their hearts, dating back two decades to their own son Jacob’s diagnosis placing him on the autism spectrum as a preschooler.

At the time, Doeren served on the football coaching staff at the University of Kansas. Jacob, the oldest of the family’s three boys, seemed to demonstrate a few developmental delays.

“We spent three or four hours watching behind one-way glass while doctors ran all of these tests,” Doeren said. “Afterward, they told us that we needed to be prepared for our son to never live outside our home or to never have a job. I was so angry. I told the doctor, ‘You have no idea what my son is capable of. How dare you limit him?’

“Since then we’ve been on a journey where we’ve gotten to meet some incredible people, but also some incredibly limiting people, situations and labels.”

As challenging as navigating grades K-12 can be for a family with a child who has disabilities, academic, social and employment opportunities can become even more limited by the time that child graduates from high school.

The Doerens have been vital advocates behind the launch of 321 Coffee, started by two Park Scholars and staffed by individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and for efforts like hiring employees with special needs in the Murphy Center’s dining operation. The NC State football team regularly interacts with and supports groups such as GiGi’s Playhouse, which provides programming and support for people with Down syndrome.

Most of the Doerens’ personal philanthropy also has been centered on efforts to enhance opportunities for youth with special needs, such as gifts toward inclusive middle-school athletics programming.

After graduating from high school in Wake County, Jacob attended Louisburg College. The Learning Partners program there helped him navigate note-taking, time management, study skills and the like. He graduated with a 3.75 grade-point average and solid preparation to apply successfully to Appalachian State.

“The kindest people there at Louisburg just poured into our son,” Doeren said.

At Appalachian, where he’s currently a junior studying sustainable energy and technology, Jacob has benefited from a similar program called As-U-R. Weekly sessions with a mentor have proven vital to managing class assignments, advocating for himself with professors or asking for a few accommodations when needed.

The Doerens initiated conversations several months ago with Woodson and others at the university about how they could support something similar here.

“Jacob is doing so well,” Sara Doeren said. “We just want other students to have the same opportunities. It made sense to help make that happen at NC State.”

“At some point, I definitely thought, ‘It’s too bad the school I work at, with so many alumni, in the capital city of North Carolina and so many young people who could benefit in Wake County alone, doesn’t have something like this,'” Dave Doeren said. “Why wouldn’t we be at the forefront? I was very thankful Chancellor Woodson understood the need and opportunity at NC State.”

Kesha Reed, associate vice chancellor and associate dean in DASA, is excited about OnePack Empowered. Reed brings expertise in underserved student populations and disability support programming. “There is a definite need for this,” she said.

The application process is being developed. Admission to OnePack Empowered will be individualized, inclusive and open, Reed said, with students not required to have a formal diagnosis registered through the university’s Disability Resource Office. However, for context, she said that of the 1,845 students currently registered with the office, 57% could potentially have challenges with executive functioning.

“We’re not talking about students being admitted [NC State] through a special process,” Doeren said. “We’re talking about students who have been accepted to the university, who are very academically capable but might benefit from something as simple as a mentor to walk consistently alongside them. This is a special group of people who too often get labeled and limited. Instead of avenues for success they get roadblocks.

“I’d like to open people’s eyes to the fact that with just a little extra support, a lot of kids can be wildly successful.”

Much of the new funding for OnePack Empowered will go toward adding dedicated staff and training them. Reed said the program will be able to utilize and leverage an existing structure within DASA that includes the Academic Success Center, Disability Resource Office, Advising and Exploratory Studies as well as take advantage of embedded resources such as counselors, tutors and academic and career advisors.

OnePack Empowered will be housed under the umbrella of the Career Development Center, and its career-preparation emphasis will be fairly unique.

A cornerstone will be carefully trained student mentors who will be paired with participants as role models and links to resources. Parent engagement will be incorporated into the program as a vital element as well.

“We’re looking at holistic support that’s really helping students build that self-confidence that they can be partners in working toward their success,” Reed said. “We’re guiding them in that process. We want to build a community that students want to be part of, where they can be excited and engaged.”

Reed and other staff members are in the midst of hiring a program manager to direct OnePack Empowered and to plan for additional staffing. They have developed a framework that includes four learning outcomes for students:

  • Identify, prioritize and use campus resources that support their NC State success.
  • Develop a success plan to accomplish their academic and career goals.
  • Evaluate successful and challenging experiences to guide decision-making.
  • Develop a sense of community within the OnePack Empowered cohort.

In addition to the program at Appalachian State that focuses on students with executive functioning challenges, Reed said there are two other UNC System institutions providing individualized support for students with specific disabilities: STEPP at East Carolina University and The Learning Center at UNC-Chapel Hill, both of which focus on ADHD and other specific disabilities.

“One of the things that college is supposed to do is prepare you to succeed in the real world,” Doeren said. “We’re failing a lot of kids in our country. The biggest leading factor is people not believing in themselves or having someone else to believe in them. That’s what OnePack Empowered is about: caring about this part of our community.”

Notify of
oldest most Upvoted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 months ago

So proud to have a coach like Doeren. Hope he’s around for a long, long time.

2 months ago

Incredible! The Doeren’s are an inspiration.

NC State Football

Dave Doeren Led the Hurricanes to a Game 1 Victory Over Devils



NC State Head Football Coach Dave Doeren helped lead the Carolina Hurricanes to a Game 1 victory over the New Jersey Devils in Game 1 of the 2nd Round of the playoffs. Doeren was ferocious in sounding the siren.

The Canes demolished the Devils 5-1 last night. Go Canes!

Continue Reading

NC State Football

Which NC State Players Signed with NFL Teams as Undrafted Free Agents?



Chandler Zavala was the only player from NC State that was drafted this past weekend in the 2023 NFL Draft. So which Wolfpack players signed with NFL teams as undrafted free agents?

NC State has quite a few players playing in the NFL that went undrafted: Defensive Tackle T.Y. McGill, Running Back Zonovan Knight, and Wide Receiver Jakobi Meyers.

The Chargers organization must have liked what was going on in Raleigh, signing 3 Wolfpack players as undrafted free agents.

The Bolts signed Safety Tanner Ingle.

Also heading to Los Angeles is Defensive Back Tyler Baker-Williams.

Los Angeles might have found their kicker of the future in Christopher Dunn.

Linebacker Isaiah Moore has signed with the reigning Super Bowl Champs in Kansas City.

Moore is joining former Wolfpacker Joe Thuney in KC.

Wide Receiver Thayer Thomas has signed with the Minnesota Vikings.

Thomas is joining former Wolfpacker Garrett Bradbury in Minnesota.

Thayer’s brother, Linebacker Drake Thomas signed with the Las Vegas Raiders.

Thomas joins former Wolfpacker’s Jakobi Meyers (WR) and A.J. Cole (P).

Cornerback Derrek Pitts has signed with Tampa Bay.

Defensive Tackle Cory Durden has signed with the Detroit Lions.

Durden joins former Wolfpacker Alim McNeil, who also plays Defensive Tackle.

Finally, Punter Shane McDonough is a rookie mini-camp invitee.


Continue Reading

NC State Football

Chandler Zavala was NC State’s Lone Draft Pick in 2023



Surprisingly, NC State only had one player taken in the 2023 NFL Draft. Unsurprisingly, Offensive Lineman Chandler Zavala was that singular player.

The Carolina Panthers drafted Zavala in the 4th round with the 114th overall pick.

This marks the second year in a row that the Panthers have selected an offensive linemen from NC State, drafting Ikem Ekwonu with the 6th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Zavala and Ekwonu played beside one another in Raleigh on the left side, and there’s a chance that they will eventually do the same thing on Sunday’s for Carolina.

Zavala is coming off of a season where he earned 1st Team All-ACC honors, and didn’t give up a single sack.

Continue Reading

NC State Football

NC State’s Demie Sumo-Karngbaye Enters Transfer Portal



NC State Running Back Demie Sumo-Karngbaye has officially entered the Transfer Portal. As a Redshirt Freshman this past season, he rushed for 305 yards (5.5 yards per carry) and 3 touchdowns. Sumo-Karngbaye also had 12 receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Demie was electric to start the season, but battled injuries all season long. In conference play, he was limited, only rushing the ball 16 times for 53 yards (3.3 yards per carry) with 0 touchdowns.

There’s no denying that the Wolfpack Running Back room is crowded. From the beginning of the season, Sumo-Karngbaye shared carries with Jordan Houston, who is once again returning this season. After Sumo-Karngbaye continued to miss action due to injuries, True Freshman Michael Allen stepped in and proved to be more than ready for the spotlight, averaging 5.1 yards per carry (53 carries), with most of those carries coming against ACC opponents. Not to mention the fact that True Freshman Kendrick Raphael will look to make an instant impact this Fall.

With all of this being said, I don’t get this move. At the end of the day, every young man has to make the decision they think is best, but Sumo-Karngbaye had every reason to to expect significant playing time in 2023, as long as he could prove to stay healthy.

Continue Reading