Duke Energy boosts local giving; awards $217,500 to 16 inventive educational initiatives in Greater Cincinnati

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  • Grants focus on programs aimed at reversing academic declines due to in-person learning gaps among K-12 students.

  • Funding also boosts strategic programs that advance energy, engineering, environmental education.

  • Duke Energy Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 million in K-12 education grants to Greater Cincinnati groups in past five years.

CINCINNATI – Students across southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky are benefiting from various education programs made possible through $217,500 in grants from Duke Energy.

Most of the funding for the 16 local grantees is aimed at reversing academic declines due to recent in-person learning gaps among K-12 students across Greater Cincinnati. This includes the common “summer slide” and emerging “COVID slide.”

“Across the board, we’re continuing to invest in organizations and programs that are driving positive change in communities across this region,” said Amy Spiller, president of Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky. “These education grants are vital now more than ever, as many students may have fallen behind academically, emotionally or both due to the pandemic and remote learning.”

Over the past five years, Duke Energy, through its Duke Energy Foundation arm, has awarded 80 K-12 education grants, totaling more than $1.8 million, to game-changing groups and programs in Ohio and Kentucky.

K-12 education grant recipients in Kentucky, Ohio

The following Greater Cincinnati organizations received grants as part of Duke Energy’s 2021 K-12 education grant cycle.


  • Boone County Schools was awarded $10,000 to support its student energy and STEM teams across the district, which serves more than 20,000 K-12 students. These teams study how energy is used in school buildings and help implement programs to reduce energy consumption, among other activities. The extracurricular opportunities aim to increase awareness among students of the potential education and career opportunities in various STEM fields.
  • This summer, more than 800 students from Covington Independent Public Schools attended Camp Covington, which received a $10,000 grant from Duke Energy. The annual camp, a partnership between the school district, Covington Partners and other local groups, provides academic support, enrichment programs and fitness activities at no cost to students or their families. This summer’s program was specially designed to address the learning loss many students experienced as a result of virtual learning. It also served students’ mental health needs as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
  • Northern Kentucky Education Council was granted $15,000 to train volunteers for its One-to-One reading and math program for students in first through third grades. One-to-One is a post-pandemic strategy to reverse the “COVID slide” for children who are struggling with learning loss and gaps in achievement. Coaches tutor children weekly to help put them on a desired trajectory in their reading and math skills while improving attitudes, self-efficacy and motivation. The coaches also engage parents in their children’s literacy learning by teaching effective reading strategies that kids need to be successful readers.
  • Northern Kentucky University received a $30,000 grant for its Center for Integrative Natural Science & Mathematics (CINSAM). Established in 2000, CINSAM offers professional development for teachers of fourth through eighth grade students across Northern Kentucky. While the training typically aims to enhance the teaching, learning and application of STEM topics, the curriculum for the 2021-22 school year addresses the specific needs of students who may be behind academically due to the constraints of recent remote and socially distanced learning.


  • Local nonprofit Adventure Crew was the recipient of a $10,000 grant from Duke Energy. The grant dollars will help fund the organization’s monthly outings that connect teens from urban areas to various outdoor nature activities. Each activity is free for participants and exposes teens to the region’s natural resources to introduce new experiences and spark a lifelong passion for the outdoors.
  • B The Keeper, which uses bee honey to raise awareness and funding for sustainability projects throughout Cincinnati, received a $10,000 Duke Energy grant. The money will help bring B The Keeper’s Powerful Pollinators program to two local high schools. The program involves installing pollinator habitats at the schools and using them as hands-on outdoor laboratories to educate students about pollinators, native biodiversity and career paths rooted in regional sustainability efforts.
  • Butler County Educational Service Center will apply its $7,500 grant from Duke Energy to design professional development modules for teachers. The focus of the modules is to build teachers’ skills in addressing their students’ learning loss in math due to the school interruptions, quarantines and student anxiety resulting from the pandemic. 
  • The Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library was awarded a $10,000 grant from Duke Energy for its STEAM Challenge summer program, which is designed to provide more than 25 hours of free experiences and activities to local children over an eight-week summer session. The program aims to provide engaging experiences that also help participants retain the skills they gain during the schoolyear.
  • In response to the demand for interesting and accessible educational opportunities in the fields of science, technology, reading, engineering, arts and math (STREAM), Cincinnati Art Museum is developing the “STREAMing into the Community” program with the help of a $10,000 Duke Energy grant. The program will feature one-hour virtual and hands-on programs for students of all ages – with a primary goal of working with underserved populations. Program participants will engage with a museum educator who will use artworks to inspire students to explore STREAM subjects and make interdisciplinary connections to the world around them.
  • Cincinnati Center City Development Corp.’s (3CDC) Ziegler Park Summer Camp received a $20,000 grant from Duke Energy to help extend its programming to 10 weeks in 2021. The camp offers safe, nurturing and positive experiences for local children, 70% of whom are from low-income households. Each summer, campers participate in fun activities that incorporate exercise and encourage healthy lifestyles, as well as educational programs that encourage brain development, like STEM and nature programs and chess tournaments.
  • Duke Energy presented Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with a $25,000 grant to support the Imagination Library program in Hamilton County. This program aims to foster early literacy and improved kindergarten readiness by mailing one book per month to kids up to 5 years old. Approximately 22,000 of the 54,000 eligible children in Hamilton County are currently enrolled in the program, which is administered by Cincinnati Children’s.
  • Since 2015, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati has hosted summer tutoring programs to help its students avoid “summer slide.” Given the pandemic’s impacts on all students, the organization’s leaders knew they would need to do more in 2021. So, the group used its $10,000 grant from Duke Energy to expand its individual and small group tutoring programs, which help students improve or maintain their current reading levels. In addition, the tutoring allows students to remain connected to their overall learning goals – and spend less time on relearning lost skills due to the pandemic’s impact on in-person schooling in 2020 and 2021.
  • Research and test results show a disturbing achievement gap in math skills among children in underserved schools across Greater Cincinnati. In an effort to close the gap, iSPACE will apply its $10,000 Duke Energy grant to bring its Making More Mathletes program to 1,600 students at 10 underserved schools in the region. iSPACE, a nonprofit that educates students and teachers on a variety of STEM topics, will conduct 20 Making More Mathletes sessions in 66 classrooms throughout the 2021-22 school year. A previous pilot demonstrated the program helped students learn new math skills, practice concrete strategies for solving problems, improve spatial relations, increase self-efficacy in math and improve STEM engagement.
  • Duke Energy awarded Miami University a $10,000 grant that helped enable local high school students enrolled in the university’s MU TEACH program to attend Summer Scholars – an intensive two-week residential program for academically talented rising high school juniors and seniors. MU TEACH is a rigorous four-year college readiness program for underrepresented and underserved populations interested in teaching careers. Students completing the high school program are put on a path for admission into Miami’s teacher education programs. MU TEACH graduates who complete Miami University’s teacher education program receive priority hiring within Cincinnati Public Schools.
  • More than 8,000 children experience homelessness in Greater Cincinnati each year. And only 25% are expected to graduate high school. In order to help address the staggering rate of childhood homelessness and the educational barriers that these students face, UpSpring was awarded a $10,000 grant from Duke Energy for its Summer 360° program. Summer 360° is a six-week day camp that provides structure for continued learning and academic skill-set retention during the critical summer months for children experiencing homelessness in southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky.
  • Warren County Educational Service Center received a $20,000 Duke Energy grant for professional development opportunities for its staff and those in partnering districts. Through the training, participants will increase their understanding, knowledge and skills connected to creating safe, nurturing and equitable classroom environments while supporting students’ social-emotional learning skills. In turn, students will also have training and activities to help them develop their skills and empathy when working with people with differing values and backgrounds.

Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky

Duke Energy Ohio/Kentucky, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, provides electric service to about 870,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in a 3,000-square-mile service area, and natural gas service to approximately 542,000 customers.

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of America’s largest energy holding companies. Its electric utilities serve 7.9 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 51,000 megawatts of energy capacity. Its natural gas unit serves 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The company employs 27,500 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy strategy to create a smarter energy future for its customers and communities – with goals of at least a 50 percent carbon reduction by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The company is a top U.S. renewable energy provider, on track to own or purchase 16,000 megawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2025. The company also is investing in major electric grid upgrades and expanded battery storage, and exploring zero-emitting power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2021 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ “America’s Best Employers” list. More information is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos and videos. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Lee Freedman
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