Duke Energy delivers $170,000 in grants to organizations that preserve, enhance North Carolina’s natural resources

Share This Story

  • Investments range from tree planting and wetlands preservation to providing equitable park access and farmland for people of color.

  • Since 2015, Duke Energy Foundation has awarded more than 150 nature grants in North Carolina totaling nearly $7 million.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Duke Energy Foundation has awarded $170,000 in nature grants to support a wide range of environmental initiatives across North Carolina, funding stewardship and educational programs that help communities protect their natural resources and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Since 2015, the Duke Energy Foundation has awarded more than 150 nature grants in North Carolina totaling nearly $7 million, investing in and working beside environmentally focused community partners to protect and increase access to the state’s natural resources.

“As we move ahead with North Carolina’s clean energy transition, we remain committed to investing in organizations that help ensure future generations enjoy our state’s amazing natural heritage,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “By supporting nonprofits that are delivering meaningful results in this important work, we help preserve natural resources as well as ensure equitable program access in the communities we serve.”

The Nature Conservancy, which has received more than $1.2 million in Duke Energy Foundation funding for a variety of initiatives in North Carolina over the last decade, will use this year’s $25,000 grant to document the history of indigenous and enslaved communities on its preserves in Bladen, Brunswick, Henderson, Hoke, Pender, Robeson and Sampson counties – specifically, TNC’s Dunohoe Bay, Calloway Forest, Green Swamp, Nags Head Woods, Bat Cave and Black River sites.

“This Duke Energy grant will provide resources to research the history of our preserves and gain an understanding of their significance to indigenous people and enslaved Africans,” said Debbie Crane, communications director of The Nature Conservancy’s North Carolina chapter. “When The Nature Conservancy acquires land, we typically focus on its location, biodiversity, riparian corridors and the current landowners. Understanding the deeper history of these preserves is one way the Conservancy can respect and take an initial step toward honoring the native and enslaved communities who came before us.

“Duke Energy has been a valued partner in our work throughout North Carolina for more than a decade,” she continued. “Such year-in, year-out continuity is critical for nonprofits like ours as we help people connect with nature.”

This year’s nature grants were awarded to the following community organizations. Quotes from each on the impact of the grants can be found here.

2021 Nature Grant Recipients


  • Conservation Legacy – $20,000. The Conservation Corps North Carolina program will create a new community weekend program to introduce youth to local natural areas, conservation and camping. Youth will work on projects that preserve parks and trails in or near their communities while they learn about environmental stewardship. The program will strengthen access to natural areas, cultivate an environmental ethic and inspire participants to consider natural resource careers.
  • North Carolina Wildlife Federation – $25,000. NCWF will mobilize 1,200 volunteers to restore habitat in urban and rural communities that are historically marginalized and more likely to experience negative impacts of climate change. By removing 75,000 pounds of litter and planting 3,500 trees and pollinator plants, NCWF will restore habitat, improve water quality, sequester carbon and lower urban temperatures.
  • The Nature Conservancy – $25,000. TNC will work with academic researchers to determine the role of indigenous people and enslaved Africans at its preserves in Dunohoe Bay, Calloway Forest, Green Swamp, Nags Head Woods, Bat Cave, and portions of the Black River that run through Bladen, Sampson and Pender counties, working to better understand and honor those connected to the land before its preservation.


  • Cleveland County Water/Lawndale Park (Cleveland) – $25,000. The planned Lawndale Park is located along the First Broad River on Main Street. The grant will help support the broader development of a riverfront beach, paddle access area, walking loop with picnic platforms, fishing area, open green, restrooms, visitor orientation area, maintenance facility, and parking, providing recreational and educational opportunities for residents and drawing tourism to the area.
  • Sylvan Heights Bird Park (Halifax) – $15,000. Funds will enable an extension of the current Duke Energy Nature Walkway and connect with an existing wetland bridge, helping visitors and K-12 students on educational field trips appreciate and understand the importance of wetlands in the natural environment.
  • The Conservation Fund (Wake) – $25,000. In partnership with the City of Raleigh, Walnut Creek Wetlands Community Partnership, and residents from the Rochester Heights and Biltmore Hills neighborhoods, the grant will help restore native wetland habitat and improve access to the Walnut Creek Wetlands Park, building more equitable park access for these historic African American neighborhoods.
  • TreesCharlotte (Mecklenburg) – $20,000. Funds will support a citywide tree planting program, TreesCharlotte’s popular “everything must go” tree giveaway at the finale of spring planting season, when at least 600 trees will be given away. The event is open to all Charlotteans, who can get two free trees for their yards – a long-term investment in healthy air, energy savings, and stormwater mitigation while creating visual beauty and shade.
  • Triangle Land Conservancy (Triangle) – $15,000. The Good Ground Initiative aims to permanently conserve prime forest and farmland while providing farmers of color with access to affordable land in the Triangle region. The grant will help staff a land acquisition and distribution program that will expand opportunities for people of color to not only acquire land, but also provide for their local communities.

Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The Foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the Foundation can be found at duke-energy.com/foundation.

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 about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on TwitterLinkedInInstagram and Facebook.

Media contact: Bill Norton