Duke Energy Foundation delivers bright futures for Florida students with $641,000 in energy and engineering education grants

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  • 22 Florida-based organizations receive funds to enhance educational experiences for all students.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Duke Energy Foundation and Duke Energy Florida have awarded more than $641,000 in grants to support a wide range of K-12 initiatives focused on energy and engineering education, as well as programs serving underrepresented, low-income and diverse students.

This year’s grant recipients range from local education foundations to community organizations that provide unique learning opportunities for students, especially those with diverse backgrounds and abilities, to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts.

“By investing in our local education foundations and the programs that ensure all students have access to robust STEM education, we are helping to create a vibrant economy,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “Duke Energy is proud to support these programs and help even more students gain the hands-on, essential skills needed to pursue energy and engineering careers and become the next generation of leaders and problem solvers.”

Especially during the last few years, local education foundations throughout the state have been a vital resource and bridge between schools and communities, working to close opportunity and learning gaps as a result of the pandemic.

The Duke Energy Foundation funding will support the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations’ efforts to build capacity among the local education foundations and help them understand and meet the demands of the dynamic and evolving workforce, building students' skills, knowledge and literacy in STEM fields.

“We believe strong local education foundations can engage communities in closing opportunity gaps for students, which is particularly important right now as we know many vulnerable students have gotten behind during the pandemic,” said Mary Chance, Consortium of Florida Education Foundations president/chief executive officer. “Support from the Duke Energy Foundation directly impacts our ability to elevate Florida’s education foundations by providing opportunities for them to connect with one another, learn new ideas and strengthen their capacity to innovate learning and power the potential of all students.”

Another grant recipient working to expand its STEM education and accessibility programs is the Orlando Science Center (OSC).

“Orlando Science Center is committed to serving the Orlando community with high-quality, culturally relevant STEM programming,” said JoAnn Newman, president and CEO of Orlando Science Center. “We understand the intense need for diversity and inclusion within STEM careers, and the support of Duke Energy Foundation allows us to provide opportunities that empower and encourage our youth. Through the free field trips provided by this funding, students throughout Central Florida will collaborate and create, building confidence and a deeper connection to STEM.”

Support from the Duke Energy Foundation will assist OSC in providing third-fifth grade students, with a focus on Title I schools in Central Florida, the opportunity to experience impactful and engaging field trips to the Science Center with a focus on the engineering design process.

This year’s grants were awarded to the following organizations:


Consortium of Florida Education Foundations – $50,000. The Consortium of Florida Education Foundations will support local education foundations in Duke Energy Florida’s footprint in understanding the local landscape of career/technical education, college/career readiness and STEM education needs and increase knowledge of capacity building tools for organizational stability.

Tampa Bay area

Citrus County Education Foundation Inc. – $36,000. Funding will support the Citrus County Education Foundation Inc.’s Foundation for Success Mini Grants program, Engineering & Energy Learning Experience/Success Camp program and its First Library program. Programs impact all students across all grade levels to increase student achievement.

Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation Inc. – $10,000. The Clearwater Jazz Holiday Foundation will expand its year-round education and outreach programs, including the My Journey with Jazz Program and virtual adaptation thereof, into the school system with a focus on Title I elementary schools. The program is an out-of-classroom music mentoring project in a unique game format designed primarily to deliver a meaningful experience to neighborhood family center after-school/summer programs and now also to elementary school students in the schools.

Hernando County Education Direct Support Organization – $9,500. Funding will support the Hernando County Education Foundation’s Summer Reading Bash program to address a deficit in learning with a priority on learning loss and engineering. Through a special focus on engineering, students will learn about the engineering design process to include identifying and defining the problems, planning and building solutions and optimizing solutions through hands-on activities.

Pasco Education Foundation Inc. – $25,000. The Pasco Education Foundation partners with Pasco County Schools and the Energy and Marine Science Center (EMC) to help improve STEM curriculum and enhance their reach in providing the opportunity for underrepresented, low-income Title I students to visit the EMC.

Pinellas County Education Foundation Inc. – $180,000. The Pinellas County Education Foundation’s STEM Explorer Program provides quality STEM opportunities for all Pinellas County students, including underrepresented, low-income and diverse audiences, which include people of color, women and minorities. Funding will continue to support this program.

Polk Education Foundation and Business Partners – $40,000. Funding will continue to support the Duke Energy Engage! Explore! Do Science! program that offers energy or engineering based mini-grants to fourth-12th grade teachers. In addition, fourth-eighth grade teachers are provided energy- or engineering-based professional development. Funding also allows Polk Education Foundation to continue supporting teachers as they prepare students to be college and career ready.

Greater Orlando area

Educational Foundation of Lake County Inc. – $10,000. Funding will support the Lake County VEX Robotics Scrimmage. Through robotics competitions, students will gain experience in math, coding and engineering in a hands-on environment. The engineering skills that are learned include electrical engineering through solving electrical problems, computer engineering through coding and mechanical engineering.

HAPCO Music Foundation – $10,000. HAPCO will match educators to music and culinary arts programs to enhance the programs with relevant and engaging educational experiences for youths and seniors. Funding will help schools and community centers to provide free additional learning opportunities focused on topics including jazz improv, vocals, drum lines, music sound production, cooking and nutrition, drawing and painting.

Highlands County Education Foundation Inc – $10,000. Highlands County Education Foundation will provide STEM mini-grants to enhance creative and innovative instructional projects in the classroom. The program focuses on grants that specifically impact the areas of engineering and energy.

Foundation for Orange County Public Schools Inc. – $60,000. Funding will support the Duke Energy Teacher Impact Grants, a favorite among the foundation’s teacher grant programs. The grants invite K-12 STEM teachers to propose engaging projects for students to solve real-world STEM challenges that are aligned with Duke Energy’s philanthropic priorities.

Futures Inc. – $30,000. The Futures Inc. EnviroSTEM 2023 program incorporates three individual initiatives to increase student engagement in STEM within Volusia County Public Schools. The first initiative is to provide classroom mini-grants focused on the topics of energy, engineering, environmental education and EnviroSTEM for K-12 teachers. The second initiative is an ongoing project within Volusia County Public Schools, Project Investigating Biomes in Science (IBIS). The third initiative is to provide professional development for teachers to collaboratively learn about energy resources and EnviroSTEM while providing equipment to support face-to-face and virtual modes of education.

Orange County Library System – $5,000. Orange County Library's Summer Reading Program (SRP) combats summer learning loss, a threat that heavily affects lower-income children. The program provides intensive outreach and support to child care organizations in four specific communities. The funding will also provide books for each child, a daily reading goal and ongoing communication and engagement with partners, which include summer camps, child care centers and faith-based camps.

Orlando Science Center Inc. – $50,000. Funding will provide students in grades three through five from Duke Energy’s service area in Central Florida with the opportunity to experience impactful and engaging field trips to the Orlando Science Center with a focus on the engineering design process. Through direct, hands-on exploration and experimentation, each student engineer will delve into challenges that spark a lifetime of STEM interest. Preference will be given to Title I schools.  

Sumter Schools Enhancement Foundation Inc. – $10,000. Funding will support the Energy is Everything Program to provide opportunities for K-12 students to continue previous projects from year to year, as well as the ability to expand science education initiatives that focus on energy. This includes Lego League and Solar Car participation and competitions for middle school students, the purchase of MyOn Science books that directly target K-12 students, hands-on resources for the gifted program, and materials necessary for engineering and energy challenges, such as Science Superstars, Trailblazers, Science Explorers and Stop, Drop, Science.

The Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools – $40,000. Funding will support the foundation’s STEM initiatives, including grants for teachers in Seminole County to enable them to go beyond their budgets and enrich classroom curriculum with hands-on content. Funding will also support the engineering program at Lyman High School, which provides students with the opportunity to learn the engineering design process through hands-on work in a Design and Development class and through a digital electronics curriculum. Additionally, the funding will support the Seminole County Public School’s Physics Bus Program, which travels to every elementary school to provide opportunities for student self-exploration, as well as teacher-facilitated group instruction.

Greater Tallahassee; Gainesville area

Lafayette Penny Foundation Inc. – $10,000. Funding will support the Lafayette High School (LHS) greenhouse. The facility is used for extended lab opportunities for STEM curriculum including vegetable and herb growth to support family and consumer science classes, Project Lead the Way for engineering students to implement their curricular objectives and an on-site pre-vocational work opportunity for self-contained Special School District students.

Jefferson County Education Foundation – $10,000. Funding will support the foundation’s Energizing Education for Everyone II grants for K-12 educators who demonstrate innovative strategy to energize student and parent engagement in the classroom and at home.

Levy County Schools Foundation Inc. – $10,000. Funding will support the purchase of books and supplies, including science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) related books, to stock the foundation's literacy bus that will make its way around the district distributing books for students to keep. The idea is to help students build their own libraries and spark a love for reading so that they continue during the summer months. The bus will also be used as a reward incentive for students who complete reading challenges over the summer.

Madison County Foundation for Excellence in Education – $10,000. Madison County Foundation for Excellence in Education’s Science STEMulation programs will increase student interest in STEM. Using STEM projects in classrooms and hosting STEM challenge fairs, the foundation expects to see an increase in students taking science and math classes along with Power and Energy and Robotics.

Public Education Foundation of Marion County – $15,700. Funding will support the foundation’s STEM OUT program to actively engage students in STEM education, using interactive hands-on activities "stemming" from the Silver River Science Museum, Educational Center and Science Lab. Funding will help support the program and reach students where they are, whether in person via field trip, virtually via the online classroom, or off-site by visiting school locations. A wide variety of unique interactive applications to help teach STEM are available and can be customized to address specific standards and grade levels. The program’s goal is to increase students’ interest in STEM fields, awareness of local environment and resources and understanding of the nature of science, specifically the role of energy.

The Education Foundation of Alachua County Inc. – $10,000. The foundation’s Take Stock in Children STEM Camp seeks to provide low-income, at-risk students enrolled in the Alachua County Take Stock in Children program with access to a summer STEM camp that has a specific focus on engineering concepts and careers.

Duke Energy Florida

Duke Energy Florida, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, owns a diverse generation mix of natural gas, coal and renewables, providing about 10,200 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 1.9 million customers in a 13,000-square-mile service area.

Duke Energy Foundation                              

The Duke Energy Foundation provides more than $30 million annually in philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The foundation is funded by Duke Energy shareholders.

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 8.2 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, and collectively own 50,000 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 28,000 people.

Duke Energy is executing an aggressive clean energy transition to achieve its goals of net-zero methane emissions from its natural gas business and at least a 50% carbon reduction from electric generation by 2030 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The 2050 net-zero goals also include Scope 2 and certain Scope 3 emissions. In addition, the company is investing in major electric grid enhancements and energy storage, and exploring zero-emission power generation technologies such as hydrogen and advanced nuclear.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2022 “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: Audrey Stasko
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