Duke Energy Foundation supports resiliency and emergency response efforts with $523,000 in Florida grants

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  • Company invests in 26 Florida-based organizations to strengthen emergency preparedness and disaster response efforts, among other initiatives including diversity, equity and inclusion

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Duke Energy Foundation has awarded $523,000 in grants to support a wide range of emergency preparedness efforts, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives throughout Florida.

Of the 26 Florida-based organizations that received funding, many are among local emergency management departments that provide essential information, resources and support during major emergencies and disasters.

“As we continue our efforts to improve reliability and resiliency within our own operations, Duke Energy Florida remains committed to investing in the organizations that are vital to our communities’ response and recovery efforts during a disaster,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “By supporting the organizations and the people who assist our neighbors during difficult times, we are helping to ensure our communities remain safe, protected and prepared.”

Over the past year and a half, local emergency management departments throughout the state have seen a growing need to provide community services via drive-thru food pantries, testing and vaccination sites, personal protective equipment (PPE) distributions and more.

This year’s Duke Energy Foundation funding will allow Orange County’s Office of Emergency Management to enhance and expand these critical services to more areas, more quickly.

“Orange County government has partnered with Duke Energy Florida to build a Community Resilience Pod to support Duke Energy customers and residents during outages, public emergencies and severe weather days,” said Lauraleigh Avery, Orange County Fire Rescue, Office of Emergency Management emergency manager. “This mobile unit will enhance and expand services to more residents in need by providing adequate tools and infrastructure to strengthen our community, advance prosperity and address poor economic conditions and quality of life issues.”

The Duke Energy Foundation also continues its work to advance social justice and racial equity. Through long-standing relationships with local organizations, the company is helping to make significant impacts across the state.

One example of an organization receiving support in Florida to reduce disparate outcomes is Prospera, an economic development, nonprofit organization specializing in providing bilingual assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their business.

“Duke Energy’s valuable and continuous donations positively impact our programs and the underserved population we assist in Florida,” said Augusto Sanabria, Prospera president and chief executive officer. “Prospera works year-round to empower Hispanic entrepreneurs with consulting, training, access to capital and additional resources to help them start, sustain and grow businesses. Small, minority-owned businesses need our continued support so more individuals can provide for their families and create jobs for others. Together, we can continue increasing prosperity and equity in our communities.”

Duke Energy will continue to engage with local organizations and leaders to help create long-term solutions to the social justice issues our communities face. The company is also strengthening its internal diversity and inclusion programs to foster greater awareness, respect and inclusion.

This year’s largest grants were awarded to the following community organizations that make impactful contributions to the communities we serve.


Florida State Parks Foundation – $50,000. Florida State Parks Foundation will update its equipment for the Florida Park Service Strike Team, resulting in a more effective emergency response.

Prospera – $50,000. Prospera’s program will work directly with Hispanic-owned businesses to become more economically resilient by forging strong business continuity plans and financial strategies to recover and operate without interruption during future disasters.

Tampa Bay area

Academy Prep Centers for Education – $15,000. The Academy Prep Center of St. Petersburg program will increase access to educational opportunities and allow students to break the cycle of poverty by providing graduates with textbooks, tutoring, technology, summer programming, uniforms, fees for their registration and tests, college tours, and more.

Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services – $10,000. Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services will provide food and hygiene items as part of its “Totes for Hope” project that supports its Community Assistance and Life Liaison (CALL) program clients who are displaced. Funding will also help alleviate significant client barriers to stability, safety and success.

Hernando County Emergency Management – $17,000. The Hernando County Emergency Management program will launch a multimedia campaign regarding information on its hurricane and safety expo and the latest information on how to prepare for, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against the prevalent hazards that face the community. The program will also provide its first HERricane Summer Camp, a five-day summer camp for young women ages 13-17 to learn about emergency management as a career.

Pinellas County Emergency Management – $58,000. The Pinellas County Emergency Management program will install kitchen equipment in an existing space at the Lealman Exchange, which serves as an emergency shelter, to provide on-site feeding before, during and after a storm for the county’s most vulnerable communities.

Greater Orlando area

Haines City Community Redevelopment Agency – $10,000. Haines City Community Redevelopment Agency will provide various approaches to revitalize homes and communities and restore lives by collaborating with other government agencies and nonprofit organizations. Funds will also support the  Residents First Initiative’s Safe At Home Workshop Series that includes emergency response and readiness and conservation topics.

Highlands County Emergency Management – $15,000. The Highlands County Emergency Management program will provide a series of outreach events presented in different platforms and mediums to help educate residents on different preparedness techniques so they can better manage any type of emergency.

Orange County Office of Emergency Management – $78,000. Orange County’s Office of Emergency Management will develop and deploy a 24-foot Community Resilience Pod. The pod will be a first-of-its-kind mobile unit, focusing on mobile Wi-Fi hot spots, cooling areas, device charging, food/tarp/first-aid kit distribution and providing clean drinking water. The pod will also offer education signage, immersive video and training to local community members.

Polk County Emergency Management – $10,000. Polk County Emergency Management will partner with the City of Auburndale to provide a Hurricane Expo for residents and prepare Polk citizens with disaster preparedness, fire safety, 911 awareness and other emergency management-related education.

Seminole County Emergency Management – $30,000. Seminole County Emergency Management will purchase preparedness supplies for its Emergency Operations Center, as well as develop a targeted direct mail campaign to promote Alert Seminole/Reverse 911 alerts to vulnerable populations.

United Arts of Central Florida – $50,000. United Arts of Central Florida will address the underrepresentation of people of color in the arts in Central Florida by conducting focus groups to identify the barriers to inclusion, provide training and workshops to demystify the funding process, and design funding programs to provide opportunities for local organizations.

Greater Tallahassee; Gainesville area

Council of Culture & Arts (COCA) – $10,000. The Council of Culture & Arts program will allow COCA to directly address several of the current needs in their schools and community by making funding, resources and materials more accessible, and by fostering more equity, diversity and community engagement in their school arts programs.

Family Promise of Gainesville – $5,000. Family Promise of Gainesville will provide homes for 16 families per year for a 90-day shelter program that includes connection to benefits that increase family self-sufficiency and reduce the trauma of homelessness.

Forgotten Coast en Plein Air – $20,000. Forgotten Coast en Plein Air will engage nontraditional “art event” populations to include people of color and resource challenged individuals who struggle with multigenerational poverty in its 2022 event, emphasizing community discussions and awareness surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion.

Franklin County Emergency Management – $10,000. Franklin County Emergency Management will assemble and distribute “Hurricane Preparedness Buckets” to vulnerable populations in Franklin County. Buckets will include survival supplies and information to increase the community’s ability to be resilient following a disaster.

Levy County Emergency Management – $14,000. Levy County Emergency Management will increase the number of residents who have access to vital emergency information by setting up mobile, programmable digital message kiosks in high-traffic areas to display important preparedness information and post disaster updates.

Madison County Emergency Management – $10,000. Madison County Emergency Management will purchase a mass notification system for emergency alerts. The mass notification system will be utilized for important preparedness and response information to be distributed to citizens quickly during disaster response and recovery.

Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership – $10,000. The Ocala Metro Chamber & Economic Partnership program will conduct an Ocala Metro Workforce Participation Survey in an effort to identify individuals not participating in the workforce, identify barriers to their entering the workforce and begin plans to address barriers.

Wakulla County Emergency Management – $10,000. Wakulla County Emergency Management will increase community resiliency and the capability to respond to disasters by providing a preparedness event and equipping a Wakulla County Emergency Management Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) that could be utilized in public outreach and disaster events.

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 and its Powerful Communities program 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% 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: Audrey Stasko
Phone: 315.877.3031