Duke Energy invests in pre-K education with $1 million grant

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  • Funding to focus on growing pipeline of quality pre-K teachers over next five years

  • Effort part of public-private partnership to improve outcomes for children in Mecklenburg County, N.C.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Duke Energy announced today it is investing $1 million over five years to support expansion of pre-kindergarten education for children in Mecklenburg County, N.C.

“Providing all children access to quality pre-K education is one of the most significant determinants of our region’s future success,” said Lynn Good, chairman, president and CEO of Duke Energy. “The time is now to invest in preparing our state’s future workers and business leaders, and the teachers who foster their learning.”  

The Duke Energy Foundation grant will support the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners’ MECK Pre-K initiative to ensure all children under age 5 in Mecklenburg County have access to high-quality early childhood education.

The initiative was developed in response to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force report, which cited access to early care and education as a key determinant of upward mobility.   

"Duke Energy has been a leader in this effort from the start,” said Mecklenburg County Manager Dena R. Diorio. “This grant continues their strong commitment to MECK Pre-K and helps attract quality teachers who can jumpstart a child’s education and improve their chances of success.”

In 2016, the Charlotte Executive Leadership Council (CELC), a collection of local business leaders chaired by Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good at the time, funded a two-part study to find ways to give significantly more children access to early childhood education. The study informed the county’s five-point plan, released in September 2017 and reaffirmed in February 2019, which laid out the road map for pre-K expansion, including strategies to recruit and foster talented pre-K teachers, and called for public-private partnership to fund the effort.

"When our public and private sectors join forces, we have the power to move the needle on our region’s most pressing issues,” said Michael Marsicano, president and CEO of Foundation For The Carolinas. “We appreciate Duke Energy’s leadership and extraordinary generosity with this major commitment to our community’s children and, in turn, to our community’s future.”

Efforts at the county level complement recent efforts by the state of North Carolina, which has set a goal of enrolling 75 percent of all eligible four year-olds in the NC Pre-K program. The North Carolina General Assembly’s and the Governor’s budget proposals both include provisions to enroll additional children in the NC Pre-K program over the next two years.

The Duke Energy Foundation has invested more than $25 million in the Charlotte community since 2014, including $3 million specifically earmarked for addressing the determinants and factors outlined in the Opportunity Task Force report. Most recently, the Foundation awarded $1.3 million in grants to 46 education programs across North Carolina that focus on closing the achievement gap that often separates low-income students from their peers through preventing summer reading loss and providing out-of-school programs.

Duke Energy Foundation

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy’s 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 125 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2019 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list and Forbes’ 2019 “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 Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Contact: Candice Knezevic
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