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Duke Energy Awards US$2.2 Million in Grants for Workforce Development

Aug. 5, 2020
Grants awarded across North Carolina and Florida to cultivate the energy sector's future workforce.

Duke Energy recently rolled out US$2.2 million in grants for workforce training and development across North Carolina and Florida. These grants are meant to support programs that address the most pressing skill gaps in local communities and cultivate the energy sector’s future workforce.

The company awarded US$903,828 and US$648,000 in grants to eight community colleges and 16 organizations, respectively, in North Carolina. In Florida, US$655,000 was awarded in grants to 19 workforce development and education programs.

The grants to support apprenticeship job training programs at the eight community colleges in North Carolina fulfill Duke Energy’s 2017 commitment to fund US$5 million in apprenticeship programs at community colleges across the state. Since 2004, Duke Energy has provided a total of US$45 million in funding to North Carolina community colleges.

“We are so grateful for Duke Energy’s support of our apprenticeship programs,” said Peter Hans, president of the North Carolina Community College System. “Students in the programs receive hands-on learning while earning a paycheck and gaining specialized skills. Apprenticeships have increased rapidly at community colleges because employers recognize their value in building the workforce of the future.”

The eight colleges below have received grant awards in this round of funding:

These grants represent the sixth and final round of funding in the US$5 million Duke Energy/Piedmont Natural Gas Community College Apprenticeship Grant program announced in April 2017. Through this program, 23 community colleges have received funding, connecting more than 2800 student participants across 36 North Carolina counties with high-value job opportunities.

The apprenticeship grant program was administered by North Carolina Community Foundation and Foundation For The Carolinas. Award decisions were made by a committee of representatives from Duke Energy, North Carolina Community College System, and North Carolina Department of Commerce.

“North Carolina’s community colleges are essential to train the workforce that businesses rely on,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president. “As we partner to bring more companies to North Carolina and build a smarter energy future, community colleges are critical to upgrade workforce skills to meet new job demands.”

The grants awarded to the 16 organizations in North Carolina are a part of Duke Energy’s Powerful Communities philanthropic program. The program awards strategic charitable grants to nonprofit organizations working to build powerful communities by bolstering education, developing the future workforce of the energy sector, and conserving and protecting the environment.

The 2020 Powerful Communities grants, from the Duke Energy Foundation with support from Piedmont Natural Gas, aim to reinforce programs serving underrepresented, low-income, or diverse audiences, including women and minorities.

“At Duke Energy, we recognize the importance of expanding access to workforce training opportunities in the communities we serve, especially those that are underserved,” said De May. “We look forward to working with these organizations to build the diverse workforce North Carolina needs to be a strong, successful economic engine.”

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) received one of this year’s workforce grants. The university will use it to help continue its recruitment efforts and targeted academic support to increase its number of workforce-ready graduates. The Duke Energy Foundation has been a partner with the NCCU since it began its dual physics/engineering degree program in 2015 in partnership with North Carolina State University.

“With Duke Energy Foundation funding, we were able to strengthen our recruitment efforts, which enabled us to increase enrollment in our physics program by 82%, and currently we have nearly 40 majors,” said Dr. Caesar Jackson, professor of physics at the NCCU. “This is an outstanding accomplishment during a time when the number of physics degree programs at HBCUs has been declining.”

The organizations listed below received grants and full descriptions of their programs can be found here.

  • Catawba Valley Community College Foundation 
  • FSIC American Innovation and Opportunity Fund 
  • Gaston Innovation Group 
  • Johnson C. Smith University 
  • MeckEd 
  • myFutureNC 
  • Nash Community College 
  • NC Agricultural and Technical State University 
  • NC Society of Hispanic Professionals 
  • North Carolina Central University Foundation 
  • Piedmont Community College 
  • Richmond Community College Foundation 
  • Urban League of Central Carolinas 
  • USO of North Carolina 
  • Winston-Salem State University Foundation 
  • Young Black Leadership Alliance

The grants awarded by Duke Energy Florida to 19 workforce development and education programs in Florida are intended to help the region tackle economic disruptions from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Philanthropic giving is important to help our cities, our towns, and our communities not only survive the current COVID-19 pandemic but also grow and thrive,” said Catherine Stempien, state president, Duke Energy Florida. “During these unprecedented times, attracting, training, and educating a diverse workforce for the future with skills employers need can help our communities emerge from this pandemic stronger and more resilient.”

In recent years, Duke Energy has given millions of dollars to bolster organizations that are preparing to meet the industry’s transformation and evolving customer expectations. One of those organizations is Lake-Sumter State College, which received US$120,000 this year to continue support for the college’s Increasing Access to Energy Technology Programs and Careers.

“We are incredibly grateful to Duke Energy for their generous and ongoing support of our energy programs,” said Stan Sidor, president of Lake-Sumter State College. “Our strong partnership allows us to offer an industry-leading education for our students who can seamlessly transition into high-wage jobs in the energy industry. We believe our program is second to none in providing an expansive and in-depth curriculum for line workers and relay technicians.”

St. Petersburg College is a 2020 recipient of a US$100,000 award to support the launch of the Diversity in Energy Initiative in partnership with Duke Energy Florida. The program will target and recruit historically underserved lower-income, minority, and female populations for careers in the energy field and connect them to related educational pathways.

"We are proud to be able to exercise our relationships to bring awareness and access across our communities, especially in underserved areas," said Matthew Liao-Troth, St. Petersburg College’s vice president of academic affairs. "This career nationally averages an annual salary of over US$77,000, and it is in demand locally and regionally. We expect to have many successful graduates of the program."

Below is a list of grant recipients in Florida.

Tampa Bay area

  • St. Petersburg College Foundation – Diversity in Energy Initiative, (US$100,000)
  • University of South Florida Foundation – Advancing STEM Skills and Environmental Education Across Generations (US$75,000)
  • Pasco-Hernando State College Foundation – Elevating Engineering Achievement and Career Attainment (US$42,000)
  • South Florida State College Hardee Campus – Powerline System Simulators: Expanding the Learning Experience (US$14,150)
  • AmSkills Apprenticeship Foundation – Innovation and Manufacturing Academy (US$22,500)
  • Citrus County Education Foundation – Foundation for Success projects (US$11,000)
  • United Way of Citrus County – Powering the Workforce (US$9000)

Greater Orlando area

  • Lake-Sumter State College Foundation – Increasing Access to Energy Technology Programs and Careers (US$120,000)
  • University of Central Florida Foundation – College of Engineering and Computer Science program support (US$75,000)
  • Valencia College Foundation – Duke Energy Scholarships program (US$50,000)
  • Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando – Scholarships and student programing (US$20,000)
  • The Education Foundation of Osceola County – Career Pipelines (US$20,000)
  • Foundation for Seminole State College of Florida – Workforce Jumpstart (US$10,000)
  • Foundation for Seminole County Public Schools – Grants for Great Ideas and STEM learning (US$5000)
  • Futures Inc. – ENVIRO STEM (US$5,000)
  • United Against Poverty – Success Training Employment Program (US$5000)

Greater Tallahassee area

  • Boys & Girls Club of North Central Florida – Synergy (US$25,850)


  • Consortium of Florida Education Foundation – Increasing the Impact of Florida’s Local Education Foundations on Classroom Investments (US$27,500)
  • Florida Chapter of American Association of Blacks in Energy – Ninth Annual Youth Energy Academy, Second Annual Energy Academy and scholarships (US$18,000)

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