About The Duke Endowment

Since 1924, The Duke Endowment has worked to help people and strengthen communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds and enriching spirits.

Fulfilling a Legacy

Located in Charlotte, N.C., the Endowment seeks to fulfill the visionary genius and innovative legacy of James Buchanan Duke, one of the great industrialists and philanthropists of the 20th century. Mr. Duke established the Endowment in 1924 with $40 million. In 1925, it was expanded with an additional $67 million from his estate. Adjusted for present value, Mr. Duke’s total gifts would amount to almost $1.4 billion today.

It was by the stroke of his pen that James B. Duke created The Duke Endowment, and the integration of his signature as a graphic element in our logo underscores the legacy that is the foundation and guiding force of The Duke Endowment.

Governed by a board of trustees, Endowment staff conduct grantmaking according to guidelines in Mr. Duke’s original Indenture of Trust (pdf), a legal document that remains relevant and timely after nearly 100 years. In November 2011, Trustees approved six Guiding Principles for our work.

James B Duke pen

The Duke Endowment’s Indenture of Trust


Over 95 Years of History & Legacy


Roots for Growth

In the 2020 Annual Report, you’ll learn how The Duke Endowment is systematically reviewing our work through a racial equity, diversity and inclusion lens. While we have a long history of working across diverse communities, we know we have room for improvement. That is why we chose Roots for Growth” as the theme of this year’s annual report.

Our Work

The Endowment has awarded more than $4.2 billion in grants since its inception, including over $1.5 billion to Duke University. With assets of $4.7 billion in 2020, the Endowment is one of the nation’s largest 501(c)(3) private foundations. 

Indenture program area 01

In addition to grantmaking work in four program areas, the Endowment shares its knowledge by publishing resources for grantees and other service organizations, including information about what we’re learning from our work in various publications, reports and evaluations. We also operate a fellowship program to cultivate emerging leaders in philanthropy.

Our Commitment to Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

The Duke Endowment is systematically reviewing our work through a racial equity, diversity and inclusion lens.

Apply for a grant

Select 501(c)(3) organizations in North Carolina and South Carolina may be eligible for grants through The Duke Endowment.