Focus on the Carolinas

Focus on the Carolinas


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, as needs grew and new challenges emerged, our grantees and partners across the Carolinas continued to nurture children, strengthen health care, educate minds and enrich spiritual life. The Duke Endowment was privileged to support them and the communities they serve. 

In the spring of 2020, the Endowment’s Trustees identified several principles to guide our response to the coronavirus’ impact. The principles emphasize meeting highest critical needs, aligning with our core grantmaking strategies and mitigating the further exacerbation of systemic inequities. From April 2020 to June 2021, the Endowment distributed $29 million in COVID-related support approved by the Trustees.

Today, with the pandemic’s aftermath still weighing heavily on people of color and families with low incomes, the Endowment is focusing its resources on communities disproportionately affected by the virus (African Americans, Native Americans/Indigenous and Latinos). 

Pressing Problems, Rapid Response

In March 2020, the Trustees approved $2.5 million in grants to be split between the North Carolina Healthcare Foundation and the One SC Fund: COVID-19 Response. The grants helped statewide efforts focused on access to vital health care and sustaining social supports as unemployment rose. Read more in the news release

In May 2020, the Endowment provided a $3.5 million grant to Feeding the Carolinas, a network of 10 food banks serving more than 3,700 charitable agencies in North Carolina and South Carolina. Read more in the news release, and learn about the grant’s impact in this interview with Feeding the Carolinas leader Mike Darrow.

Focused Funding

In the fall of 2020, as the pandemic amplified longstanding inequities affecting communities of color and families with low incomes, the Endowment awarded $3.8 million to bolster services and resources for demographic groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Read more in the press release.

In February 2021, the Trustees approved another $1.5 million grant to the One SC Fund, which is housed at Central Carolina Community Foundation. The gift supports a targeted approach to serving every county in South Carolina, and will address locally identified needs such as food insecurity, education, rent and utility assistance, mental health and vaccine rollouts. Read more in the press release.

In March 2021, Trustees approved $531,487 in funding for three grantees seeking to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in the communities they serve:

  • An award to Darlington County First Steps will provide physical and mental health support to families with low incomes, as well as food and other care items. Read more in the press release here
  • A grant to El Futuro will broaden the reach of mental health services for the Latino population. 
  • ISLA will use its grant to respond to needs exacerbated by the virus among the Spanish-speaking community. 

In May 2021, Endowment Trustees approved five grants totaling $1.4 million:

  • Two separate grants to the McLeod Health Foundation will support critical follow-up for COVID-19 patients vulnerable to long-term health effects, and increase vaccine access among minority populations. 
  • Robeson County Church and Community Center received funding to help alleviate food insecurity. 
  • An award to the SC Cancer Alliance will strengthen partnerships with minority organizations to enhance COVID-19 education and encourage reluctant individuals to pursue vaccination. 
  • The Conservation Fund will use its grant to help Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)-led and BIPOC-serving organizations provide COVID-19 relief in North Carolina.

In June 2021, the Board approved a $200,000 grant to support an Interfaith Youth Core program that will help local colleges and faith communities work together as trusted messengers to share vaccination information within minority communities. Read more about it here.

As this situation evolves, so will our approach to supporting dedicated partners so attuned to their communities. We will continue to work with them to overcome obstacles and reimagine our future together. 

More Information

The Winston-Salem Journal published an opinion essay on June 13, 2020, signed by Dr. Laura Gerald, president of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, and Rhett Mabry, president of The Duke Endowment. It highlighted the need for long-term systemic change as it relates to COVID-19 and also acknowledged the broader problem of racial inequality as highlighted by the summer 2020 protests. Read more here.

In this Q & A, read more about our grant to Feeding the Carolinas.

Podcast Series: Helping Rural Communities During the Pandemic

Our Rural Church Program Area teamed with the Rural Matters podcast on a three-part series looking at the Endowment’s work helping rural congregations and communities. (Look for the July 21st, July 29th and August 11th episodes).

Summer 2020 E-Newsletter COVID-19 Special Edition

See how grantees and partners across our four program areas and Special Initiatives are responding to the crisis in this Special Edition of our quarterly e-newsletter. 

One SC Fund

The One SC Fund: COVID-19 Response is a partnership between SC Grantmakers Network, Together SC and the United Way Association of SC. The funds are held at Central Carolina Community Foundation. Learn more

Fill the Gap Response Fund

The North Carolina Healthcare Foundation has created the COVID-19 Fill the Gap Response Fund to partner with private philanthropy, corporate partners and major gift donors to meet critical needs of organizations across North Carolina. Learn more

Funding Flow in the Carolinas

An analysis of the first four pieces of federal COVID-19 legislation shows that as of June 15, 2020, at least $15.1 billion will flow to North Carolina and $7.2 billion to South Carolina. In addition, $80 million in private funding is to be injected into local communities.

To view an interactive chart detailing the public and private funding for North Carolina and South Carolina, click the graphic below.

COVID-19 Funding Flow in the Carolinas

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities

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