Enriching Lives and Communities

Enriching Lives and Communities

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


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 underscores the legacy that is the foundation and guiding force of The Duke Endowment. The logo reflects the singular achievements of James B. Duke, and the accomplishments of the Endowment he established.

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.

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 more than 90 years.

In November 2011, Trustees approved six Guiding Principles for our work.

Our Work

The Endowment has awarded over $3.4 billion in grants since its inception, including nearly $1.6 billion to Duke University. With assets of $3.35 billion, the Endowment is one of the nation's largest 501(c)(3) private foundations. Today, almost 82 percent of our total spending goes to grantmaking. Financial information is available on this site or by contacting us.

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.

Fast Facts

Total Assets and Grants Awarded (through 2015) 


As of December 2015, The Duke Endowment has distributed more than $3.4 billion in grants. It took 68 years to distribute the first billion (1990), 12 years to give away the second billion (2002) and just eight years to give the last billion dollars.


The Duke Endowment Supports


The Duke Name

James B. Duke and his family were innovative business leaders and visionary philanthropists. While distinct and independent, many organizations bear the Duke name.

The Duke Endowment
A private foundation created in 1924 by James B. Duke as his philanthropic legacy.

Duke University
Named after the same family, with its own endowment. Duke University has received nearly $1.6 billion in grants from The Duke Endowment.

Duke Energy
Also founded by James B. Duke, now a widely-held public company.

Doris Duke Charitable Foundation
Founded by the daughter of James B. Duke as a separate private foundation supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and the prevention of child maltreatment.

Duke Farms
The 2,700-acre estate in Hillsborough, N.J., developed by James B. Duke, bequeathed to his daughter Doris and now owned and supported by the Duke Farms Foundation, an operating foundation of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Duke Mansion
Built in 1915, this Charlotte, N.C., mansion was tripled in size by its most famous owner, James B. Duke. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is now operated as a nonprofit with all proceeds being used to preserve and protect this community treasure.

Duke Homestead
A restored historic site, this living museum features the home, factories and farm where Washington Duke first grew and processed tobacco. The site offers special programs and activities that demonstrate early tobacco farming and processing techniques. The homestead is operated by North Carolina Historic Sites, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Office of Archives and History.

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 and lay 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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