A Word from our President on COVID-19

A Word from our President on COVID-19

For 95 years, we here at The Duke Endowment have been working with our partners and grantees to fulfill James B. Duke’s philanthropic mandate to improve the quality of life in the Carolinas.

Today, that mission is being challenged like never before by the COVID-19 crisis gripping our region, the nation, and the world.

The health care providers we work with are struggling to keep doctors and nurses safe while confronting a potentially overwhelming surge in patient numbers. 

Rhett Mabry

The four higher learning institutions we assist – Davidson College, Duke University, Furman University and Johnson C. Smith University – have sent students home and moved to online learning as they do their part to “flatten the curve” of rising caseloads.

The rural United Methodist churches we help to sustain are providing spiritual comfort and material assistance to their communities, even as they shut down in-person religious services in support of public health leaders’ calls for “social distancing.” 

And the child welfare and early childhood organizations we aid are working hard to meet the physical and mental health needs of families and children whose normal routines, and perhaps sense of safety, have been upended.

We are facing a rapidly evolving situation. But one thing won’t change: Our commitment to our mission and grantees across the Carolinas.

To that end, our work at the Endowment is continuing without interruption. To keep our staff and our partners safe, we have implemented employee travel restrictions and postponed events, and we are using teleconferencing technology to keep connected to each other and to our grantees.

We know this crisis is having a profound impact on the organizations we support, and we are adjusting accordingly. For instance, our Child and Family Well-Being Team has scheduled video teleconferencing site visits as they prepare for grant recommendations in June. Our other program areas are doing the same.

In terms of helping North Carolina and South Carolina with possible funding to address the effects of the coronavirus, we are in conversations with other funders about how we might best contribute. Ideally, we hope to support statewide efforts, particularly around health care and social supports for families and communities. We also hope to learn more about federal assistance to the states, and how we might best complement that. (Click here to learn more about our initial $2.5 million investment). Rest assured that we at The Duke Endowment stand with all of our grantees and partners as they adjust to this frightening “new normal.” Our founder understood what it was to confront a deadly infectious disease. Mr. Duke lost his mother and half-brother to typhoid fever in 1858, a tragedy that influenced his later philanthropy concerning health care and children’s services. For him, giving back was a way to address the critical issues his family and community faced.

Philanthropy has always been about taking care of each other, and that’s just what we intend to do in the days ahead.

Stay safe and be well,
Rhett Mabry
President, The Duke Endowment