Education initiatives boosted by $500,000 in Duke Energy grants

UPSTATE — Duke Energy has been powering South Carolina for more than a century, and continues to power the minds of its students by investing in innovative education programs and initiatives across the state.

Through the Duke Energy Foundation, $500,000 in grants will go to initiatives across the state that emphasize science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), as well as programs that increase childhood reading proficiency.

“Supporting effective education programs that focus on fields related to science and technology are a critical focus for our company,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “These initiatives will help strengthen the pipeline of highly skilled workers that fuel the economic engines that drive South Carolina.”

Duke Energy’s education grants this year include:

Clemson University Women in Science/Programs for Educational Enrichment and Retention (PEER): To provide continued support to programs that provide camps for minority engineering majors, and to provide camps, encouragement and support to women pursuing careers in science and math.

S.C. Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics: To support summer training for teachers in Pickens, Florence and Kershaw counties with hands-on STEM activities and curriculum, and summer camps that focus on STEM topics.

iMAGINE Upstate: To support pre-event activities focused on science and engineering for students leading up to the STEM-focused community festival.

Junior Achievement of the Upstate: To provide kits that will help middle school children in Greenville County understand STEM career paths.

School District of Oconee County: To support a district-wide initiative of accelerated professional development for the implementation of STEM curriculum.

School District of Pickens County: To provide literacy teacher training for all kindergarten through 5th grade teachers.

United Way of Greenville County: To support afterschool programs for students from underserved neighborhoods that engage in hands-on STEM activities.

United Way of Pickens County: To expand the successful “Camp iRock” summer literacy program countywide.

Upcountry History Museum: To support literacy development through the Upcountry History Museum Book Club.

Winthrop University: To support internships for students pursuing STEM majors.

“Camp iRock is an innovative educational program in Pickens County that addresses summer literacy loss in students advancing to second, third and fourth grades,” said Julie Capaldi, president of the United Way of Pickens County. “More than 200 struggling readers will experience intensive literacy instruction from highly qualified teachers in a fun camp atmosphere this summer thanks to Duke Energy.”

“Our portable training program is designed to improve student outcomes by empowering middle-school math and science teachers with quality, hands-on lab experiences that integrate useful technologies into standards-based curriculum,” said Kim Bowman, CEO of the Governor’s School for Math and Science Foundation. “Duke Energy’s investment in our statewide outreach programs will have a tremendous impact this summer on teachers and students in Florence, Kershaw and Pickens counties.”

In addition to these grants, Duke Energy and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy organization, recently announced a partnership to minimize the summer slide and improve the reading proficiency of more than 3,000 current second graders in South Carolina. The $400,000 program will be available in 36 Title I elementary schools in the Pee Dee region in northeast South Carolina.

The grants are administered through the Duke Energy Foundation, which provides philanthropic support to address the needs vital to the health of its communities, with a focus on education, environment, economic and workforce development and community impact.

The foundation annually funds more than $25 million to communities throughout Duke Energy’s six-state service area. Last year, the foundation donated more than $1.7 million to nonprofit organizations throughout South Carolina.