Church shooting prompts Duke Energy to invest in diversity programs

Duke Energy will donate at least $100,000 to expand a diversity leadership program at Furman University in response to the Emanuel AME Church shootings in Charleston last month.

The money for the Riley Institute at the Greenville college is coming from the Charlotte-based utility. Additional funds are expected to be raised from Duke workers and the company’s matching grant program.

The donations will expand two leadership programs: one for community leaders and another for youths.

Duke said the first pilot program will bring together educators and law enforcement officials “who are responsible for building culture at the ground level in their organizations.” They will work together on diversity-focused service projects in their communities, according to a written statement.

“It will give them the knowledge and insight to help them develop, communicate and implement an adaptive and collaborative on-the-ground culture that supports diverse communities,” the power company said.

Also, funds will support a pilot Emerging Diversity Leaders initiative to be based on the Riley Institute’s existing Emerging Public Leaders program. The free, nine-month program will be for rising high school seniors. The curriculum will teach how to lead in diverse settings and plan community service projects.

“In the face of this tragedy, it is important to come together to help our fellow citizens persevere and move forward,” Clark Gillespy, Duke’s South Carolina market president, said in a written statement. “I believe these programs will be an important step forward in doing just that.”