Duke Energy offers new round of "social justice" grants
Duke Energy doled out $1 million in grants for "social justice and racial equity" in both 2020 and 2021.
Duke Energy is offering a new round of “social justice” grants to nonprofits.
“This grant program will award $25,000 grants for general operating funds to North Carolina nonprofits dedicated to the fight for social justice and racial equity. Grants will empower nonprofits that are led by, and provide services to, communities of color,” according to a Duke Energy news release.
The application period spanned July 1 – Aug. 31 and the decision on what groups get the funds will be made by Oct. 31.
The release lists “strategic principles” guiding what 501(c)(3) organizations may be eligible.
The “target” areas of the grants include:
Trainings and policy reform
Civic engagement for communities of color
Reducing disparate outcomes for people of color through education and workforce development
Legal assistance, including pathways to citizenship
Criminal justice reform, including community policing
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In 2021, Duke Energy awarded $25,000 grants to 40 organizations.
The accompanying 2021 press release stated, “Since 2020, the Duke Energy Foundation has committed more than $8 million to social justice and racial equity organizations, with $7.2 million dedicated to support nonprofits across North Carolina.”
One of the 2021 recipients was the Southern Coalition for Social Justice; the former employer of N.C. Associate Justice Anita Earls.
Another recipient was “Working to Extend Anti-Racist Education,” an organization whose founder Ronda Taylor Bullock has promoted the idea of taking Critical Race Theory from “theory to praxis” in North Carolina K-12 classrooms. In December of 2021, Bullock held a Critical Race Theory town hall during which parental pushback on the use of controversial theory in schools was characterized as “gaslighting.”
Similarly, in 2020, Duke Energy awarded $1 million in grants to 80 organizations to “support social justice and racial equity.”
Of those 80 organizations receiving a grant, only around 14 were based in North Carolina. Most of the grants went to groups in South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The 2020 grants given to North Carolina groups involved topics like Black youth development, “restorative justice” and “community bail” funding.
Of note among the 2020 grants, one was awarded to the Center for Racial Equity in Education (CREED). That organization was founded and is run by N.C. State Board of Education member James Ford.
According to CREED NC’s about page, the organization “will reach beyond programming, and other facilitated experiences to promote deep and authentic engagement with some of the nation’s most pressing issues, such as equity, gender, race, class, civic engagement, mental health, community engagement, and social justice through education.”
Ford and CREED have popped up in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion training in several school districts such as Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.
Controversy seems to follow Ford.
Ford and his organization were recently highlighted in the promotion of “H.E.A.L. NC,” a group set up to “counter” educational complaints from parents by Organize 2020, the Social Justice Caucus of the N.C. Association of Educators.
In 2020, former N.C. State Superintendent Mark Johnson called Ford out for an arguably racist tweet comparing swing voters to white supremacists.
That was not the first time Ford had made offensive statements on Twitter. Earlier that year, Ford tweeted that he knows “some EXTREMELY nice racists.”
Ford was also a vocal proponent of controversial revisions to the state’s K-12 Social Studies Standards last year. During meetings of the state board of education early in 2021, Ford and Lt. Governor Mark Robinson clashed over the inclusion of social justice and Critical Race Theory elements in those revisions.