Letter From Our Leaders
In the document that established The Duke Endowment in 1924, our founder charged his Trustees to attend to the needs of North Carolina and South Carolina “along physical, mental and spiritual lines.” The critical issues that Mr. Duke identified nine decades ago remain the focus of our Child Care, Health Care, Higher Education and Rural Church program areas. But as we strive to honor his intent and follow his mandate, we must continuously adapt to today’s world to make the greatest impact with our resources. The complex challenges of our society require it.
In this Annual Report, we invite you to learn about the Endowment’s new strategic emphasis on early childhood. With modern advances in brain science showing us the importance of a strong start, we believe our new emphasis on prenatal to age 8 promises a more effective approach to addressing the issues that confront today’s families and communities. We are convinced that prevention and early intervention will help us produce greater impact across our grantmaking and pave the way for better outcomes for children and their families.
As you will discover, this attention to early childhood amplifies the existing strategies and initiatives in our four program areas. Our approach honors program area priorities and grantees, building upon each area’s expertise. While the Endowment has long made early childhood grants, now we are working more systematically and collaboratively across the program areas to incorporate this emphasis into our work. In addition, our emphasis on early childhood moves us into place-based work in several communities, giving us greater opportunity to effect systems change.
We believe that a good beginning for children bodes well both for their lives as adults and for their communities, thus fulfilling Mr. Duke’s vision for the Carolinas. We are excited about exploring this important path and sharing what we learn along the way.
In closing, we want to pay tribute to a colleague who played a major role in developing our early childhood emphasis and served as an exceptional leader across our organization. Arthur Morehead, the Endowment’s vice president and general counsel, passed away on February 8, 2019. From the time he joined our staff in 2007, Arthur’s wisdom, tireless commitment and good-natured guidance made him indispensable. All of us miss him deeply.