Duke Energy awards $75K to the Riley Institute

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The Riley Institute’s ConnectionsSC was founded after the Mother Emanuel shooting in Charleston. Photo provided by Furman University

Furman University’s Riley Institute has received a $75,000 grant from Duke Energy to expand ConnectionsSC, a program that aims to advance diversity leadership among education and law enforcement professionals across the state.

The program brings educators and law enforcement together over the course of five months to discuss and study ways to lead in their increasingly diverse communities. Participants are grouped together by school district and develop action projects that benefit students and their communities.

ConnectionsSC was launched in 2015 after nine people were shot and killed by a white supremacist during a Bible study session at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. In the wake of the shooting, Duke Energy donated $100,000 to the Riley Institute to promote diversity and civic engagement in South Carolina.

“There are no quick solutions for the deep legacies of racism,” said Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president. “We are continuing to invest in the long-term approach of the Riley Institute’s diversity leadership work because we expect that over time it will help drive systemic change in the state.”

The program’s inaugural class graduated last year and launched several successful community initiatives. That includes Project H.O.M.E, which aims to provide housing to North Charleston students who become homeless while still in high school.

According to a press release, the new funding will help add 31 additional educators and law enforcement officials and six school districts. This year’s participants began orientation on Aug. 22 in Columbia and will attend five-day long sessions through December.

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