Duke partners with Furman for program following Charleston shootings

In the days immediately following the tragic shootings in Charleston, S.C., many individuals and organizations asked the question: “What can we do to help?”

More than 4,000 Duke Energy employees and thousands of retirees in South Carolina asked the same of themselves, and their company.

In response, Duke’s leaders engaged in deliberate, meaningful conversations with stakeholders across the state to identify where the company could make the biggest difference and most positive impact. These discussions returned to the same theme: the best way Duke Energy can help is to promote diversity and civic participation in South Carolina.

Furman’s Riley Institute is unique in that mission and the perfect partner for Duke Energy in these efforts.

With the help of $100,000 from Duke Energy and a matching grant program for Duke employees, the Riley Institute will build on two of its long-term successful leadership programs — one aimed toward community leaders and one toward youth.

“The outpouring of support from around the state and the nation is awe-inspiring,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy’s president in South Carolina. “In the face of this tragedy, it is important to come together to help our fellow citizens persevere and move forward. I believe these programs will be an important step forward in doing just that.”

Diversity Leaders Initiative

The Riley Institute will pilot an expansion of its existing Diversity Leaders Initiative (DLI), a program that focuses on the state’s top leadership across many sectors.

The expansion pilot will bring together educators and law enforcement personnel who are responsible for building culture at the ground level in their organizations. 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.

Education and law enforcement professionals will work together on diversity-focused service projects in their communities.

Emerging Diversity Leaders

The Riley Institute will also pilot the Emerging Diversity Leaders (EDL) program, based on its Emerging Public Leaders program.

EDL will be a nine-month diversity-focused service leadership experience for rising high school seniors. The program will be offered free of charge to participants and will begin with an intensive, week-long summer program convening on the Furman campus.

The EDL curriculum will teach participants how to lead in diverse settings, engage in the community, analyze critical issues, lead ethically, communicate and present effectively, and plan for the implementation of a diversity-focused community service project.

With input from the Riley Institute DLI team, curriculum will be developed to bring a special focus to an appreciation of the value of South Carolina’s diverse population.

Riley Institute staff will provide project support to students throughout the year, and alumni of the Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative in their area will connect to offer additional support to students.

Participants for both programs will come from across the state.

“There is much to learn in the grace and forgiveness shown by the families of the victims and the Mother Emanuel community,” said Don Gordon, executive director of Furman’s Riley Institute. “Their generosity of spirit is a literal ‘saving grace’ that has had the incredible effect of pulling our state together rather than driving us apart. We cannot teach that. But we can continue to grow our long-term, statewide capacity to drive an enduring, systemic understanding and appreciation of the inherent value of our diverse population.”

Author: Duane Childers

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