PR News 2016 CSR Awards: Community Affairs

Winner: Duke Energy - Water Resources Fund

The Water Resources Fund is an ongoing, sustainable effort that continues to impact communities. With this initiative, Duke Energy plans to fund approximately 150 community projects from 2015-2020 for organizations that improve water quality, quantity and conservation in the Carolinas and surrounding regions.

Duke Energy launched the Water Resources Fund Sept. 24, 2014, with simultaneous events in Danville, Virginia; Greenville, South Carolina; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Duke Energy extended event invitations to key stakeholders from each community its grants would impact.

The initial grant announcement included eight “seed grants” to organizations with projects that demonstrated the types of projects Duke Energy seeks to fund. Project scopes ranged from offering disadvantaged students access to STEM education that incorporated aquatic life to funding a conservation easement to protect the habitat of a federally endangered Carolina mussel.

To further positive storytelling and to help build awareness among eligible organizations, Duke Energy distributed media advisories prior to the event and issued a press release the day of. The company encouraged grant recipients to help spread the news by providing partners with a communications toolkit that included a sample press release and a list of communications best practices. Duke Energy’s district managers were integral to fostering relationships with organizations eligible for funding. Their personal outreach helped generate applications and build relationships with past grant recipients.

Between September 2014 and September 2015, Duke Energy provided more than $1.94 million to 23 community partners with projects supporting regional waterways. Some projects completed to date have: restored a stream bank and educated a community on stream ecology; installed two canoe launches and a public stream access at a new recreation facility; and opened the first Wake County-maintained nature preserve.

Furthermore, the 2015 JD Power Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Survey revealed that 32 percent of customers were aware of Duke Energy’s efforts to improve its impact on the environment.

Honorable Mentions:
• Anthem Foundation - Hands Only CPR - Training 100 Million People to the beat of "Stayin' Alive"
• Discovery Communications - Support of My Brother’s Keeper Initiative: Changing the Narrative for Boys and Young Men of Color
• Food Lion Feeds - Year 2: Building on Our 500 Million Meal Commitment
• Honeywell Hometown Solutions 2015
• Mylan - EpiPen4Schools Program
• PJ Lhuillier Group of Companies - Cebuana Lhuillier Advocacy Campaigns