Doris Duke gives back – North Carolina groups get $6.2M

Tobacco heiress Doris Duke is giving back to her home state of North Carolina through the charitable foundation she established before her death in 1993, The News & Observer in Raleigh reports.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation – the 29th-largest foundation in the U.S. –already has given $6.2 million to North Carolina organizations such as the Durham-based American Dance Festival and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University.

Miss Duke’s foundation also supports Duke University, which became a major research university thanks to the endowment created by her father, American Tobacco Co. founder James B. Duke.

By channeling her $1.2 billion estate into a foundation, Miss Duke created a philanthropy worth $1.6 billion in 1999.

The foundation gave away $55 million since 1997 – and is expected to hand out $51 million next year alone, the N&O says.

“It’s big, especially in these days when it’s harder to be big, and it’s getting a good reputation fast for grant writing very much true to the spirit of what she cared about,” Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, told the N&O.

Unlike her father, whose interests included the Methodist Church and Duke’s Blue Devils, Miss Duke’s interests ranged from jazz and Islamic art to reproductive freedom. 

During her lifetime, she gave nearly $400 million in today’s dollars to organizations like Planned Parenthood, the Deafness Research Foundation, and the Self-Realization Fellowship – a church that integrates Eastern and Western spirituality.

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation has a national focus, emphasizing Duke’s interest in the environment, medical research, and the arts, the N&O says.

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