Our priorities are community-informed. Together we identified five focus areas in which Duke can forge purposeful partnerships to advance quality of life in Durham. Below is a list of significant engagements and initiatives in partnership with community.


Duke has engaged with communities to address affordable housing, community arts and recreation, and neighborhood infrastructure in Durham. Engagements occur across Duke in collaboration with a variety of community partners. Duke strives to achieve reciprocal and equitable partnerships like those currently modeled by the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership (DDNP), which supports 14 surrounding neighborhoods in priorities developed through community listening. Those priorities include housing access and quality, economic development, and neighborhood preservation. Other Duke initiatives include partnerships in the arts, access to technology, climate and sustainability, historic preservation, and community development research and programming.

“Owning a home is like having an oasis. I walk through my front door and have this tremendous pride that I own everything in this place. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

stacie daye in front of her homeStacie Daye, homeowner, Duke Homebuyers Club


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As a healthcare provider, Duke invests in community health initiatives. Early collaborations to open community health clinics in Durham and coordinated access to healthcare are foundational to Duke’s community health infrastructure. The establishment of the Duke Health Office of Community Relations (now Community Health) helped solidify support for a healthy Durham by improving the well-being of people and neighborhoods. Additionally, Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional and Duke Raleigh hospitals lead engagement efforts with local communities as outlined in their annual community health assessments.

“Anytime you are engaging in conversations that will ultimately impact people or organizations, it is really important to have them represented at the table.”

Jason Peace headshotJason Peace, Executive Director, Meals on Wheels of Durham


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Investing in the education and general well-being of young children is crucial for improving quality of life for Durham communities in the years to come. With more than 45,000 school aged children in Durham, Duke forges partnerships in education by investing in schools and neighborhoods surrounding the university, as well as providing funding and programming for students, teachers, and parents. Special attention is given to initiatives that support public education for Durham’s children, including school partnerships, student readiness and achievement, teacher training and retention, and family and community engagement.

“Often we think about leading by being in front, but for us there is tremendous value in leading alongside...or from behind, and allowing parents to be the number one teachers to their young people.”

David Reese, Executive Director and President, Durham Children's Initiative


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As one of Durham’s largest employers, as well as an educational institution, Duke is dedicated to improving the college and career possibilities of Durham’s young people. As Durham has grown, opportunities have not reached many existing residents and the Raleigh-Durham region ranks among the lowest in the nation for economic mobility. In partnership with local school districts, Duke is committed to supporting high school persistence and completion rates for Durham high school students and to promote college awareness and readiness through advising and programming. Through partnerships to improve post-secondary and workforce development opportunities, college and career readiness programs are available for middle and high school students.

“Durham is super collaborative. We don't do our programs in isolation, so for our longer term programming like career pathways, (where we need) banks or financial education or mental health, we have partnerships and share resources. We believe in collective impact.”

syretta hill headshotSyretta Hill, Executive Director, StepUp Durham


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Building upon historical partnerships and adapting to community needs, there is an effort to build ongoing connections with reciprocity and equity among the thousands of nonprofits and community-based organizations in the region. Organizational capacity-building activities are designed to promote scholarship, service, and collaboration by centering civic engagement efforts by Duke faculty, staff and students through Duke’s offices, academic and professional schools.

“When you are helping others you feel better and you're happier in your own life and you feel more of a purpose. And it's so easy to do.”

linda lytvinenko photoLinda Lytvinenko, Duke alumna, retiree and volunteer


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