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Duke in North Carolina: Deep-Rooted Ties in Communities Across the State

White outline of the state of North Carolina on a dark blue background.
Duke’s impact in North Carolina extends far beyond its home in Durham

From its founding in 1838 as a small men’s preparatory school in Randolph County, Duke University has transformed into a world-renowned academic medical center, a leading research institution, a major employer, and an economic engine for North Carolina. Duke’s impact in the state extends far beyond its home in Durham today, with a presence in communities across the state. From education, to collaborative research, to service, to meeting healthcare needs in underserved communities, Duke is committed to advancing the prosperity of the state it calls home. Learn more below about a few of the recent ways Duke engages in North Carolina.


Assisting with College Access in NC Communities 

The Duke College Advising Corps (CAC) works to increase the number of low-income, first generation college and underrepresented high school students in North Carolina who enter and complete higher education. Recent Duke graduates serve as “near-peer” advisers, helping high school students in many rural communities navigate the college admissions process, from helping them fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, to setting up campus visits. Along with having to reinvent the ways in which they do their work during the pandemic, Duke CAC advisors sought out volunteer opportunities to meet the critical community needs caused by COVID-19. 

Serving as a Trusted Source for State Policymakers

The need for trusted knowledge and expertise is most valuable during a time of crisis. In response to the pandemic, experts across Duke University and Duke Health have informed policymakers at the local, state, and national levels. Duke experts have contributed research and modeling for the coronavirus, collaborated on testing and contact tracing with state partners, and served on statewide task forces and advisory committees on COVID-19 response.

Driving Local Entrepreneurship in the Research Triangle Park

The Research Triangle in North Carolina is home to three of the world's top research universities which collectively attract more than $3.5 billion in research funding each year. Duke University works with other universities and industry leaders to drive local entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic growth in the Triangle region.

Combatting Latinx Health Disparities in North Carolina

Although Latinx health disparities have existed for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated this issue by disproportionately affecting communities of color. Last March, four Duke faculty members and other advocates formed a group —"Latinx Advocacy Team & Interdisciplinary Network for COVID-19,” or “LATIN-19”—to address these disparities and support the Latinx community in North Carolina. The group helped improve access to testing, contact tracing and care, increase the amount of Spanish language COVID-19 information available and guide state and local policy changes to help reduce the infection rate among the Latinx community across the state.

Giving Back to Communities in Need

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Duke President Vincent Price announced a $5 million expansion of the Duke-Durham Fund to provide financial support and technical assistance to non-profits, small businesses and community-based organizations affected by the pandemic. Duke provided emergency relief for a variety of community partners across the state, including YMCA of the Triangle, Durham Public Schools, El Centro Hispano, nonprofit organizations, and businesses in Carteret County (home to the Duke University Marine Lab campus).

Addressing the Rural Health Care Shortage in North Carolina

A new residency training program at the Duke University School of Medicine will address primary care shortages in rural North Carolina communities and help expand Duke Health’s primary care footprint across the state. The Rural Training Track, part of the Family Medicine Residency in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a collaboration between Duke Primary Care Oxford and Maria Parham Health, a Duke LifePoint Hospital in Henderson. Two residents will complete their first year of training alongside the other family medicine residents in Durham, then spend most of their second and third years training in the rural North Carolina communities of Oxford and Henderson.  

Researching Solutions to Societal Issues in North Carolina

The Bass Connections program at Duke University bridges the classroom and the world beyond the university, giving students a chance to tackle complex societal problems alongside faculty. Many Bass Connections research projects focus directly on issues in North Carolina communities. A recent Bass Connections team analyzed the North Carolina Early Childhood Action Plan to inform the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services on how the state can achieve and track its policy goals in the plan.