The Duke Endowment has given a $10 million award to Duke University to create new financial aid opportunities in the Law School and help remove economic barriers for students to study law and launch their careers. The challenge grant will provide matching funds for endowments supporting scholarships, summer and post-graduate public interest fellowships, and loan repayment assistance.
Minor Shaw, Chair of the Board of Trustees at The Duke Endowment, said, "James B. Duke's original vision for Duke University included the training of lawyers and the Endowment is delighted to support this continuing tradition."
The grant will help the Law School continue to attract a diverse student body and enable more students and recent graduates to pursue their interest in public service, said Duke University President Vincent E. Price.
“I am deeply grateful for this transformational grant, which will prepare law students for careers that can uplift our region and the world,” Price said. “It will advance the shared priorities that have guided our partnership with The Duke Endowment for nearly a hundred years.”
In addition to augmenting scholarship support, the award will leverage endowments to help relieve the burden of loan repayment and create summer and post-graduate fellowships covering salary, benefits, or stipends for public interest work. While interest in such work has risen among law students at Duke and nationwide, internships are often unpaid, public interest jobs can be more challenging to secure, and entry-level salaries typically are much lower than those in the private sector.
“Duke Law is deeply committed to meeting the financial needs of our students, who come from diverse social and economic backgrounds, as well as helping to meet the great need for public interest lawyers,” said James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean Kerry Abrams.
“This grant from The Duke Endowment will catalyze investment in legal training that will help students prepare to address pressing needs. We are profoundly thankful.”
For Arturo Nava ’22, a first-generation college graduate, a donor-supported scholarship opened the door to a Duke Law education. While at Duke he has had the opportunity to work for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Brennan Center for Justice, and the Law School’s Civil Justice Clinic, where he assisted clients in cases involving housing, public benefits, domestic violence, and other issues. The opportunity to work in the clinic was what initially drew him to Duke.
Donor support also made it possible for Mary Beth Reed ’21, a recent graduate of the Law School, to begin her career in public service. Reed was the inaugural recipient of a year-long fellowship that supported her work at a Durham organization providing legal services to children and survivors of human trafficking and other traumas. She is working with undocumented children who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected to find a caregiver and obtain legal status, and with local organizations to equip them to identify children eligible for immigration relief, including legal and other services.
“These opportunities will attract to Duke an even greater number of students who are committed to the public good,” said William Hoye, the Law School’s associate dean for admissions and student affairs. “They will have a significant impact on the lives of individuals, give back to their communities, further good and effective government, and serve legal organizations that help transform our society.”
Based in Charlotte and established in 1924 by industrialist and philanthropist James B. Duke, The Duke Endowment is a private foundation that strengthens communities in North Carolina and South Carolina by nurturing children, promoting health, educating minds, and enriching spirits. Since its founding, it has distributed more than $4 billion in grants. The Endowment shares a name with Duke University and Duke Energy, but all are separate organizations.