Blue Ridge Community College receives $200,000 grant from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas to connect students with apprenticeship opportunities


BRCC News | Published December 11, 2019

Group of people standing around two people holding a giant check

Blue Ridge Community College today announced a $200,000 investment from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas. The funds will be used to connect students with hands-on training and career development opportunities.

The investment will be used to update learning labs to mirror state-of-the-art Advanced Manufacturing standards. Blue Ridge will use $75,000 to purchase new equipment like the Piranha Ironworker and Thermal Imaging Trainer and $125,000 for scholarships, marketing efforts and overall support of the program.

“At Blue Ridge, we are proud to be training young professionals to enter careers right after graduation through our apprenticeship program,” stated Blue Ridge President Dr. Laura Leatherwood. “We are so grateful for this grant from Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas that will help our students gain the knowledge and skills they need to obtain a great career in a high tech field. Blue Ridge has a long history of developing partnerships with our local industries and this grant will further strengthen this work.”

 “We are proud to partner with Blue Ridge Community College to connect students with apprenticeship and workforce training opportunities,” said Craig DeBrew, district manager, Duke Energy. “These students will help meet the growing and evolving needs of the region’s manufacturing industry.”

This grant is part of Duke Energy’s $35 million investment in North Carolina’s Community Colleges’ focus on technical education and support of business and industry.  Individual community colleges could apply for funds through the North Carolina Community Foundation and the Foundation for the Carolinas. Applications were reviewed by a committee of representatives from Duke Energy, NC Community College System and NC Department of Commerce.

About Blue Ridge Community College

Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year, post-secondary institution that elevates the educational experience to prepare students for 21st century success in the workplace or at four-year colleges and universities. Providing real-life, affordable, and accessible education, the College offers more than 200 degrees, diplomas, and certificates; convenient online courses; and fast-tracked job training.

About Duke Energy

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.

Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.

Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2019 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’s illumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.