Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment Receives $20 Million Gift

Oct 8, 2018

Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment has received a $20 million gift from the Grainger Family Descendants Fund at The Chicago Community Trust. The grant was recommended by an adviser to the fund who graduated from Duke University in 1979. It is one of the largest gifts ever received by the Nicholas School, or by any school of the environment, according to Duke University communications staff.

"These kinds of gifts don't come along all that often," said Toddi Steelman, the school's dean.

Steelman said half of the grant will go toward the school's $25 million financial aid drive to increase need-based aid for graduate students.

"The fact that this gift is going to help us realize that vision earlier than what we had initially anticipated is a very big win for us on that front," Steelman said.

Here's the approximate breakdown of how the Nicholas School will use the grant:

  • $10 million for financial aid and fellowships to graduate students
  • $5 million to research initiatives
  • $3.5 million to a new Natural Resources Finance education program
  • $1.5 million for capital projects, including an ocean engineering lab at the school's marine lab in Beaufort and a redesign of its rooftop garden in Durham. 

The Nicholas School will rededicate its main building in Durham, formerly known as Environment Hall, as Grainger Hall. The dedication ceremony will be held November 8.