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2019 DukeEngage Impact Report

DukeEngage enables students and faculty to collaborate with communities—locally and globally—to address critical societal needs through an immersive summer of community engagement.

looking back

2019 was a year of change for DukeEngage. Five new programs launched or returned, including our first-ever group programs in Chicago and Puerto Rico. The upward trend in applications to US-based programs continued, with a 10 percent increase over 2018. In fact, our DC, Puerto Rico, and New Orleans programs received the most applications overall.

In spring 2019, Eric Mlyn, the Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage, announced he was stepping down from the program he led for more than a decade. In May, he led his final Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy, sharing his takeaways, lessons learned, and favorite memories before sending 398 DukeEngagers into the world to participate in 36 group programs and 22 independent projects.

In July, DukeEngage officially became an affiliated program of the Kenan Institute for Ethics, with the goal of strengthening the program’s connection to faculty and the curriculum. At this time, longtime DukeEngage-Togo program leader Charlie Piot was named the Peter Lange Faculty Director of DukeEngage and Inga Peterson was hired as the Associate Director of Operations.

While all this was happening in Durham, our DukeEngage students were making change of their own around the globe. They were creating apps in Cape Town to provide on-demand counseling for trauma support. They were developing nutrition plans and providing farm-grown meals for hospital patients in Rwanda to expedite recovery. They were teaching STEM classes in California, advocating for immigrants in Arizona, and planting trees in Costa Rica.

Of course, this next chapter of DukeEngage would not be possible without our program leaders, community partners, and generous donors who support every aspect of the DukeEngage experience. That's why we wanted to share this snapshot of 2019 with you: to show the tremendous impact that your support has on DukeEngage. Thank you!

by the numbers

laying the groundwork

On May 7-8, 2019, more than 500 students, faculty, staff, program directors, site coordinators, and community partners gathered for the largest civic engagement conference of its kind: the Fortin Foundation DukeEngage Academy. The immersive two-day training included an opening plenary by Gary Bennett, Duke's vice provost of undergraduate education. He encouraged DukeEngage participants to not only find their passion but to embrace their purpose.

The Academy included multiple interactive training sessions that helped students prepare for their DukeEngage experiences. Day one kicked off with Foundations of Engagement and Social Identity & Dialogue sessions, followed by everyone's favorite non-verbal game of cross-cultural communication, Barnga! Day two included mandatory sessions on understanding US nonprofits and international travel, health, and safety, followed by choose-your-own sessions on topics ranging from grant writing to avoiding marriage proposals. The Academy concluded with stories from DukeEngage Academy Leaders and remarks from DukeEngage Executive Director Eric Mlyn and President Vincent Price.

new for 2019

Five new programs launched or returned for summer 2019, focusing on diverse issues including education, conservation, sustainable energy, and more.

The goal of DukeEngage-Chicago was to help engage local youth in their communities using culturally relevant pedagogy, which recognizes the importance of including students’ cultural backgrounds, interests, and lived experiences while incorporating cultural references in all aspects of teaching and learning.

DukeEngage-Chicago participants visited WBEZ and met with Natalie M. Moore, journalist and author of "The South Side," which provides an insider's view on contemporary segregation in this well-known Chicago neighborhood.

DukeEngage-Peru, a collaboration between DukeEngage and Global Vision International, focused on conserving environmental resources. One of the main projects that students worked on during their time in Cusco was building a fence around the Media Luna wetland. The fence plays an important ecological function as it regulates access to essential water reserves, reduces water contamination, and improves water conservation.

DukeEngage-Peru participants perform the first step of wetland restoration: clearing the algal bloom from La Media Luna Lagoon.

The DukeEngage-Puerto Rico program focused on innovation and entrepreneurship in service of relief and recovery efforts related to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017. Throughout their eight-week experience, participants gained an appreciation for the complex demands of infrastructural redevelopment with limited resources.

DukeEngage-Rwanda participants worked with Growing Health, a farm-to-bedside nutrition program that provides farm-grown meals to hospitalized patients in need. In addition to helping prepare meals, DukeEngage students also developed informational materials for patient caregivers on nutrition, health, and sustainable farming practices.

The Growing Health farm produces organically grown food that staff use to prepare two nutritious meals a day for patients at University Teaching Hospital of Butare.

Returning after a two-year hiatus, DukeEngage-Uganda participants worked with Bringing Hope to the Family, a local faith-based organization focused on child and family education, community empowerment, and sustainable development.

a closer look

Clockwise, from top left: a sea turtle release in Thailand; visiting a wind turbine farm in Puerto Rico; biodiversity day in Costa Rica; and volunteering at Scrap Exchange reuse center in Durham, North Carolina.
Clockwise, from top left: teaching cooking classes at Kid’s Culinary Camp at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana; team-building at Detroit Food Academy; the annual nene (Hawaiian goose) survey at the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge in Kauai, Hawaii; and training local youth in Durham, North Carolina.
Clockwise, from top left: helping local Balghar instructors use Microsoft Excel in Ahmedabad, India; an icebreaker with the summer LEAH Mentors in Boston, Massachusetts; Equipo Impacto campaigning for SolCom in Sibilia, Guatemala; and welcoming families to Eureka! STEM summer camp in Orange County, California.
Clockwise, from top left: visiting NPR in Washington, DC; planting trees in Costa Rica; working at Inner City Muslim Action Network’s ‘Light in the Night’ event to reclaim "hot spots" in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood; and practicing Chinese in Zhuhai.

making a difference

In 2019, 341 Duke alumni, parents, and friends contributed more than $1 million to DukeEngage in gifts and pledges. A few gifts of note:

  • The family of DukeEngage-Kolkata alumna Chelsea Decaminada '15, who died May 4 from injuries sustained during terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, established a fund to support DukeEngage independent projects. To date, 100 supporters have contributed more than $47,000 in Chelsea's memory.
  • In honor of his last day, Peter Lange Executive Director of DukeEngage Eric Mlyn offered to match gifts from DukeEngage alumni, up to a total of $1,000. DukeEngage alumni responded generously, contributing $1,681 to the DukeEngage Opportunity Fund.
  • A record 83 DukeEngage alumni showed their ongoing support of DukeEngage in 2019, including 15 members of the Class of 2020 who havealready designated all or part of their Senior Gift to DukeEngage.

Visit dukeengage.duke.edu to learn more about DukeEngage, read student blogs, or make a gift to support this transformative program.