TreesDurham and Keep Durham Beautiful are the grateful recipients of a $100,000 grant from Duke Energy. The two organizations, already close partners in tree planting, will use these funds to increase environmental justice, improve the health of residents, and enhance sustainability across Durham through tree planting, education, and advocacy.

Clean air, lower crime, better health, wealth and happiness are just a few of the benefits that trees create for Durham. Not all residents have access to trees, and those neighborhoods with trees are losing them fast. With this boost from Duke Energy’s generous grant, diverse communities will come together over the next year to plant trees across our neighborhoods, focusing on districts which have historically suffered from environmental injustice stemming from high heat, dirty air, and no trees.

The primary goal of the grant is twofold: first to increase Durham’s tree canopy and secondly to directly engage communities across the city. The upcoming Trees Over Durham Forum will create a space for Durham residents to learn about trees and share their ideas about the future of trees in Durham. “This forum fosters conversations about the benefits trees bring to Durham and how residents want to see them used.” Katie Rose Levin, TreesDurham Executive Director, said. “During last year’s Forum over 120 residents attended and gave their opinions on what they would like to see us do. In 2019 we look forward to checking in to see how we are doing and reorienting our actions to make sure we are meeting the communities’ needs.”

“TreesDurham and Keep Durham Beautiful give people a chance to learn about the importance of trees and take part in the beautification of their neighborhoods,” said Indira Everett, Duke Energy community relations manager in Durham County. “We’re proud to support their sustainability efforts in the Durham community.”

Over the coming years residents will see more trees planted across Durham and will have opportunities to come together to create healthier communities. Trees significantly lower cooling costs during the summer, cutting electric bills in half in some cases, while simultaneously cleaning the air, thereby reducing incidents of asthma, stroke and heart attacks. Having a fully treed, shady street also creates community cohesion, lowering crime, and increasing a sense of well-being among residents.

All these benefits can be particularly important in mixed income communities, which is why the first tree planting is a result of a partnership between TreesDurham and the Durham Community Land Trust.  “Our tenants are thrilled to be getting these colorful, large trees, and were very interested in which type their neighbors had picked so they could coordinate them! They are already embracing the weekly watering responsibility, feeling blessed to have the beauty in their yards!” says Sandy Demeree, chair of the Community Engagement Committee.

The first tree planting will take place on December 15th, on East Piedmont Street. Partners include Duke Energy, Durham Community Land Trust, Keep Durham Beautiful and TreesDurham. Sign up at, and keep an eye on their calendar and for opportunities to plant, advocate, and educate Durham about trees!

TreesDurham was started by a group of residents concerned about the death of our beautiful willow oaks. We have been working with Duke Energy to address concerns about pruning practices in Durham. As a result of this partnership, Duke Energy generously donated $80,000 to Keep Durham Beautiful to help replant trees under powerlines in 2017. Keep Durham Beautiful’s Executive Director, Tania Dautlick helped bring TreesDurham to life, and like a tree, the organization and the partnership is growing stronger and bigger every year.

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