2020 brought an immense number of challenges for our country, communities, customers and employees. To provide relief, the Duke Energy Foundation adapted to support those in need providing a total of $31.9 million in charitable giving.
Duke Energy and its Foundation provided more than $8 million in support of hunger relief, local health and human services, educational initiatives, public utility assistance and small business relief. Initial giving focused on hunger relief, such as meals for seniors, children and families affected by school closings and in support of local health and human services organizations.
Giving shifted as needs grew to focus on public utility assistance across most of our service territory, feeding and supporting our critical health care workers in the Midwest and Duke Energy small business support. In addition, the Duke Energy Foundation provided more than $550,000 in assistance to qualified employees through the Relief4Employees program.
The racial injustice and social unrest highlighted the systemic racism and inequity many Americans face. The Duke Energy Foundation committed more than $2 million to social justice and racial equity organizations with $1 million in employee-directed grants.
Employees from an employee-led resource group, Advocates for African Americans, and from company Diversity and Inclusion Councils worked to identify local organizations. One hundred twenty organizations focused on reducing disparities, civic engagement and policy and criminal justice reform across the seven states where the company has natural gas and electric customers received funds.
A key focus of 2020 charitable giving was COVID-19 relief and racial equity. The Powerful Communities workforce and nature grants continued with a focus on how to best meet the community needs with the flexibility that 2020 demanded.
The company recognizes the needs are great for many. Duke Energy continues to look for ways to support our customers, communities and employees.