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Statewide: Triangle region, August 2015

Oil wealth fuels Blue Heaven

For decades, the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust has been synonymous with higher-education giving, particularly at UNC Chapel Hill, where the organization makes its home. Founded in 1966 as a bequest of Kenan’s estate, the charity has multiple buildings, about 30 professorships, scholarships and other programs named in its honor at the campus, including the Kenan-Flagler Business School. That’s in addition to millions spent at more than 50 other universities, including 98 professorships (one at Duke, none at N.C. State University), and to fund innovative ideas in K-12 education.

The foundation’s roots are planted in good investments — and a little luck. Wilmington native William R. Kenan Jr. graduated from UNC in 1894, became a math and science teacher and, later, a chemical and engineering consultant. His oldest sister, Mary Lily, married Henry Morrison Flagler, a founder of Standard Oil, in 1901. By 1917, the Flaglers had died, leaving much of their fortune to Kenan and his two other sisters. When he died in 1965, Kenan’s estate was valued at about $100 million, mostly stock in Standard Oil — now Exxon Mobil. He didn’t have any children, so almost all of the money went to the trust, which had assets of $626 million on June 30, 2014, according to its most recently disclosed report.

The Kenan Charitable Trust directs donations to four areas: education, arts and arts education, basic human needs and “other initiatives.” During the 2013-14 fiscal year, it awarded $13.5 million across 72 grants, including $6.4 million for education and $5.5 million for food banks and other basic needs. Over time, the trust has donated more than $485 million.

The trust doesn’t accept unsolicited proposals, saving it from time spent sifting through grant applications that will likely be denied.  “That’s a way to be more targeted and look at what the problems are and come at those from a strategic standpoint,” says Ret Boney, executive director of the N.C. Network of Grantmakers in Raleigh.

The organization is in transition after former Executive Director Richard Krasno, who led the trust since 1999, retired in December. His predecessor was former UNC System President William C. Friday. Assistant Executive Director Douglas Zinn stepped into the top spot in January.

One of the largest programs funded in recent years is the Kenan Primary Care Medical Scholars (pictured), which aims to improve rural access to health care in North Carolina. Started in 2013 with a $3 million endowment, UNC School of Medicine students can apply to earn a $10,000 yearly scholarship and six-week internships at family practices in Linville, Robbinsville and other small towns. It marks the first investment in medicine by the foundation. So far, classes have included five to seven students. “I am interested to see if students who are part of the first class will match to a residency program that is primary-care driven,” program director Amanda Greene says.

Other recent large donations have included $5 million to UNC to renovate the music department’s Hill Hall, $1 million for San Francisco-based charter-school network KIPP Foundation, and $1 million for New York-based Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership, part of The City College of New York.


Briefs

DURHAMInteractive Intelligence plans to create 200 jobs and invest $1.2 million over five years. The Indianapolis-based company develops software and cloud-based services for midsized and large companies. The new jobs will pay an average annual salary of $70,000, higher than Durham County’s $58,231. The company employs about 2,000 people worldwide, including more than 100 in Durham. It could receive a state grant of more than $1.6 million if it meets job-creation goals.

RALEIGHRed Hat named Frank Calderoni chief financial officer. He replaces Charlie Peters, CFO since 2004, who announced his retirement in December. Calderoni worked at San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems from 2004 to 2014, including seven years as CFO. He also worked for IBM, SanDisk and QLogic.

CARYProto Labs will invest $25 million and create 170 jobs over five years in a 3-D printing operation. The new jobs will pay an average annual salary of $44,118, compared with Wake County’s $48,875. The Maple Plain, Minn.-based injection-molding manufacturer paid about $38 million for Raleigh-based FineLine Prototyping in April 2014 and employs 106 in Raleigh.

RALEIGH — Brian Ralph becomes the 11th president of William Peace University this month.  Since 2003, Ralph was vice president for enrollment management at Queens University in Charlotte. He replaces Debra Townsley, who retired in June.

DURHAMChimerix raised about $150 million in a public stock offering. The drug developer plans to use the proceeds for research and development and general purposes. Its shares have more than doubled since the company went public in April 2013.

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