Only 8 miles of North Carolina roadway separates the UNC and Duke campuses, but the schools’ famous rivalry stretches across the country. It shows itself in Tar Heel spirit stores that sell Duke blue T-shirts with the word “Douche” emblazoned on the front and in Facebook groups with titles like “UNC Sucks – Go Duke” that boast over 13,000 members.
Despite this rigid sense of competition, the Kenan Biddle Partnership proves that UNC and Duke are not incompatible.
Founded in 2009, the Kenan Biddle Partnership strives to connect UNC and Duke by awarding $55,000 in grants each year to innovative initiatives led by teams with students from both universities. The UNC Campus Y manages the grant program and distributes funding provided by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.
“The philosophy of the Kenan Biddle Partnership is to build collaborative relationships between the campuses through the students, and to do so in a way that has a social impact in those communities,” Campus Y Executive Director Richard Harrill said. “The rivalry aside, there’s something about public benefit, doing good for the community, that brings out a different kind of competition – how we can have a collective impact by partnering together.”
The Bridge, an online publication that aims to provide a safe and creative space for minority women at UNC, Duke and other college campuses across the country, received a $12,000 grant from the Kenan Biddle Partnership in January 2018.
“By people knowing that we won the Kenan Biddle, we actually got a lot of new members because they knew we had resources to help further their careers and help them be creators,” said Nya Anthony, the UNC Bridge editor-in-chief. “I think that having access to these funds will kind of push the mission of The Bridge a little bit further so we can do more community outreach, more development of our content creators.”
For Anthony, being selected not only means additional resources for The Bridge, but also the ability to foster a new sense of unity among women of color.
“It's really interesting because we share a lot of the same experiences, being minority women at (primarily white institutions),” Anthony said. “Of course, there's a sports rivalry, but there's actually a lot of cross-collaboration when it comes to academic and cultural work. Although we are rivals, we are connected.”
Senior Bronson Boucher is co-president of Dive In: Carolina, another 2017-2018 Kenan Biddle Partnership grantee. The organization provides free swim lessons to children in Chapel Hill and Carrboro.