WWF & Duke receive $25M to support conservation and environmental education programs

Photo: World Wildlife Fund
Jeff and Laurie Ubben

WASHINGTON, D.C. – World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Duke University today announced a $25 million gift from Jeff and Laurie Ubben.

Of the total, $20 million will support WWF’s wildlife conservation programs, and $5 million will support environmental research and education at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.

The Ubbens’ gift will allow WWF to act on some of the most urgent global conservation issues, such as reducing the demand for illegal ivory in China, protecting wildlife and strengthening the ability of local communities to conserve the natural resources so critical to their livelihoods.

The gift also supports a partnership between WWF and Duke’s Nicholas School to identify novel solutions that support conservation and sustainable development, and make these new tools and approaches accessible to conservationists and environmental managers worldwide.

Jeff and Laurie Ubben are both alumni of Duke, and Jeff is a member of Duke’s Board of Trustees. They said their gift is inspired by their love of nature and their desire to leave a better planet for their children.

“Jeff and I feel strongly about protecting the environment,” said Laurie Ubben. “We’re energized by the important work WWF and Duke are doing to safeguard our planet. Now more than ever, we believe these initiatives must be supported.”

“Jeff and Laurie do not mess around when it comes to conservation,” said WWF President and CEO Carter Roberts. “You can see the difference their philanthropy has made in bringing the ivory trade to an end in key markets, and in bridging research with real world solutions. The Ubbens have sparked some of our most promising initiatives and partnerships. I’m grateful for their generosity and for their vision in driving sustainability at a scale that matters.”

“This far-sighted gift from two of Duke’s most dedicated alumni will enable us to pioneer a new model of collaboration between a university and a global conservation organization,” said Jeffrey Vincent, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School. “I am especially excited by the opportunities it will create for our students, to be part of research and practice coming together to devise solutions for our planet’s toughest conservation problems. I am grateful to Jeff and Laurie for this remarkable investment in Earth’s future.”



WWF is one of the world’s leading conservation organizations, working in 100 countries for over half a century. With the support of almost 5 million members worldwide, WWF is dedicated to delivering science-based solutions to preserve the diversity and abundance of life on Earth, halt the degradation of the environment and combat climate change. Visit http://www.worldwildlife.org to learn more and follow our news conversations on Twitter @WWFNews.


Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment is one of the world’s premier institutions for environmental research and education. Our world-class faculty spans 45 different but integrated disciplines across the physical, life and social sciences. Our worldwide network of 5,300 graduates are leaders in their fields—capable of affecting change, spurring innovation and inspiring others to action. To learn more, visit http://www.nicholas.duke.edu or follow us @DukeEnvironment on Facebook,  Twitter or Instagram

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