Accepting Applications for ZSR's Community Progress Fund Grant opportunity to support local communities by providing short-term funding to help move an existing issue, idea or organization forward


The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is now accepting applications for its Community Progress Fund.

Sometimes, a local organization, idea, issue or project needs that extra boost at just the right time to continue to make progress toward an end goal. ZSR’s Community Progress Fund seeks to support local communities by making time-limited investments at key moments and is intended to build on existing momentum to help move an issue, idea or organization forward.

The Progress Fund allows communities to test ideas, expand promising efforts or achieve greater impact. ZSR hopes that engaging with community members through the Progress Fund grant cycle will allow the Foundation to support communities and better understand how different communities experience change, opportunity and challenges in unique ways. Thus, the parameters for this approach are intentionally broad. In addition, ZSR desires to be accessible to areas of the state that have relatively higher needs and fewer resources, and to support and learn from those communities as described above. Consequently, preference will be given to those areas of the state.

The Foundation’s goal is to award a significant portion of grants to organizations that are run by and primarily serve people of color; therefore, ZSR strongly encourages applications from these organizations.

"ZSR believes that meaningful change is generated at the local level, where community members use their experiences and connections to people and places to improve the world around them," said Natalie Blake, ZSR Program Officer and co-lead of the Foundation’s Community-Based Strategy. "Our hope is to partner with organizations across the state to better understand each community’s unique assets and opportunities and ways in which ZSR can support community visions, plans and ideas to contribute to improving the lives of its residents."

ZSR will begin accepting Letters of Intent (LOIs) on October 1, 2019. ZSR will review LOIs and contact select applicants who will move to the next phase of the process. This includes ZSR staff scheduling visits in these communities in Spring 2020 to learn more about their proposals. Grant decisions will be made in May 2020. The grant period for grants awarded will begin in July 2020.

For more information about ZSR’s Community Progress Fund, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, visit: The deadline to apply for a Progress Fund grant is December 3, 2019 at 12:00 p.m. (noon).

Please note that submitting a Letter of Intent is the preliminary step in introducing a proposal
to ZSR. Therefore, it is not necessary to contact a ZSR staff member. Questions about ZSR’s Community Progress Fund should be directed to

ZSR’s Community Progress Fund is part of the Foundation’s Community-Based Strategy, which is one of three major strategies that comprise All For NC: Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation’s Framework for Grantmaking and Learning.

ZSR’s Community-Based Strategy also includes a Collaborative Problem-Solving approach, which makes awards to a limited number of community proposals that bring people together and allow them to self-define and tailor a path for creating positive change.

In 2019, as part of its Collaborative Problem-Solving approach, ZSR made five grants to organizations across the state to build collaborative, inclusive and resourceful communities. Over the next year, the Foundation is committing time and resources to supporting these grantees and developing a learning agenda alongside of them. As a result, the Foundation will not have a Collaborative Problem-Solving grant cycle in Spring 2020.