Green and Maxson: Inclusion is the key to working together Guest Column from ZSR and Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation


Published in the Winston-Salem Journal on April 24, 2016.

Over the past several decades, our foundations have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in North Carolina communities to help make our state a place where everyone can grow and contribute, to realize their human potential and become their best selves.

Each of us has a different set of strategies and approach to our work. Our foundations support a range of nonprofit organizations that provide services such as improving health, strengthening education, and supporting economic security, to ensure that residents of North Carolina have the opportunity to thrive.

Although our strategies and approaches may differ, we share a common set of values — among them fairness, inclusion and equity. Rooted in these values is a clear understanding that no North Carolina community can truly thrive when some of its members are denied opportunity to do so.

We believe that our shared values transcend political division, and that many North Carolinians feel the same. Therefore, we are deeply disappointed when state laws promote actions that are antithetical to these values.

The values of fairness, inclusion and equity are essential to our impact as charitable foundations. Much of our work as funders includes addressing some of North Carolina’s most pressing problems, lifting up communities that are most in need and supporting groups of people who are living on the margins. Because the needs are many, charitable efforts alone will never be enough to solve these issues completely. However, the investments we have made across North Carolina and the impacts of our collected charitable dollars have led us to make great strides. Yet, when laws are passed that open doors to discrimination and further marginalization of communities, it undermines our charitable investments. Laws that embrace our shared values add greater impact for the communities we serve.

Ultimately, we know that communities are built through dialogue and action, not only laws. When we know and understand our neighbors, even if we disagree with them, we are more likely to develop shared approaches to community challenges that will provide mutual benefit. When we recognize the values that we share are far more numerous than those that may divide us, we are more likely to learn from one another and move forward in ways that provide greater opportunity for all. If we act on our shared values as a state, we will build a North Carolina where everyone can truly thrive.

Maurice “Mo” Green, Executive Director, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
Justin Maxson, Executive Director, Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation