North Carolina Local News Lab Fund Takes Lead Role in Press Forward Local Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation will co-chair Press Forward North Carolina under the leadership of the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund


Photo caption: Lizzy Hazeltine, Director of the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund, and Virgil Smith, ZSR Board President, at the Knight Media Forum, where Press Forward NC was announced in February 2024.


Today the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation jointly announce they will be the home of the local affiliate of Press Forward, marking the further expansion of the state’s news and information funding coalition.

Launched in 2023 by a coalition of national funders and donors, Press Forward aims to strengthen communities by infusing more than $500M into local news over the next five years. In December, Press Forward announced a network of local chapters: affiliates of the national initiative that are anchored and driven by local funders. Today, funding leaders in Colorado, Lancaster, Pa., Lexington, Ky., Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, San Antonio, South Florida, and Wyoming join the expanding network.

As the home of Press Forward North Carolina, the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund and state-based coalition will deepen ongoing partnership with regional and national funders while continuing to advance the vision of informed, connected, and thriving communities across North Carolina.

Local Leadership and a National Movement

Since 2017, the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund has taken a community-centered approach to investing in the state’s news and information ecosystem, while also facilitating collaboration among its more than 50 total grant partners and growing local-national funder coalition. To date, the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund has deployed more than $4 million in direct grants to 53 news and community organizations, while advising on nearly as much in aligned grantmaking. The reporting, distribution, and narrative work of these trusted messengers reaches nearly two-thirds of North Carolina’s counties, and half of all grant partners publish or operate in a language other than English. 

“In North Carolina and nationally, more funders are connecting the dots between supporting strong local journalism and advancing their overall impact,” said Lizzy Hazeltine, director of the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund. “In collaboration with Press Forward, we’re committed to bringing more funders into the fold in service of communities. When we take a collaborative approach and distribute funding where it’s needed most, all of our communities are better informed about their health, government, local educational and professional opportunities, and other essential news.”

Along with partners across 17 Press Forward Locals, the Fund and its network will:

  • Continue hosting funder huddles to share lessons learned about a pooled fund approach, funding for racial and class equity, and supporting non-traditional news and information organizations
  • Communicate the value and importance of funding an expansive set of roles in our news and information ecosystem
  • Convene ecosystem players for shared learning opportunities that will, in turn, benefit North Carolina’s communities

“Trust begins close to home, which is why Press Forward is dedicated to activating more funders to invest at the local level,” said Dale R. Anglin, the new director of Press Forward. “Place-based initiatives for local news ensure that funding is driven by community needs, and the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund is a proven model for impact. We’re looking forward to the impact this state-based coalition will create when working collaboratively with other local coalitions.”

Expanding and Deepening Work in North Carolina

The Fund continues to frame its grantmaking with a racial and class equity lens. Core to the Fund’s mission – both at its launch in 2017 and today, as the home of Press Forward North Carolina – is taking a community-centered approach to grantmaking that supports thriving North Carolina communities. This looks like:

  • Accelerating the growth of existing leaders in North Carolina’s news and information ecosystem.
  • Expanding the network by recognizing more organizations as the trusted messengers they are in their communities while bolstering newsrooms, all of whom are building the future of our information ecosystem.
  • Broadening and deepening the reach of our network across North Carolina’s communities by funding more leaders of color and narrowing geographic gaps in funding.

“At the Trust, we are investing in a diverse, equitable news and information ecosystem so that communities have trusted outlets where they can tell their stories and access information that impacts their day-to-day lives,” said Dr. Laura Gerald, President of the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. “Unfortunately, there are far too many news deserts—often impacting communities of color and rural areas—in North Carolina and the country. We are excited to join a national coalition of funders committed to closing these gaps and expanding access to local news.”

New Commitments to the Fund to Fuel Transformative Impact

In addition to the establishment of Press Forward North Carolina, several longstanding members of the Fund’s coalition—including the two Press Forward local co-chairs—have made new commitments to the Fund. The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and Democracy Fund have each committed new multi-year funding to the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund totaling $2.2 million. 

  • Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust committed $645,000 over three years (2023-2025)
  • Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation committed $600,000 over three years (2023-2025)
  • Democracy Fund committed $975,000 over three years (2023-2025)

“All North Carolinians benefit when we have the information we need to be active participants in the decisions that affect our lives,” said Joy Vermillion Heinsohn, Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “For years, the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund has been a leader and critical partner in strengthening the local news ecosystem in our state. Their work plays a key role in ensuring our democracy not only survives but thrives.”

The North Carolina Local News Lab Fund will announce its first round of grants for 2024 in the first quarter of the year.

For more information about the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund or Press Forward North Carolina, contact Lizzy Hazeltine at

About the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund
The North Carolina Local News Lab Fund is a pooled fund established in 2017 to ensure that everyone in North Carolina can find, trust, and use the high-quality news and information we need to thrive. The Fund invests in trusted messengers, facilitates connections among partners and funders, and amplifies insights within and beyond our network—all in service of a media system driven by local leaders and built on trust, access, and belonging. The Fund is housed at NEO Philanthropy. For more information about the NC Local News Lab Fund, contact Lizzy Hazeltine,

About the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust
The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust was established in 1947 and is now one of the largest private trusts in North Carolina. Our mission is to improve the health and quality of life of residents with low incomes in Forsyth County and around North Carolina. The Health Improvement in North Carolina program area supports equitable access to care and equitable health outcomes across the state. The Local Impact in Forsyth County program area works to foster an inclusive economy and improve the quality of life in Forsyth County. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. serves as sole trustee.

About Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is a statewide, private, family foundation dedicated to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians. ZSR strives to meet its mission by making grants to nonprofit organizations; convening and connecting people to facilitate learning and spark ideas; and helping to build the capacity of North Carolina’s nonprofit sector. Since its founding more than 85 years ago, the Foundation has invested more than $667 million in North Carolina. The Foundation is based in Winston-Salem, NC. 

About Press Forward
Press Forward is a national movement to strengthen our democracy by revitalizing local news and information. A coalition of funders is investing more than $500 million to strengthen local newsrooms, close longstanding gaps in journalism coverage, advance public policy that expands access to local news, and to scale the infrastructure the sector needs to thrive. For more, visit