Strategic Assessment Overview

For nearly 80 years, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) has been a catalyst for positive change, working to improve the quality of life for all North Carolinians. The Foundation is dedicated to continuing a tradition of bold, forward-thinking vision and action that will make North Carolina an even better place to live and work.

ZSR has a deep and rich history of investing in nonprofit organizations across North Carolina. Today, it focuses on supporting organizations that are working to improve public education, preserve and protect the environment, promote economic opportunity for people of diverse backgrounds, engage more individuals in the democratic process, and elevate the dignity of all.

However, the Foundation recognizes that the context in which it currently operates is changing rapidly and in fundamental ways. For example, technology is transforming our personal and professional lives, the demographic makeup of our communities is shifting, and our cities are expanding quickly, while small towns and rural areas are often left behind.

Given the state’s changing landscape, ZSR sees this as an opportune time to determine how we can best serve North Carolina communities.

To this end, in May 2016, ZSR’s Board of Trustees made the decision to begin a year-long strategic assessment to examine and evaluate our current approach to grantmaking and broader work. At the end of this process, by May 2017, ZSR plans to produce a strategic plan that will guide the work of the Foundation moving forward.

As part of this assessment, the Foundation has launched Mo Wants to Know – a listening and learning tour during which ZSR’s new executive director, Maurice “Mo” Green, Trustees and staff will make their way across the state, for several months. The Foundation wants to hear directly from state leaders, local leaders and community members about trends and challenges, as well as opportunities, successes and ideas for making North Carolina a better place.

As part of Mo Wants to Know, ZSR Trustees and staff will spend time meeting with smaller, more targeted groups and working alongside experts to understand trends, research best practices and review ways in which the Foundation can make the most impact with the assets it has available.

All North Carolinians can submit ideas and share thoughts, suggestions, and recommendations with the Foundation through the website homepage; by going directly to; or visiting the Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter page, and using the hashtags #MoWantsToKnow and #EnvisionNC.

Because of the time-intensive nature of this process, Trustees have made a decision to suspend grantmaking for the Foundation’s Spring 2017 grant cycle, which typically runs from November to May with a February 1 application deadline. As a result, the Foundation will NOT be reviewing grant proposals during that time as it typically would do. ZSR staff will suspend our typical conversations regarding funding inquiries until Trustees announce the next grant cycle. We will provide more information regarding funding inquiries after June 1, 2017. To receive updates on the strategic planning process and the next grant cycle, please sign up for our quarterly update.

ZSR recognizes that our grantees are doing urgent and important work all across the state. ZSR also recognizes that there are new projects and/or unforeseen, unique and timely projects that deserve consideration for funding, even while ZSR is undergoing its strategic assessment and planning. Therefore, we plan to stay closely connected to our grantees and other North Carolina leaders throughout this process.

Review a list of Frequently Asked Questions that might be helpful in answering additional questions.

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