Spring is right around the corner. I hope you are getting to enjoy more sunshine and warmer temperatures where you live across the state.
It has been a busy few months at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. Trustees and staff met in February and will continue to meet in 2018 to continue the design and development of the strategies of the emerging direction.
As you will recall, in June 2017, after a yearlong strategic assessment and planning process, we provided an update on our emerging direction, which is comprised of three major strategies: a state-level strategy, a community-based strategy, and an exploratory, visionary ideas strategy. We also have committed to being a learning organization, augmenting our participation in our hometown of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, adhering to our core values, and using a racial equity lens to underpin all of our work.
In addition, we held our fall 2017 grant cycle, which marked the beginning of our transition to the emerging direction and was the final grant cycle based on our previous focus area descriptions. Trustees made the decision not to have a traditional spring 2018 grant cycle so that we could continue to focus on the development and implementation of ZSR’s emerging direction.
In early March, the Foundation convened a group of thought leaders from across the state to help us think through the design and development of our state-level systemic change strategy. Due to the sheer number of grantees that the Foundation currently funds, which is more than 200, we could not bring everyone together to have a meaningful discussion. Therefore, we brought together a group who represented a broad swath of issue areas and constituencies.
When we provided an update on our emerging direction in June 2017, we mentioned that moving forward, not all the Foundation’s work would be guided by focus areas, rather part of it might be. During a daylong session, the group brainstormed the Foundation’s potential state-level areas of focus and how the Foundation can help organizations work together better. It was a productive day that will certainly help inform the work of the Foundation as we move forward with continuing to design and develop this strategy.
While we were only able to bring together a small number of grantees to this gathering, we want to take a moment to thank all the Foundation’s grantees. We continue to remain grateful to all of them for the incredible work they are doing across North Carolina. Their work is the reason we do ours.
We have also been busy with other work at the Foundation.
As part of our ongoing commitment to being a learning organization, in February, the Foundation brought together its Community Leadership Council to begin taking a deeper dive into the topic of gender equity and the intersections of race and gender. As an organization that has been learning about and promoting racial equity for years, this is one of the areas that we would like to explore more as we move forward. Our two-day meeting with the Community Leadership Council provided a diverse array of perspectives and good insights that will greatly benefit the Foundation’s continued learning in this area.
Also in February, the Foundation received more than 360 applications for its Non-Profit Internship Program (NPIP). Established in 2011, and to diversify the pool of aspiring, young nonprofit professionals, NPIP awards college students paid summer internships and matches them with organizations that participating foundations have funded across the state. NPIP addresses inequities in the pipeline of future nonprofit professionals by removing barriers for talented young people who otherwise could not take an unpaid position. This year, the Foundation has partnered with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Foundation for a Healthy High Point, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, Weaver Foundation, The Winston-Salem Foundation, and Democracy Fund to provide 39 summer internships to college students across North Carolina. Host organizations are currently reviewing applications and will select their interns in early April.
While much continues to happen here at the Foundation, as we've promised, we plan to stay closely connected to all of you, especially as we glean more information and begin rolling out each of the strategies of the emerging direction. In the meantime, we also hope that you will continue to call on us with any questions or concerns.
Update from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Mo Green provides an update on the Foundation's work