It is hard to believe that I am quickly approaching six-months at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. As I have made my way across North Carolina, I have met hundreds of dedicated individuals who are committed to making our State a better place. Learning from you and hearing about the work you are doing in your communities continues to leave me both inspired and hopeful about the future.
I am also delighted to share with you some of what the Foundation has been up to since we embarked upon our strategic assessment and launched Mo Wants to Know. It is an exciting time to be a part of this institution as we are making history.
As I mentioned in my last update, with all of the shifts happening across North Carolina – demographically, economically and technologically, to name a few – in May 2016, Foundation Trustees decided that it would be a good time for us to take a step back and embark on a yearlong strategic assessment to examine and evaluate our current approach to grantmaking and broader work. This also meant that we would halt our Spring 2017 grant cycle to spend concentrated efforts learning and understanding how the State has changed in order to help inform our work moving forward.
As part of the assessment, the Foundation also launched Mo Wants to Know – a statewide listening and learning tour during which Trustees, staff and I will 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, we have held four community gatherings in Winston-Salem, Charlotte, Asheville and Durham. Another will take place in Raleigh later this month, and then we will embark on a series of listening and learning sessions in other parts of the State.
These gatherings have been a wonderful way to connect with members of the community and hear their thoughts on the following question we are posing:
What are your game changing ideas and innovative solutions that the Foundation can explore in order to make North Carolina a better place?
We are asking that all North Carolinians consider sending ideas through our online portal or by visiting our Facebook and Twitter pages and using the hashtags #MoWantsToKnow and #EnvisionNC.
Over the past few months, ideas have been pouring in.
Through social media, we’ve heard about alternatives to school discipline through restorative justice efforts and learned more about support structures in place for children who have been diagnosed with rare diseases.
Through the online portal, you’ve identified a whole host of ideas including, but not limited to: challenges and opportunities facing our veterans and Latino communities; families of children that struggle with mental illness; clean water; affordable housing; leadership in teacher education; substance abuse recovery programs; adding in Arts to make STEM, STEAM; and breaking the cycles of poverty.
The list goes on and we are encouraged by your insights and knowledge as well as your steadfast determination to make North Carolina an even better place to live.
We hope you will keep sending us your thoughts as we are learning from you and absorbing all of your wisdom. Your recommendations and suggestions, along with the discussions we plan to have during this tour, will help the Foundation determine how it can best respond to the changing needs of the State. All of the information we collect from research, conversations with community members and experts, will influence the development of a strategic plan that we plan to release in May 2017.
As I mentioned earlier, this is an exciting time for the Foundation. We hope that you too will come along with us on this journey.
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the work we are doing around the strategic assessment, we invite you to contact the Foundation at any time.
Thank you for all you do.
Update on ZSR's Strategic Assessment Mo Green provides an update on the Foundation's process and progress