ZSR Announces Community-Based Strategy Grantees Two sets of grants totaling $2.5 million to support the work of local communities


The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is pleased to announce that Trustees have awarded $2.5 million in Community-Based Grants to communities across North Carolina.

ZSR’s Community-Based Strategy includes a Collaborative Problem-Solving approach and the Community Progress Fund. Trustees awarded five communities with Collaborative Problem-Solving grants totaling $1.3 million and $1.2 million to 34 organizations through the Community Progress Fund. ZSR’s Community-Based Strategy is one of three strategies that comprise All For NC: Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation’s Framework for Grantmaking and Learning.

ZSR believes that meaningful change is generated at the local level, where community members use their experiences and connections to people and places to improve the world around them. The Foundation launched a Community-Based Strategy in response to the requests it heard from those across the state, during its statewide listening and learning tour, about the importance of focusing on community-based approaches.

All Community-Based Strategy grants (both Collaborative Problem-Solving and Progress Fund), with brief descriptions, are listed below.

Collaborative Problem-Solving

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation awarded $1.3 million in Collaborative Problem-Solving grants to five communities across the state. ZSR’s Collaborative Problem-Solving approach is intended to bring people together and allow them to self-define and tailor a path for creating positive change.

“ZSR believes that the more communities engage the many different views, voices and experiences in tackling a community challenge, the more resonant and innovative the solution,” said James Gore, senior program officer with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “ZSR’s Collaborative Problem-Solving grantees are using inclusive, collaborative and resourceful processes to authentically engage their communities in tackling challenges and creating solutions.”

While each collaborative has multiple community partners, the organizations listed below are the primary program leads for each Collaborative Problem-Solving grant:

  • Gaston Family Health Services, Gastonia, NC – The collaborative includes neighborhood residents and nonprofit agencies that are addressing severe food access issues in the Highland community with the goal of developing fresh food enterprises to create new jobs and tackle poor health outcomes such as obesity and hypertension.
  • Health Education Foundation of Eastern NC (Area L AHEC), Rocky Mount, NC – The collaborative brings communities together in order to support people’s healing from adversity and to promote resiliency. The collaborative works alongside local agencies to examine systems and build a shared understanding of the underlying patterns driving realities. Through presentations and trainings, the collaborative teaches evidence-based best practices that reduce punishment and recurrence of negative coping behaviors, such as violence, school suspension, and substance use.
  • West Side CLT (West Side Community Land Trust), Charlotte, NC – The collaborative is comprised of residents who are organizing to permanently preserve affordable housing and combat gentrification through community-centered development in West Charlotte. Currently, Charlotte has a deficit of 34,000 affordable housing units and weak upward economic mobility.
  • YWCA of Asheville and Western NC, Asheville, NC – The collaborative is working to eliminate policies and practices that perpetuate racial profiling and the over-criminalization of people of color and other marginalized communities, as well as supporting efforts to provide law enforcement with tools and resources to address the role that bias and institutional practices play in their interactions in communities.
  • Town of Beaufort, Beaufort, NC – The collaborative (civic groups, educational institutions, local government), along with supporting experts and resources, will 1) engage with/work with the diverse communities of Eastern Carteret County to define what resilience means to them, 2) develop a shared understanding of community resilience across geographic, racial, and social divides, and 3) implement a process for supporting community resilience through cross-community groups. Challenges to be addressed may include storm readiness, economic development and opportunity, access to mental health and addiction services, and others to be identified as part of the collaborative problem-solving process.

In adhering to ZSR’s commitment to equity, a significant portion of these Collaborative Problem-Solving grants support efforts that actively enhance racial and economic equity. ZSR will also co-create a learning agenda alongside our Collaborative Problem-Solving grantees to better understand the assets and challenges of various parts of the state as well as understand ways in which communities are coming together to address those challenges.

Learn more about ZSR’s Collaborative Problem-Solving approach. 

Community Progress Fund

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation awarded $1.2 million to 34 organizations through a Community Progress Fund. The Progress Fund seeks to support local communities by making time-limited investments at key moments by building on existing momentum to help move a project, issue, idea, or organization forward.

“Sometimes, a local organization, idea, issue or project needs an extra boost at just the right time to continue to make progress toward an end goal,” said Natalie Blake, program officer with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “ZSR’s Progress Fund grantees have been provided with an infusion of short-term funding at a key moment in order to build on existing momentum to help move a project, issue, idea or organization forward.”

Below are organizations that have been awarded a Community Progress Fund grant and a brief description of their proposed work:

  • Action Pathways (Fayetteville, Cumberland County) to expand its programs to provide fresh produce to communities, especially those impacted by Hurricane Florence. Action Pathways is a Second Harvest Food Bank site.
  • Atkins (S.G.) Community Development Corporation (Winston-Salem, Forsyth County) to create economic opportunity in depressed neighborhoods near Winston-Salem State University.
  • Bookmarks (Winston-Salem, Forsyth County) to help support “Book Build,” an effort to provide 25,000 new, recently published, and culturally relevant books in all the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School libraries (310 books per school) by 2020.
  • Charlotte Community Services Association (Charlotte, Mecklenburg County) to support a feasibility study and licensing effort aimed at increasing the amount and quality of childcare programming in the Beatties Ford Road Corridor.
  • Cleveland County Community Development Corporation (Shelby, Cleveland County) to expand its financial education and homebuyer counseling classes in Gaston and Lincoln counties, including one-on-one counseling.
  • Communities in Partnership (Durham, Durham County) to create economic stability and community autonomy by engaging and organizing the members of its fresh food co-op, addressing the issue of limited affordable housing, and increasing wealth through workforce development opportunities.
  • Community Focus Foundation, Inc. (Brevard, Transylvania County) to secure permanent signage to recognize local sites that are important to Rosenwald, a predominantly African American community near Brevard, to create a mural showing the historical significance of the area, and to incorporate African American history walking tours through the African American Storyline Project.
  • Community Industry Value Interactionist League (Greenville, Pitt County) to support leadership development, civic engagement, and training for at-risk youth.
  • Compañeros Inmigrantes de las Montañas En Accion (Asheville, Buncombe County) to launch a new umbrella organization called Fuerza Colectiva, which is made up of six Latinx-led grassroots organizations in Asheville that are working to tackle important community issues.
  • CORRAL Riding Academy (Cary, Wake County) to expand its model of delivering long-term healing, transformational life-changing, equine-assisted psychotherapy interventions to teenage girls in high-risk situations who have experienced trauma.
  • Culture Mill, Inc. (Saxapahaw, Alamance County) to support a collaborative effort with the Saxapahaw Social Justice Exchange that is focused on providing multi-racial conversation spaces and hosting cultural events for people of color in the community.
  • Edgecombe County Public Schools (Tarboro, Edgecombe County) to build public will and skills around providing students opportunities to foster a more self-directed learning environment through curriculum choices and student-designed projects.
  • F.A.R.M. Cafe, Inc. (Boone, Watauga County) to expand its pilot F.A.R.M. Full Circle program, which creates value-added products from several tons of food recovered yearly from farmers and produce vendors, seeking to reduce food insecurity and food waste in Watauga County.
  • Food Bank of the Albemarle (Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County) to expand its Fresh Produce Initiative, which sources unharvested produce to provide meals to thousands of food insecure families in 15 northeast NC counties.
  • Green Rural Redevelopment, Inc. (Henderson, Vance County) to address persistently challenging health trends across the region by supporting the expansion of its successfully piloted Prescription Produce Program, the launch of a Pediatric Produce Prescription Program, and the expansion of a double-bucks match for both programs, all supported by the organization’s expansion of micro-market farming and growing local produce.  
  • GrowingChange.Org (Laurinburg, Scotland County) to transform a closed prison in Wagram, NC, into a sustainable farm and to create an open source model for reclaiming rural prisons.
  • Hispanic Liaison of Chatham County (Siler City, Chatham County) to expand and open a satellite office in Sanford, NC.
  • Historic Neely School Foundation, Inc. (China Grove, Rowan County) to develop a community center building and park at the site of a restored, African American schoolhouse in the Neelytown community of China Grove, NC.
  • Hola Community Arts (Hendersonville, Buncombe County) to launch a Cultural Arts Center in Henderson County that will create year-round arts and cultural engagement, educational opportunities, entrepreneurship, and community development.
  • Holts Chapel Community Center, Inc. (Oriental, Pamlico County) to restore a historic African American Rosenwald School into a modern community center that will serve as a resource for educational, cultural, economic, and health programs in Pamlico County.
  • Leading Into New Communities, Inc. (Wilmington, New Hanover County) to support a farm manager position to increase revenue and better serve impacted food desert communities and to strengthen the efficacy of its vocational training program at the Marvin E. Roberts Transitional campus.
  • Men and Women United for Youth and Families, Inc. (Delco, Columbus County) to expand its Youth Ambassador program which instills leadership, entrepreneurship and communication skills in local teens through a mentorship-based system that promotes a more just, equitable local food economy.
  • Muddy Sneakers, Inc. (Brevard, Transylvania County) to support the launch of a new field office in New Bern to serve the southeastern coastal region and work with 1,000 fifth grade students in public elementary schools in seven coastal counties to enhance their science curriculum and provide outdoor environmental education.
  • Neighbors for Better Neighborhoods (Winston-Salem, Forsyth County) to support community engagement and organizing in the Walnut Tree community with the long-term goal of building a community center.
  • Parents of African American Children (Durham, Durham County) to promote equitable education and initiatives that eliminate the achievement gap, foster student directed ownership of “success,” and empower parents of African American children through convenings, trainings, and workshops that aim to increase parental engagement and advocacy.
  • Southwestern Child Development Commission, Inc. (Webster, Jackson County) to expand the Nurse-Family Partnership to three rural counties experiencing an increase in the rise of opioid abuse particularly for low-income women with limited access to prenatal resources.
  • Strategic Twin-Counties Education Partnership (Rocky Mount, Nash County) to improve the educational and workforce opportunities for students in the Nash-Edgecombe County area from cradle to career by facilitating collaboration between schools, community colleges, community-based organizations, and employers.
  • Town of Matthews (Matthews, Mecklenburg County) to complete a walking trail connecting the historic African American neighborhood of Crestdale to additional greenway trails and historic downtown Matthews.
  • Triangle Bikeworks, Inc. (Carrboro, Orange County) to hire a program manager to reach out to an additional 80 middle and high school low-income youth of color in Orange and Durham counties through targeted and strategic partnerships with the school districts and other nonprofit organizations.
  • True Ridge Ministries (Hendersonville, Henderson County) to pilot a new program focused on lowering the incidences of domestic and sexual violence in the Latinx communities in Henderson and Polk counties through workshops for both men and women.
  • United Way of Greater High Point (High Point, Guilford County) to launch a new Food Security Fund initiative by implementing and supporting innovative, sustainable food solutions in the community through the Greater High Point Food Alliance.
  • Western NC Workers’ Center (Morganton, Burke County) to support the predominantly immigrant poultry worker community in Western North Carolina by building power and supporting long-term leadership development within these communities, while also improving regulatory enforcement and day-to-day quality of life and workplace conditions.
  • Wilson Community Improvement Association, Inc. (Wilson, Wilson County) to transform an abandoned building and adjacent lot in the African American community of East Wilson into a food justice, workforce, and cultural gathering place to advance the neighborhood's redevelopment.
  • Working Landscapes (Warrenton, Warren County) to build out and organize a collaborative food system across an eight-county area in Northeast NC through technical assistance, small grants and peer learning visits in order to build relationships and increase understanding among stakeholders.

In adhering to ZSR’s commitment to racial equity, a significant portion of these grants have been awarded to organizations that are led by and primarily serving people of color. Over time, ZSR will work to capture and share the stories of some of our Progress Fund grantees, through video or multi-media, to showcase the good, and important, work they are doing in their communities.

Learn more about ZSR’s Community Progress Fund

When ZSR launched its Community-Based Strategy in October 2018, the Foundation received an overwhelming number of Proposal Summaries (239) for Collaborative Problem-Solving and Letters of Intent (246) for the Community Progress Fund. Selected Proposal Summaries and Letters of Intent received an invitation to submit a full application by March 2019. Grant decisions were made in May 2019.

Questions about ZSR’s Community-Based Strategy should be directed to info@zsr.org.