ZSR Announces Spring 2020 Grant Awards Trustees award State-Level Systemic Change Strategy grants and Community Progress Fund grants totaling $2.3 million to 43 organizations across NC


Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is pleased to announce its Spring 2020 grant awards under its All For NC Framework for Grantmaking and Learning. In May 2020, ZSR’s Board of Trustees awarded State-Level Systemic Change Strategy grants and Community Progress Fund grants totaling $2.3 million to 43 organizations across North Carolina.

The Foundation awarded State-Level Systemic Change Strategy grants totaling more than $1.1 million to eight organizations across the state. ZSR’s State-Level Systemic Change Strategy supports state, regional and local organizations, coalitions, or collaboratives that are working to achieve systemic change at the state level within and across the following priority areas: Advancing Public Education, Fostering a Healthy and Sustainable Environment, Promoting Social and Economic Justice, and Strengthening Democracy.

“For decades, ZSR has supported positive changes to state-level systems and structures to ensure that North Carolina is a place where all people can thrive,” said Tania Durán, program officer and co-lead of ZSR’s State-Level Systemic Change Strategy. “Though we are facing unprecedented times and know that there is still much work to do together, we are committed to ensuring that all North Carolinians have access to high-quality education, benefit from a healthy and sustainable environment, enjoy economic opportunity under just and fair rules and are able to engage fully in civic life. We stand behind our grantee partners who are working at the state level to make significant gains in these areas,” said Sorien Schmidt, senior program officer and co-lead of ZSR’s State-Level Systemic Change Strategy.

Organizations awarded State-Level Systemic Change Strategy grants in the Spring 2020 cycle are listed below in alphabetical order under each priority area. ZSR’s Spring cycle is closed and by invitation.

Advancing Public Education

NC Justice Center
Fair Funding and Policies for and by Communities of Color project
NC Justice Center
North Carolina Communities for the Education of Every Child project
Southern Coalition for Social Justice
Education Justice Alliance project
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill
Carolina College Advising Corps Access Institute project

Fostering a Healthy and Sustainable Environment

Urban Sustainability Directors Network
North Carolina Network of the Southeast Sustainability Directors Network (SSDN) project

Promoting Social and Economic Justice

Conservatives for Criminal Justice Reform
General operating support
Legal Aid of NC, Inc.
Home Defense Project

Strengthening Democracy

Elon University
North Carolina Campus Compact/North Carolina Collegiate Citizenship Project (NC-CCP)
NC Community Foundation, Inc.

North Carolina Local News Lab Fund project

Southern Coalition for Social Justice
North Carolina CROWD (Community Redistricting Organizations Working for Democracy) Academies project

In addition, Trustees awarded nearly $1.2 million in Community Progress Fund grants to 35 organizations across the state. ZSR's Community Progress Fund, which is a part of ZSR’s Community-Based Strategy, is designed to provide an infusion of short-term funding at the right moment and is intended to build on existing momentum to help move an issue, an idea or an organization forward.

“ZSR’s Community Progress Fund is intended to support local projects by making time-limited investments in communities at key moments in time as organizations make progress toward an end goal,” said Natalie Blake, program officer and co-lead of ZSR’s Community-Based Strategy. “We are so grateful to be in partnership with these 35 organizations who are using such a diverse array of strategies to serve and support communities across the state,” said James Gore, senior program officer and co-lead of ZSR’s Community-Based Strategy.

Progress Fund grants awarded, with brief descriptions and the communities these projects will serve are listed below.

Asheville Buncombe Community Land Trust (Buncombe) to hire its first full-time executive director to strengthen the organizational infrastructure of the Land Trust, which works to ensure permanent affordability and community control of land (homeownership, rental and commercial opportunities) to address affordable housing issues in Buncombe County, particularly for communities of color.

Carolina Small Business Development Fund (Caswell, Person) to support its partnership with Piedmont Community College through the Building Opportunities on Savings and Training (BOOST) program, which provides technical assistance and startup financing to entrepreneurs in Person and Caswell counties at Piedmont Community College.

Caswell County Government (Caswell) to introduce an evidence-based intervention that provides advocacy and tailored assistance to women and children who have survived domestic abuse.

Center for Science Technology and Leadership Development, Inc. (Edgecombe, Martin, Pitt) to expand and replicate its Medical Academies and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) afterschool and summer camp programs for grades 3-12 in Edgecombe, Martin and Pitt counties.

Charlotte Bilingual Preschool, Inc. (Mecklenburg) to support a full-time behavioral specialist to work with students in the classroom and collaborate with teachers and families to develop individualized, aligned intervention strategies.

Columbus County Partnership for Children (Columbus) to hire a coordinator for its collaborative of 45 agencies working to educate the public about the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Resilience.

Concerned Citizens of Tillery (Halifax) to develop programming and train staff for monthly community tours, cultural celebrations and historical activities at the Remembering Tillery History Museum in Halifax County.

Crosby Scholars Community Partnership (Forsyth) to establish its Latino Males Success Program to develop and sustain a research-informed, culturally relevant mentoring program that advances the success of Latino males across the educational pipeline in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Dare County Education Foundation, Inc. (Dare) to offset the costs of training and professional development for school district leaders and educators on the importance of culturally competent teaching and leadership in the increasingly diversifying Outer Banks communities.

FaithAction International House (Guilford) to hire a director of community education and advocacy; coordinate trips to immigration detention centers in Georgia; and continue providing direct emergency support to families at risk of homelessness.

Farm Labor Research Project (Caswell, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Granville, Halifax, Harnett, Greene, Johnston, Sampson, Lenoir, Nash, Wayne, Wilson) to engage in a campaign to fight corruption among H2 Labor Contractors, certain contractors under the visa system, in the agricultural industry.

Franklinton Center at Bricks, Inc. (Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash) to identify and train at least 150 social justice champions in Edgecombe, Halifax and Nash counties through innovative and responsive social justice activities, programs and trainings as well as hold a summer social justice leadership institute for 30 young persons aged 16-18 and work with area school systems to identify ways to incorporate social justice ideas into academic programs.

Franklin-Vance-Warren Opportunity (Franklin, Granville, Nash, Vance, Warren) to develop the entrepreneurial skills of youth so they can fully partake in the modern and changing economy and benefit from other job and housing opportunities in their counties.

Greensboro Housing Coalition, Inc. (Guilford) to hire a part-time housing case manager to support the pilot and full-scale implementation of the Eviction Resolution Project of Greater Greensboro NC, developed in collaboration with Legal Aid of NC and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s Center for Housing & Community Studies and Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships. 

Hope Vibes, Inc. (Mecklenburg) to launch and operate its first mobile “Hope Tank,” which will provide access to hygiene and clean clothes for homeless neighbors and others in extreme poverty. The Hope Tank will have two bathrooms, complete with a shower, sink and toilet in each unit and a laundry room with four washer/dryer sets.

Kinston Teens (Lenoir) to support the ONE Lenoir Alliance – a recently formed partnership between NC Field, Kinston Teens and Kinston Community Health Center – to address food insecurity and health challenges in farmworker and African American communities.

LIFE of NC (Pitt) to expand its reentry program to serve women and people over age 45 and create specialized programming to serve these constituencies when reentering communities.

LYFE Three (Craven) to help the organization transition into its own building to provide services to youth in the community, including but not limited to, character and leadership development, emotional intelligence training, conflict resolution skill-building activities, leadership best practices, and entrepreneurship opportunities.

NC 100 (Alamance, Durham, Guilford, Rockingham, Wake) to organize a network of 25 grassroots organizations around the goal of increasing the capacity in and around Rockingham County to promote community development and equity.

NC Black Alliance, Inc. (Beaufort, Bladen, Columbus, Craven, Cumberland, Duplin, Edgecombe, Forsyth, Guilford, Lee, Lenoir, Nash, Onslow, Pasquotank, Pitt, Rowan, Wayne, Washington, Wilson) to hire staff to organize the Divine 9 Greek lettered fraternity and sorority community in North Carolina.

North End Community Coalition (Mecklenburg) to advance community engagement in eight neighborhoods north of Uptown Charlotte by developing and facilitating strategies to address social and economic inequality through programming that advances knowledge, access and builds community capacity.

PAWSS, Inc. (Robeson) to support the hiring of staff and consultants to implement a diversion program across Robeson County focused on averting long-term prison sentences for individuals suffering from substance use and mental health disorders and redirect offenders and ex-offenders to effective treatment and transitional programs that guide and assist their recovery and stability.

Pigeon Community Development Center (Haywood) to provide operational staff support to the organization, whose mission is to strengthen harmony among residents of the county through programming for low-income residents of all ages.

Rebuild Durham, Inc. (Vance) for its Rebuild Communities NC project which will provide aspiring entrepreneurs, small businesses and individuals, who face barriers to employment, with training in the Ice House Entrepreneurial Mindset program, to encourage economic and social investment in Vance County.

Shiloh Community Association (Buncombe) to continue the work of the E.W. Pearson Project Collaborative, which consists of four African American-centered grassroots organizations – in Buncombe County and the City of Asheville – to address issues such as small business development, educational enrichment & tutoring, food sustainability and neighborhood enhancement.

Southern Pines Land & Housing Trust Inc. (Moore) to redevelop the Southern Pines Primary School, a former Rosenwald School, for the benefit of the community such that it honors, celebrates, shares and leverages the West Southern Pines Black history, culture and values.

Stokes County Arts Council, Inc. (Stokes) to purchase and install a professional, high-quality sound system in The Arts Place of Stokes, a multi-purpose cultural arts community venue.

Surry County Schools (Surry) to cover the cost of 60 students to participate in its Next Generation Career Academy Internship Program.

Towncreek Vision Corporation (Brunswick) to provide construction skills through instructional training and hands-on experience to residents in Brunswick County to help address the lack of qualified construction workers and need for well-paying jobs.

Tyrrell County Community Development Corporation (Hyde, Tyrrell, Washington) for personnel, overhead and materials while it works on expungement and driver’s license restoration matters, as well as community capacity building and workforce development.

United Way of Rutherford County, Inc. (Rutherford) to hire a part-time individual(s) to facilitate (non-therapeutic) group discussions that address social issues, mental wellness, community concerns, and emerging issues in order to connect individuals to resources, organize community activities with other agencies such as health screenings, and assess needs regarding other social determinants of health.

Unity in the Community (Polk, Rutherford) to expand its programming to bring about social development among underserved populations, particularly African American adults and children, in Polk County.

Wells Center, Inc. (Forsyth) to extend its pre-release and mentoring program to make available a community post-release program for women offenders released from jail and prison, as well as hire a Success Coach and Financial Manager who will oversee client tracking and other portions of the program.

West Martin Alumni Association, Inc. (Martin) to install an HVAC system in the West Martin Community Center’s gymnasium and renovate its bathrooms to be ADA compliant, which are located in a national historic African American school that is now a gathering place in the predominantly African American area of rural, Western Martin County.  

Wilkes Community Partnership for Children (Wilkes) to hire an additional staff person and make improvements to its mobile produce truck, expanding its ability to provide fresh produce to low-income residents in Wilkes County.