Community Economic Development

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is committed to a just, equitable, and sustainable economy that respects the dignity and worth of all. The Foundation believes that pervasive racial and gender wealth gaps too often deny our fellow North Carolinians a meaningful opportunity to fully participate in the state’s economy. With our limited resources, the Foundation feels that it can make the greatest overall impact by seeking to narrow racial and gender wealth gaps by supporting equitable, inclusive, and sustainable economic development efforts that create pathways to build, retain and transfer wealth to the next generation. While applications addressing the racial and gender wealth gap are given priority, projects that utilize existing community assets to strengthen local economies and foster the economic well-being of all disenfranchised and lower-resourced families and communities will also be considered.

The Foundation is particularly interested in supporting organizations and projects that engage stakeholders in the development and implementation of strategies that narrow North Carolina’s racial and gender wealth gaps by:

  • Increasing, protecting, and stabilizing incomes and assets for women and communities  of color;
  • Increasing the value of community assets and their control by local communities to enable the economic independence of women and communities of color; and
  • Advancing institutional policies and practices that enable wealth creation and diminish asset poverty among women and communities of color.

The Foundation invests in organizations, projects, and coalitions that provide measurable evidence of progress towards systemic change in the following areas:

Local and Regional Economies

The Foundation seeks to strengthen equitable and inclusive local and regional economic efforts designed to increase access to economic markets, build community wealth, and foster collaboration. ZSR has a particular interest in the green economy, sustainable agriculture, community-based enterprises and initiatives that foster place-based, comprehensive strategies that enable income generation, savings, and wealth opportunities.

Systems and Policy Reform

The Foundation aims to support a sustained base of organizations and networks that address racial and gender wealth disparities. ZSR invests in organizations and projects that work to promote systems and/or policy reforms that reduce asset poverty and increase wealth in the lives of women and communities of color.  The most successful efforts will include:

  • A base of local grassroots and/or state policy organizations that build public will and engage diverse stakeholders;
  • Leadership development that builds alliances and networks; or
  • Targeted policy and systems changes that can impact assets and wealth

Resource Development & Documentation

The Foundation seeks to raise awareness of racial and gender wealth gaps in North Carolina by soliciting research and evaluation efforts that build knowledge and financial resources that inform grantee efforts, the field, and the state. 

With rare exception, the Foundation does not make grants for the following:

  • Capital projects
  • Land purchases
  • Youth development
  • Conferences, seminars, or symposiums
  • Fundraising events
  • Building projects or renovations
  • Equipment, furniture or computer purchases
  • Historic preservation
  • After-school programs
  • Crisis intervention
  • Social/human direct services
  • Transitional housing
  • Local Habitat for Humanity affiliates

Review the complete list of uses, programs and activities to which the Foundation (with rare exception) does not make grants.