Today, Mrs. Reynolds’ gifts have enabled us to support thriving communities—partnering together for equitable health care, education, and economic opportunities for North Carolina residents. We center our work around racial equity—to realize the goals Mrs. Reynolds set forth when the Trust was founded, on today’s terms.
As we approach the Trust’s 75th anniversary this year, we’re reflecting on the Trust’s early work, to better understand how to address the root causes of the issues our founder cared about.
To change the system, we need to start with ourselves.
This is the first of a series of stories designed to trace our trajectory from then to now, examining what we can learn by looking back to help us move forward today.
Over the coming months, we look forward to digging in with you to explore our founding history, the complexity of our legacy, and our vision for a more just society that stands up against racism and changes the system to ensure equitable health, education, and economic outcomes for all residents.
In order to move forward in our efforts to achieve racial equity and change systems so people with low incomes and people of color in North Carolina receive the access and support they need to succeed, we must take a transparent look at our past.
Focusing on charity work
On June 11, 1947, the Kate B. Reynolds Trust made its first grant of $16,000 for visiting home nurses to the Community Nursing Service, with a goal of improving maternal and infant care. The organization provided in-home care for “poor and needy” white and Black residents of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Through this first charitable grant, five nurses made as many as 450 visits per month in those early years.
The Trust would go on to support Community Nursing Service for nearly 10 years—until the successful project merged with the Forsyth County Health Department. The original trustees never envisioned funding this work indefinitely, however, to meet the goals Mrs. Reynolds set forth, it has become one of the continued efforts of the Trust, even today.
Laying the groundwork
These first grants were a direct reflection of Mrs. Reynolds’ desire to improve the overall quality of life for those in need, across the state and locally in Forsyth County. They also set a clear direction for the Trust that continues now, as we find ways to realize her vision in 2022.
“I would conjecture that Mrs. Reynolds was very aware of who was excluded from getting what they needed in her charity work. From that first grant to support nurse home visiting, I believe she was aware that Black people were not getting what they needed. And I think that informs us today in the work we are doing for racial equity.”
- Dr. Laura Gerald, president, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust 2016-present
Today, the issues Mrs. Reynolds cared about remain urgent and interconnected. To continue to improve the lives of residents with low incomes, as she instructed us to do 75 years ago, we have to look at the fact that those residents in 1947—and still today—were marginalized by race and place. With racial equity driving our efforts, we now use our capital and influence to change the systems designed to hold back people of color, thereby creating equitable health care, education, and economic opportunities.