Proclaiming that "inclusivity is a team sport," the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust said Thursday it is evolving its grant-making policies to focus on measurable outcomes for the short and long terms.
The Winston-Salem nonprofit unveiled its strategy shift — timed with a revamping of its website — that focuses on childhood education and health outcomes.
"We recognize there are no quick fixes in terms of socioeconomic changes," said Dr. Laura Gerald, the trust's president since 2017.
"As much as we have depended on our past legacy of patriarchal, company-town leadership, we can't just leave finding the solutions to the powerful few and wait on their results.
"We are changing our approach to measure progress along the way, recognizing that while one group can only do so much alone, together inclusively we can accomplish so much more."
The nonprofit said the evolution of its policies aim "to ensure that children in Forsyth County enter kindergarten ready to learn and leave set for success in school and life."
In this instance, success in school and life means making funding and assistance available through age 24 when it comes education and job training for those individuals not actively participating in either sector.
Gerald said the timing of its funding cycles will go from semiannual to "rolling," which she said signifies the trust will be more timely in its responses to community needs.
"In some occasions, we are no longer able to support past projects, not because they are not worthy but because our priorities have shifted to focus on outcomes over issues," Gerald said.
"We will post funding opportunities as they become available."
The trust plans to provide $29 million in its next funding cycle, with $4.9 million going to Forsyth working poor quality-of-life issues each for 2018 and 2019.
"We want the safety net to work better through innovation and systematic changes that can be measured so we can help more people," Gerald said.
The rest of the funding will go toward statewide health-improvement initiatives.
For example, the trust is providing up to $10 million to North Carolina organizations assisting individuals with signing up in the federal health insurance marketplace. The 2019 open enrollment period started Thursday and ends Dec. 15.
The new initiative begins with three funding opportunities on the website, one in Forsyth toward what the trust calls safety net groups, those that providing food, clothing and shelter.
The local Great Expectations initiative has three main goals: improving birth outcomes so all children get off to a good start in life; increase access to quality childcare through universal pre-kindergarten, and improve traditional preschool and home-based childcare; and create a more inclusive economy that works for all residents.
The trust said its strategy was spurred in part by 10 key findings that it said will help drive future funding initiatives.
Some are not new, such as targeting how many Forsyth residents segregate themselves to the point that they "have few opportunities, and low motivation, to mix it up socially with people who represent different demographics (race, ZIP code, income, and generation)," the trust said.
The trust said the efforts toward education and job training for those ages 16 to 24 is in part aimed at giving them a chance to become positive contributors to their communities and society, and in part to steer them away from activities that could wind up with them entering the criminal justice system.
"Employers, both those here and those thinking of operations here, are constantly asking 'where can I get the workforce for today and tomorrow that I need?' " Gerald said.
"By specifically focusing on opportunities for disconnected youths with innovations, it helps us develop that workforce that makes us more attractive for investment so that all eyes don't automatically go to Charlotte and the Triangle for answers."
Gerald said it's no secret among local and statewide foundations, such as The Winston-Salem Foundation and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, that "residents of low-income neighborhoods are growing weary of well-meaning folk who want to 'do for' rather than 'do with' " efforts to help their socioeconomic situation.
"We know the value in charitable giving to those in low-poverty situations, but we don't want it to just make things in their lives more palatable, more bearable," Gerald said. "It doesn't tend to change their dynamic for the better in a sustainable way.
"We're all facing the same concerns and challenges, so we're trying to take our resources and sharing our message so to help get us all to the next stage of developing thriving communities."