Early on, the North Carolina Community Foundation determined that the Foundation’s COVID-19 response would focus on long-term, unmet needs. The Foundation further defined a focus on nonprofit organizations in marginalized communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and have received less financial assistance.
Following that strategy, the NC Healing Communities Fund was formed, and NCCF raised more than $5 million. Now, ten months since the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic began in North Carolina, NCCF announces the opening of the first round of funding. Interested nonprofits may review the full request for proposals for more information at nccommunityfoundation.org
NCCF made five lead grants to demonstrate the ideals of the fund and the nonprofit organizations it seeks to support.
Nonprofits receiving $40,000 lead grants from the Fund were:
- Vecinos, Inc. Farmworker Health Program, Cullowhee, NC
- Diversity Nurtures Achievement, Warsaw, NC
- Partners in Ministry, Laurinburg, NC
- Bertie County Hive House, Lewiston, NC
- Surry Medical Ministries, Mt. Airy, NC
The Foundation is honored to support these community nonprofits, according to Leslie Ann Jackson, NCCF vice president of community investment and engagement. “The organizations receiving lead grants from the NC Healing Communities Fund stand as pillars of community health and well-being in the face of the adversity of COVID-19 and prior to it,” she said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity to provide support for leaders to sustain their critical service to our state’s most vulnerable communities, through and beyond this crisis.”
Grants from the Fund are intentionally structured for general operating support to directly help these organizations with core needs that are otherwise unmet. This type of funding is less than common for nonprofits today, according to Dr. Melba McCallum, executive director of Partners in Ministry. “Much funding available doesn’t help with our administrative and staff costs,” she said. “NCCF has helped us sustain our structure so that we can ensure our ministry continues.”
Nonprofits across the state are telling similar stories as they weather this time of decreasing revenue and increasing demands. These stories helped sharpen the NC Healing Communities Fund’s focus on communities of lower wealth, communities of color, mostly rural communities and where English may not be the primary language. These needs are present across the state but amplified in marginalized communities where funding often is relatively scarce.
“This funding program has given me light at the end of the tunnel," said Earlean Rivers, executive director of Diversity Nurtures Achievement. "I feel like I'm not completely in the dark anymore.”
For many nonprofit organizations, including our lead grantees, community needs are requiring expansions amidst deep declines in revenues. Nonprofits are working daily to meet increased need with decreasing support.
This is exactly the case for Vecinos Farmworker Health Program, which is undergoing strategic planning to shift support from the farmworker community to the entire region’s Spanish-speaking communities, according to Marianne Martínez, Vecinos executive director. “This funding will help us through our planning process and the critical implementation that will follow,” she said. “This is an important time because we’re seeing this crisis in a very real way while also looking forward to make sure that the community has the resources necessary to thrive in the future.”
Vecinos also will receive capacity-building support from Rural Forward NC, a program of the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation. NCCF has engaged Rural Forward NC as a partner for the NC Healing Communities Fund to offer capacity-building services to select grantees in addition to funding.
These community leaders and nonprofit organizations are representative of exactly what the Fund will support, according to Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, NCCF CEO and president. “We’re incredibly grateful to play a role in supporting these lifesaving groups that are stretched so thin during these times,” she said. “Our community needs these organizations, now more than ever, and we’re proud to stand with nonprofits.”
NCCF is especially grateful to the corporations and foundations that have helped to launch the Fund through generous contributions, including the State Employees' Credit Union Foundation, Duke Endowment, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, First Citizens Bank, Anonymous Trust, Jonas Foundation, Barnhill Family Foundation, Novartis Foundation and Fidelity Bank.
Philanthropy has a critical role to play, especially now. Nonprofits need our support today, according to Dr. McCallum, “We cannot do this work without these funds,” she said. “We have a heart to serve, but if we don't have the resources to do it, we can't do it.”
About the North Carolina Community Foundation
The NCCF is the single statewide community foundation serving North Carolina and has administered more than $184 million in grants since its inception in 1988. With more than $290 million in assets, NCCF sustains more than 1,200 endowments established to provide long-term support of a broad range of community needs, nonprofit organizations, institutions and scholarships. The NCCF partners with a network of affiliate foundations to provide local resource allocation and community assistance across the state. An important component of NCCF’s mission is to ensure that rural philanthropy has a voice at local, regional and national levels. For more information, visit nccommunityfoundation.org