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Foundation Funds Grassroots Efforts to Curb NC Racial Disparities


Monday, January 16, 2023   

Following the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - honored today for his civil rights work - one organization in North Carolina is finding ways to help reverse racial disparities in the state.

The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust wants to change the systems that cause inequalities, and break the cycle that perpetuates poverty.

Trust President Laura Gerald said while philanthropic groups like hers traditionally try to solve racial disparities by awarding money to nonprofits, she's now taking what she calls a "systems approach" - directing resources to groups working on the root causes of those disparities in North Carolina at the local level.

"Many of whom are led by people of color or immigrant groups, to help increase the power and agency for communities experiencing poverty," said Gerald. "We invest in Legal Aid, for example, of North Carolina. We invest in the North Carolina Justice Center. We invest in the North Carolina Rural Center."

Gerald said agencies like these can have an immediate effect in the community and assist people who might otherwise fall into the poverty cycle.

The Trust awards $20 million a year to nonprofits and advocacy groups that are devoted to change at the ground level.

Gerald said racial disparities run the gamut in North Carolina, but are especially prominent in health care. She said, for instance, a Black baby born in the state is twice as likely to die as a white baby, and a Black woman is three times as likely to die in childbirth.

Gerald said she believes grassroots organizations are in the best position to help people who might otherwise be labeled 'broken.'

"But what we have determined - both here in North Carolina and frankly, across the nation," said Gerald, "is that people are often experiencing the problems that they're facing not because they're broken, but because the systems in which they're operating are broken."

She said the Trust also advocates expanding Medicaid to more North Carolina residents and investing in early childhood education to help break the cycle of poverty where it starts.

Disclosure: Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust contributes to our fund for reporting on Early Childhood Education, Health Issues, Livable Wages/Working Families, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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