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Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Provides Update on Emerging Direction

Wednesday, June 14, 2017  
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Yearlong process results in new strategies to drive the Foundation’s grantmaking and broader work  

Winston-Salem, NC (June 14, 2017) – The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) has provided an update to its strategic assessment and planning process and announced a new emerging direction to guide its work.


The Foundation’s emerging direction comes out of a yearlong strategic assessment and planning process that ZSR embarked on in May 2016 to learn more about the changing needs of the state as well as to examine and evaluate its current approach to grantmaking and broader work. ZSR officially set out on this strategic assessment and planning process shortly after its then new Executive Director Maurice “Mo” Green came to the Foundation.


As part of this assessment, the Foundation launched a statewide listening and learning tour called Mo Wants To Know, to hear directly from North Carolinians not only about the trends and challenges they were facing in their communities, but also about the opportunities that lie ahead.


What the Foundation heard from North Carolinians over the course of the year has helped inform, and will continue to shape, its path forward.


Some of the primary feedback it received included the need for the Foundation to: be adaptive and flexible; continue to invest at both the state and local levels; remain a leader in promoting racial equity; and help foster a greater sense of connection and belonging in communities.


Thus, the Foundation’s emerging direction is to improve the quality of life for all North Carolinians, now and for generations to come, via three strategies:


·         A state-level strategy that will continue to support structural and systemic changes at the state level.

·         A community-based strategy that will primarily support collaborative problem-solving efforts in local communities.

·         An exploratory, visionary ideas strategy that will allow the Foundation to invest in unconventional, singular or higher-risk ideas that have transformative potential, but may require different or more flexible philanthropic approaches.


Trustees also have committed to seek ways to augment ZSR’s participation in the life of its hometown of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.


ZSR will no longer rely on its current focus area descriptions to drive all of its work, though as the new strategies are further developed, there may be areas of emphasis that guide part of the work.


However, the Foundation will remain steadfast in its mission and core values, which will continue to guide its work going forward. It also will continue to invest at both the state and local levels, employ a mix of proactive and responsive grantmaking approaches, focus on systemic change, serve as a convener and connector and promote racial equity. It also remains committed to being a learning organization.


“The Foundation’s emerging direction has developed from our long and rich history of investments in North Carolina and our commitment to responding to the state’s changes, our yearlong strategic assessment and planning process, and what we heard from North Carolinians throughout this journey,” said Maurice “Mo” Green, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “Trustees believe that our emerging direction is the best way for us to respond to the changing needs of the state, especially given the need to be more flexible and adaptive. This emerging direction also will allow the Foundation to continue some of the great work that already has been accomplished across the state, while experimenting with new ideas. As these strategies are further designed and developed, the Foundation plans to keep folks informed.”


The Foundation’s emerging direction will continue to evolve over the coming 12 to 18 months as ZSR further designs and develops each of its components. The development and implementation of the three strategies will be on individual timelines, so each strategy is likely to roll out at a different point over the course of 2018. The design and implementation of each strategy will be guided by the Foundation’s core values, with a continued and intentional focus on racial equity.


Given that ZSR’s emerging direction will take 12 to 18 months to be fully developed and implemented, the Foundation’s upcoming fall 2017 grant cycle will mark the beginning of the Foundation’s transition and will be the last grant cycle based on its current focus area descriptions. Therefore, ZSR Trustees have made the decision that ZSR’s fall 2017 grant cycle will be closed and by invitation-only. The Foundation will not have a traditional spring 2018 grant cycle in order to focus on the design and implementation of ZSR’s emerging direction.


For more information about the Foundation’s emerging direction and/or to learn more about what ZSR heard from North Carolinians, and through other inputs, during its yearlong strategic assessment and planning process, visit


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