How We Work
We’re on a racial equity journey, confronting our own history to change the system.
For many years, the Trust primarily supported white-led institutions that provided well-meaning charity care. These grantees achieved important outcomes, such as food and shelter. However, our support perpetuated racist systems and were not yet focused on the root causes of poverty and poor health. As historians note, after Reconstruction, Black residents were intentionally disenfranchised by white people in power. The political marginalization of Black residents and United States Supreme Court decisions that endorsed segregation and unequal treatment led to racial inequities across nearly every system in North Carolina. And this pattern has continued.
Our Equity Framework explains our commitment to equity today.
Our Equity Framework illustrates why and how we now center equity in all our work at the Trust. It offers a common understanding of what we mean when we talk about equity, how we got here, and where we’re going.
We now work to change racist policies and practices, to fulfill our founder’s vision on today’s terms.
Today, we’re examining the root causes of the issues Mrs. Reynolds cared about, as racist policies and practices persist, roadblocking the very outcomes Mrs. Reynolds requested we address.
The disparities we continue to see by race and place are a result of systems being intentionally designed to advance opportunities for some groups and deny opportunities to others.
Our focus on racial equity was not derived from popular trends.
Our framework was developed by fulfilling the vision of Mrs. Reynolds with an understanding of community input, data, history, and systems in the state.
We support those who were systematically excluded to remake those systems.
The people who were systematically excluded from building our current systems should drive the movement to remake those systems.
To support lasting equitable outcomes, we are working to change the historic inequitable systems that continue to marginalize Black, Latinx, and Native American people today. We invest in the power of communities of color and under-resourced areas of our state to advance the change they want to see and close health, educational, and economic disparities.
We confirmed our equity commitment at our 75th anniversary.
To change the system, we need to start with ourselves. In 2023, we used our 75th anniversary to reckon with our history.
Trust President, Dr. Laura Gerald, acknowledged the role of slavery and tobacco in generating the Trust’s wealth and announced how the Trust (working with its sole trustee/financial partner Wells Fargo) has divested from tobacco. She shared our ongoing commitment to a socially responsible investment strategy to support community-led businesses and economic opportunities in North Carolina.