Meet the Leaders Advancing Racial Equity in North Carolina


At the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, we are working with communities to change inequitable systems, policies, and practices — to right the wrongs of racism that have existed in North Carolina for far too long.

We cannot ignore the continued racism and violence perpetuated against Black and Latinx people. It did not end with the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, who was killed a year ago this week. To improve people’s health and quality of life, we need to take action.

Change is needed across many systems in our state to dismantle racist practices and policies, so people of color have the opportunity to lead full, healthy lives. At the Trust, we support systems change efforts that further racial equity in health, education, and economic opportunity, applying the vision of our founder to the realities of today.

There is no credible route to systems change and better outcomes that does not go through equity, particularly racial equity.

Pursuing equity is what guides our journey and our team, and it informs our funding priorities. We start by listening. We invest in efforts led by people of color and build the power of people who have been marginalized, because those closest to the impact of inequity must be at the center, and their leadership is more important than ever.

We also support the efforts of community groups that are white-led that do the work internally and externally to make equity a priority.

We are honored to share some of this critical work by our grantees below.

Immigrant-led and Black-led organizations are addressing inequities across the state.


At the Trust we focus our grantmaking on strategic goals to change the systems that have historically held residents with low incomes and people of color back. We also recognize that COVID-19 created an unprecedented crisis for groups that have been marginalized, so we invested nearly $800,000 in nine immigrant-led groups and collaboratives over the past year to respond to COVID-19 in their communities. We know those most impacted must be involved in creating solutions to health challenges facing their communities.

We also support the long-term work of local organizations ensuring people of color have a voice at the table and the power to drive the change they want to see in their communities. Here’s how some organizations are working for better health in McDowell and Beaufort counties:

Centro Unido Latino Americano

Situated in Marion, Centro Unido is a Latinx-led nonprofit working in rural western North Carolina. Centro Unido, led by Francesca Hagarty, works to reduce health disparities for the uninsured and underinsured by facilitating access to health care — be it primary, dental, vision, specialty care, or transportation. The Trust supports general operating funds to build the capacity for CU to engage the local Latinx community.

West Marion Community Forum

This vital Black-led community organization, led by Paula Swepson, works to overcome racial barriers by building bridges across the community and health systems. The Trust currently supports West Marion Community Forum’s efforts to change the underlying community conditions that drive rising obesity rates and poor health outcomes.

Alpha Life Enrichment Center

Although Beaufort County in rural eastern North Carolina has strong agricultural roots and a large farming community, many areas of the county are considered food deserts. Residents, primarily people of color, must drive for many miles to access fresh and nutritious food. The Trust supports Alpha Life Enrichment Center, a Black-led organization started by Bill Booth, and the Healthy Eating Active Living Collaborative working to make sure every resident has access to healthy food across the county.

We are building the leadership and capacity of organizations on the ground.


Working to address racism in systems takes time and funds — just to keep the organization running — and it requires technical assistance and capacity building from organizations like these, based in Forsyth County:

B.Well Initiative

Led by Career Maven Consulting, the B. Well Initiative builds community and provides leadership support for Black female nonprofit leaders in Forsyth County. The Trust is excited to support this roundtable for Black leaders to come together to center their wellbeing while working to create community change.

HandsOn NC

HandsOn Northwest North Carolina, led by Amy Lytle, inspires community change by providing professional, culturally competent training and leadership development programs that strengthen and sustain nonprofits and individuals. The Trust provides programmatic funds to build capacity for Black, Indigenous, and other leaders of color with strong networks in neighborhoods with low incomes in
Forsyth County.

Nonprofits are expanding equitable access and addressing barriers through health and education systems.


In North Carolina, historic health and education policies and practices mean people of color are the most likely to be uninsured and have the lowest access to quality health and education programs. These grantees are working to change the system:

North Carolina Justice Center

Working with Southerners for Medicaid Expansion, the NC Justice Center is communicating with multiple audiences across the state about the need to close the coverage gap in North Carolina. The Trust is supporting the Justice Center efforts to share stories about people impacted by the state’s failure to expand Medicaid, and build power among residents who need access to affordable health care. Data shows that the NC uninsured rate remains higher than the national average, a gap that has only widened since the state opted not to expand Medicaid.

The Pre-K Priority

A fair and inclusive educational system ensures that every child, particularly children of color, has access to a quality education. That’s why the Trust is supporting The Pre-K Priority, a coalition of community organizations and individuals, committed to improving the number of affordable, high-quality early childhood programs available in Forsyth County. Key grantees include Action4Equity and Latino Community Services – organizations inviting parent voices and communities of color to the coalition to ensure Forsyth County builds a pre-K system that works for families who have been denied access for far too long.