Grant Details

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (North Carolina)

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    Funder Type

    Private Foundation

    IT Classification

    C - Funds little to no technology


    Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, Inc.


    The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation invests in statewide, regional and community-based organizations that are dedicated to building an inclusive, sustainable and vibrant state. The groups that ZSR supports both work to build healthy, robust communities at the local and regional level and engage in education, civic dialogue and advocacy around issues of importance to communities and to North Carolina. Learn more about the impact of the Foundation and our grantees. 

    The Foundation's grant making policies reflect the belief that organizational performance is greatly enhanced when people with different backgrounds and perspectives are engaged in an organization's activities and decision-making process. Thus, the Foundation actively seeks to promote access, equity and inclusiveness, and to discourage discrimination based on race, creed, ethnicity, gender, age, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and other factors that deny the essential humanity of all people. This principle is a lens through which all of the work of the Foundation is viewed.

    The Foundation's vision is:

    • To promote social, economic and environmental justice.
    • To strengthen democracy, through an educated and informed populace.
    • To encourage innovation and excellence in a dynamic nonprofit sector.
    • To support progressive public policy and social change.
    • To foster cooperation and respect among all racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups.
    • To build strong, vibrant, economically sound, and peaceful communities.

    The Foundation focuses its grant making on four priority areas:

    • Advancing Public Education: Access to high quality early childhood education and k-12 public education is a foundation block of democracy and is essential for the future economic sustainability, prosperity and ongoing vitality of our state and its communities. The Foundation further believes that children are best prepared to live, work and lead in our increasingly diverse state if schools are racially, ethnically and economically diverse and if schools value the individual experiences and contributions of each student. Consequently, the Foundation supports efforts that: build the public will to support and strengthen North Carolina's public systems of education, including early childhood education through high school*; build the capacity of these systems for continuous improvement; and advance educational equity.
    • Fostering a Healthy and Sustainable Environment: The Foundation believes healthy natural systems are deeply connected to human health, economic security, and community resilience. In addition, because low-income communities and communities of color shoulder a disproportionate share of environmental hazards, the Foundation places a special emphasis on promoting solutions that address ongoing injustice. Consequently, the Foundation supports regional and statewide efforts that: prevent and mitigate the impacts of climate change; ensure healthy air and water quality and water quantity; promote access to the green economy; address the impact of environmental hazards on human health; and protect significant ecosystems while meeting the growth demands of the state in environmentally sound ways. Through this grantmaking strategy, the Foundation funds work that is focused on state-level systemic change. For a healthy environment across the state, the Foundation recognizes that some of its environmental investments may need to focus regionally within the state.
    • Promoting Social and Economic Justice: Structural oppression is pervasive across all kinds of systems, sometimes in ways that are explicit and overt, but more often in ways that are implicit and less conscious. The Foundation also recognizes that North Carolinians are impacted by multiple intersecting systems simultaneously, not just one system or issue at a time. Consequently, the Foundation anticipates supporting efforts that aim to remove structural barriers to North Carolinians being able to create a better life for themselves and their families. While this work can take many forms, the Foundation is especially interested in work that seeks to: address the economic impacts and racial disparities of the criminal justice system; embrace and expand the contributions of and opportunities for immigrants; advance reproductive justice*; and ensure that all North Carolinians have the chance to achieve economic self-sufficiency. The Foundation will consider applications for other social and economic justice work, as well, but special emphasis will be placed on the above-mentioned areas and their intersections. 
    • Strengthening Democracy: The Foundation aims to strengthen democracy by ensuring that public institutions and processes are effective, transparent, accountable, accessible and inclusive. The Foundation is especially interested in removing barriers that prevent civic participation among populations who have been historically marginalized, subjected to discrimination, or excluded from full participation in society. Furthermore, the Foundation recognizes that our government institutions only work well if people have enough credible information on which to base decisions, know how to make their voices heard, and if there are diverse leaders willing to serve the public good. Consequently, the Foundation supports efforts that: inform the populace about government policies, practices and issues; improve the public's ability to analyze media; protect and promote just and fair elections; strengthen voters' rights and increase participation in government; and reduce barriers that limit historically marginalized citizens from serving in office or other public decision-making bodies. 

    The foundation will give particular emphasis to work targeted at improving opportunities and outcomes for populations who have been historically marginalized, subjected to systemic discrimination, or excluded from full participation in society, including, but not limited to:

    • Immigrants 
    • LGBTQ Persons
    • Low Income Individuals 
    • People of Color
    • Women 
    • Young People 

    History of Funding

    Projects and communities impacted by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation can be seen at

    Additional Information

    Current grant programs are:

    Community Progress Fund: The Community Progress Fund is designed to provide an infusion of short-term funding at the right moment and is intended to build on existing momentum to help move an issue, an idea or an organization forward.

    The Progress Fund allows communities to test ideas, expand promising efforts, or achieve greater impact. ZSR hopes that engaging with community members through the Progress Fund grant cycle will allow the Foundation to support communities and to better understand how different communities experience change, opportunity, and challenges in unique ways. Thus, the parameters for this approach are intentionally broad. In addition, ZSR desires to be accessible to areas of the state that have relatively higher needs and fewer resources. Consequently, preference will be given to those areas of the state.

    Sabbatical Program: Since 1990, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has honored North Carolina's nonprofit leaders for their dedicated service and commitment to the sector by awarding sabbaticals. Up to five sabbaticals, which had previously been offered annually until 2016, are now offered every other year. Sabbatical recipients use this time to engage in non-professional development activities of their own choosing to aid in personal renewal and growth. While on hiatus, award recipients travel, study, read, reflect, rest, and/or explore interests unrelated to their field of work. It is the Foundation's hope that sabbatical recipients will return recommitted to the challenges and rewards of public service and thus prolong their tenure in the nonprofit sector. *ZSR is not accepting applications for the Sabbatical Program at this time.*

    ZSR Fellowship: The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation offers one two-year, paid fellowship (beginning July 1) to an individual who demonstrates an interest in philanthropy, public policy, community service and/or the nonprofit sector. This position is salaried and includes benefits. *Note: The ZSR Fellowship is distinctly different from the Exploratory, Visionary Ideas Strategy All For NC Fellowship.

    The fellow acquires increasing responsibility over the course of two years in evaluating grant proposals, visiting with grant applicants, assisting with grantmaking administration, working on projects of importance to the Foundation, and providing additional support to Foundation staff as needed. Through the grant process and related programs, the fellow gains experience with nonprofit organizations, public policy, Foundation trustees and other leaders across North Carolina. Each fellow has the opportunity to assist in furthering projects related to the current priority areas of the Foundation. The fellowship is structured to enable the fellow to further explore areas that are of interest to his or her professional development and that align with the Foundation's goals, mission and vision. The fellow is also responsible for coordinating the Foundation's internship programs.

    All For NC Fellowship: The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is seeking to invest directly in young innovators, change makers, visionaries, entrepreneurs and risk takers between the ages of 21 and 35 with bold ideas for how to make a difference in North Carolina and its communities. The newly established All For NC Fellowship is a 12-month program designed to provide funding, coaching and mentoring to young people who have a vision and plan that could contribute to a better life for North Carolina's people and communities.

    Fellows will receive:

    • An individual stipend of $75,000 (pre-tax) for personal and project expenses incurred during the fellowship;
    • Professional growth opportunities such as one-on-one coaching; and
    • Shared educational experiences in-person with peers, coaches and community leaders.


    Gloria Puckett

    Gloria Puckett
    102 W Third St, Suite 1110
    Winston-Salem, NC 27101
    (336) 725-7541
    (336) 725-6069

  • Eligibility Details

    The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is restricted to making grants to charitable, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organizations, colleges/universities, religious entities and government units for programs and projects that serve the people of North Carolina. Out-of-state charitable organizations are eligible to apply for funds to support projects operating in North Carolina.

    Sabbatical Program: Individuals in paid, full-time executive level positions, who have served their North Carolina nonprofit organizations for at least three years (two of which in an executive level position), are eligible to apply for a sabbatical. Preference is given to individuals with at least five years of experience with their organization. This program is not intended for public school, college, university or government employees, hospital administrators or full-time clergy. *

    ZSR Fellowship: Eligible candidates must be natives or residents of North Carolina and/or graduates of an accredited North Carolina college or university.

    The All For NC Fellowship is open to North Carolina residents between the ages of 21 and 35 as of January 25, 2019. In addition, applicants must:

    • Propose ideas that have an anticipated public benefit for NC
    • Be available for participation in a semi-finalist interview weekend* on March 15-17, 2019; • Be able to commit significant time over 12 months to their Fellowship project
    • Be able to participate in three cohort convenings/ seminars* held in different sites across the state over the 12 months of the program.

    Deadline Details

    State-Level Systemic Change grants will be made twice per year, once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Organizations may apply for any amount of funding during the Fall and Spring grant cycles. For the Fall grant cycle, there is a July 25 application deadline. The Spring grant cycle is an invitation-only cycle.

    • Community Progress Fund: Letters of Intent are to be submitted by December 7, 2020.
    • ZSR Fellowship: Applications for the 2021-2023 ZSR Fellowship are due on January 4, 2021.

    Similar timelines are anticipated annually.

    Award Details

    Community Progress Fund: Grant amounts range from $20,000-$30,000 per year for one or two years. 

    Sabbatical Program: Award are $40,000. Up to five sabbatical recipients are selected annually.

    Related Webcasts Use the links below to view the recorded playback of these webcasts

    • Funding Classroom Technology to Empower Students and Teachers - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Maximizing Technology-friendly Workforce Development Grants - Sponsored by Panasonic - Playback Available
    • Funding Data-driven Workforce Development Projects - Sponsored by NetApp - Playback Available


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