Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation announces a new strategy

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation announces a new strategy
August 10
04:00 2017

For more than 80 years the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) has been a catalyst for positive change across the state. For the past few decades the foundation has focused its charitable efforts in five focus areas: community economic development, democracy, public education, environment and, social justice and equity. While the focus areas will remain a postmark, ZSR will now look to make an impact outside those focus areas. 

Shortly after being named executive director of foundation last spring, Maurice “Mo” Greene announced a yearlong series of listening sessions with residents across the state. The “Mo Wants to Know” listening tour was then used to help create a strategic plan. Before joining ZSR, Greene served as the superintendent of Guilford County Schools. He said although he couldn’t get to every county in the state during the listening tour, his staff created criteria to ensure every community was represented.

“We identified a number of communities across the state and spent at least a couple of days in those communities really just listening,” Greene said. 

After looking at the data they compiled and combining that information with what they heard from the people they serve, Greene and the Board of Trustees announced a new “emerging direction” plan to improve the quality of life of all North Carolinians. During an interview with The Chronicle, Greene said while they will continue to help charitable organizations across the state, the foundation will now look to do more collaborative community based work. He also discussed a new “visionary, exploratory ideas” strategy that will allow the foundation to invest in unconventional ideas that have transformative potential.

“This is all built off what we heard. And what we heard was that for the foreseeable future, we need to be flexible in our grant making and way of connecting with the state, and be adaptable to the changing environments,” Greene said.

In addition to the main strategies, Greene said the Board Of Trustees will look to find ways to augment the foundation’s relationship with Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. Greene said despite the changes, ZSR will continue to be a learning organization.

‘“The Mo Wants to Know’ tour officially ended when we announced our emerging direction but it really never ends. We need to be attune to whatever is happening in the state,” he said. “We have to be ready to effect change.

“We are a state that is changing so we need to be responsive to that.”

ZSR will spend the next 12 to 18 months transitioning into the new strategic plan. The upcoming fall grant cycle will be the last cycle based on the current grant cycle. According to a post on the ZSR website, the new strategies will be unveiled at different times throughout 2018. Greene said the next step will be to take what they’ve learned and turn it into action.

“We have to find a way to combine our resources with communities to move people forward.”

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is a statewide, private, family foundation that has been a catalyst for positive change in North Carolina for more than 80 years. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, the Foundation has invested more than $553 million into North Carolina.

For more information on the foundation or the new emerging direction visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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