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New Hanover Endowment Opens Applications Cycle

By Staff Reports, posted Sep 1, 2023
Heading into its second grant cycle, the New Hanover Community Endowment released new details about this year’s funding goals.

The fund was formed from $1.25 billion in proceeds from selling the once-public New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health. The endowment aims to partner with organizations in six strategic areas this year, said Lakesha McDay, the endowment’s executive vice president of programs and operations, during a public meeting in August.

The meeting was attended by nonprofit and local government representatives who filled a room at The Harrelson Center in downtown Wilmington.

The endowment distributed more than $9 million last year to 110 community organizations across the county’s nonprofit sector and public agencies. Since then, the endowment has hired new staff and released a strategic plan that’s provided more detail about its goals and future work in New Hanover County.

The strategic planning process gave the endowment time to listen to the needs of the community, which will drive its future investments, said William Buster, the endowment’s CEO and president.

“We view this as wanting to take big swings all along, but there’s going to be some foul balls along the way,” Buster said. “We recognize that, so we'll be taking our time, asking questions, working with our partners all the while moving forward.”

The fund’s strategic plan, which was released earlier this year, outlined four pillar focus areas, including health and well-being, education, community safety and community development.

In the upcoming cycle, the endowment is looking to partner with organizations that work in six specific areas, McDay said.

That includes groups that train positions within the health care sector, groups that work to develop “robust early childhood learning strategies,” including new child care centers or enhanced wrap-around services and organizations that support workforce and supportive housing strategies. 

Other areas of focus include support of programs aimed at addressing youth crime and violence prevention, groups that support K-12 education through workforce development and outcome-improving initiatives and projects that address access to quality health care. 

The endowment will also offer responsive grant applications to organizations that align with its strategic plan. Funding for these grants cannot exceed $250,000 or 50% of an organization’s operating budget for the last fiscal year.

Grant applications will open Sept. 1 and close Sept. 22. 

Applicants are required to have physical office space in New Hanover County and demonstrate alignment with at least one of the endowment’s strategic pillars.

In addition to the public meeting, the endowment plans to host office hours, information sessions and webinars throughout August and September, McDay said. Dates will be posted on the endowment’s website and social media pages.

“One thing we know is that we can’t fund every request,” McDay said, “but I think we’ve failed if organizations are not funded because they didn't know how to apply.”
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