Taking on race – Aim is to connect people

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation will invest $1 million in efforts to improve race relations in North Carolina.

The foundation has created a $750,000 fund for its new “Race Will Not Divide Us” initiative.

The foundation will spend another $250,000 to evaluate projects, provide support and training, publish findings and convene people working on race issues.

The new initiative aims to strengthen race relations by stimulating innovative projects; supporting pioneering efforts; fostering successful model programs; and building a network of leaders.

“The foundation wants to fund specific projects that bring people together across lines of race to accomplish a specific purpose, such as building a playground, developing an after-school tutoring program or supporting a biracial men’s fellowship group – to do something more than just talk about race relations,” Tom Lambeth, the foundation’s executive director, said in a statement.

Shirley Frye of Greensboro, a foundation trustee and chair of its race relations committee, said racial tension has been complicated by the influx of Latino, Asian and other racial and ethnic groups.

“While no statement ‘crisis’ can be pointed to,” she said, “race continues to be the complicating factor in many critical policy areas, such as economic development, educational access, housing and environmental concerns.”

A statewide survey that the foundation conducted in 1993 found that 57 percent of white residents and 72 percent of blacks believed racial discrimination and prejudice were serious problems in the state.

The survey also found that people of different races came into little contact with one another – and that communication and contact among the races were decreasing.

May 8 is the deadline for groups to submit grant proposals for funding under the initiative. Organizations selected to receive grants will be announced June 15.

 

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