The Kate B. Reynolds
Charitable Trust is shaking things up in the world of
rural philanthropic giving by providing up to $100
million in place-based grants to 10 to 12
financially-disadvantaged counties in North Carolina over
the next 10 years.
This initiative, dubbed Healthy Places
NC, is unique in that the Trust is building
relationships and working collaboratively with each
community to determine and meet local needs, rather than
being prescriptive about how funds should be used. Local
leaders and residents use their knowledge about their
communities to develop and spearhead healthy programming
in their area. The Trust determines which projects will
be grant-funded based on community needs and engagement,
as well as the prospect of the program producing
long-term, sustainable change. The goal is to improve
local health outcomes for rural residents by increasing
their quality of life and improving the communities'
culture of health.
We want rural communities to have the same
opportunities for program support as in urban areas.
Jehan Benton-Clark, a senior program officer at the Kate
B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, believes that Healthy
Places NC is successful because it engages local
residents in new and different ways, tying in numerous
entities such as the chambers of commerce, economic
development offices, faith groups, and others to improve
“We saw a niche where not many funders were
filling a role in rural areas,” said
Benton-Clark. “We want rural communities to
have the same opportunities for program support as in
Benton-Clark oversees Healthy Places NC work in the
counties of Halifax, Rockingham, Edgecombe, and Nash, in
central North Carolina.
“As a representative for the Trust, I try to
see what resources the communities need and how the Trust
can play a helpful role,” said Benton-Clark.
“I see what nonprofits and resources are
available to help, facilitate conversations with
different groups, and try to understand paradigm
relationships within the community to better provide
In the communities that she has helped, various health
topics have been the focus. In Halifax County, the
state's first federally-funded clinic within a hospital
was launched with a goal of increasing the number of new
patients visiting primary care doctors and reducing
emergency room visits. In Rockingham County, the
Nurse-Family Partnership, an evidence-based community
health program, was formed. The program pairs low-income
pregnant women with nurses for up to two years, and
supports a new network of primary healthcare services for
low-income families. In Edgecombe and Nash, expanding
behavioral health services at Federally Qualified Health
Centers has been the focus.
People like Benton-Clark work to bring these programs
We don't tell communities what to do, but rather give
them the tools and access to resources to bring these
programs to life.
“We don't tell communities what to do, but
rather give them the tools and access to resources to
bring these programs to life,” said
Benton-Clark thinks other funders should consider doing
philanthropy with place-based grants. In rural areas
especially, long-standing relationships that occur within
communities often help facilitate the success of these
grants, bettering local health outcomes.