Nonprofit focuses on minority economic development

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. – In the mid-1980s, fielding requests for information on businesses owned by minorities or women, the Minority Business Development Agency in the N.C. Department of Commerce lacked the data to respond.

To help fill that data gap, three agency employees formed the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development. Housed in the former North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company building in Durham in the business district known in the late 1800s and 1900s as “The Black Wall Street of America,” the agency focuses on business development, research and policy, and education and training.

Operating with an annual budget of $2 million and a staff of 12 people, the Institute in the fiscal year ended June 30, 2013, served over 4,000 businesses that created 480 jobs. It provided education and training for 5,100 people.

It helped firms secure $6.4 million in loans from major bankers and nontraditional investors. And it helped firms secure $81 million in contracts.

The biggest challenge for businesses owned by minorities and women is access to affordable capital, and access to market opportunities and an available skilled labor force, says Andrea Harris, president and co-founder of the Institute.

(On October 1, Harris will become a senior fellow at the Institute. Farad Ali, senior business consultant to the Institute who for 14 years was its senior vice president, will become its president and CEO.)

In 2007, the most recent year for which minority business data are available from the U.S. Census, North Carolina was home to nearly 132,000 minority-owned firms, up from over 61,500 in 1997, Harris says. Those firms employed nearly 129,500 paid employees and generated $16.1 billion in gross receipts.

The number of minority-owned firms likely is much higher now, Harris says.

The state also was home to 267,800 businesses owned by women that employed 208,300 individuals and generated $35.9 billion in sales.

When the Institute was formed in 1986, Harris says, firms owned by women “were not at the table or getting contracts.”

The Institute also has been working with an economist at the University of Georgia at Albany, updating data it published five years on the economic impact of the 10 historically black colleges and universities in North Carolina. That 2009 study, which was based on 2007 data, reported that those institutions’ combined economic impact was $1.6 billion.

Businesses owned by minorities and women were the focus of North Carolina’s second annual Statewide Minority Enterprise Development Week celebration on September 11 in Greensboro. Hosted by the Institute and the North Carolina Minority Women’s Business Enterprise Coordinators’ Network, the event is believed to be the only statewide event in the U.S. that celebrates minority-owned and women-owned firms.

The event is modeled on local celebrations throughout the U.S. that were launched by President Ronald Reagan in 1983 to raise awareness of goods and services provided by minority businesses, and to share their best practices, Harris says.

With three of five small businesses in the U.S. typically failing within their first five years, she says, the Institute “will continue to provide assistance, and work with major lenders and other business resources to understand and better respond to the challenges that are peculiar” to businesses owned by minorities and women.

Nonprofit news roundup, 09.26.14

Cook to head Girls Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont

Lane D. Cook, vice president of advancement at Alexander Youth Network in Charlotte, has been named CEO of Girl Scouts Carolinas Peaks to Piedmont in Colfax.

Cook, who begins her new job on November 10, succeeds Marcia Cole, who announced her retirement to the council’s board of directors in January.

Cook previously was vice president for legacy giving and advisor relations from 2010 to 2011 at Foundation for the Carolinas in Charlotte, and before that, vice president for development from 2007 to 2010.

She also served as deputy director for institutional advancement at Culture & Heritage Museums in Rock Hill, S.C.

Homeless Shelter settles federal lawsuit against state

Mary’s House, a Greensboro shelter for homeless women, settled a federal lawsuit this summer against the state of North Carolina for over $72,000, North Carolina Lawyer’s Weekly reports.

The lawsuit stems from a decision by the state Department of Health and Human Services to end funding for the shelter because it serves only women recovering from substance abuse, and because a state rule bars such shelters from receiving funds, Lawyer’s Weekly says.

Mary’s House and several residents filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming the rule violated federal legislation and the U.S. Constitution.

In addition to paying Mary’s House back funding, the state agreed in the settlement to seek a repeal of the rule.

Millsaps new executive director at policy research center

Linda Struyk Millsaps, former assistant secretary and chief operating officer for the state Department of Revenue, has been named executive director of the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research.

Millsaps also has served as economist and fiscal analyst in the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly, and as executive director of the Caldwell County Chamber of Commerce.

She succeeds Ran Coble, who retired after 33 years at the Center.

Weathers interim managing director at PlayMakers

Michelle Weathers, consulting producer at La Vie Productions in New York and managing director for Hot Summer Nights at Theatre Raleigh, has been named interim managing director at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill.

Bankers Association names communications director

Kathleen Donnelly, former account executive at MMI Public Relations in Cary, has been named director of communications and magazine editor at the North Carolina Bankers Association.

Employees of CPA firm volunteer for nonprofits

One-hundred-fifteen employees of Triad-based CPA firm Bernard Robinson & Company closed their offices in Greensboro, Raleigh and Winston-Salem on September 19 to provide a day of support for nine nonprofits in Triad and two in the Triangle.

Daily Show co-creator to speak at Planned Parenthood event

Lizz Winstead, co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show and co-founder of Air America Radio, will be the keynote speaker on October 28 at the 7th annual Health Heroes Recognition Dinner hosted by The Greensboro Friends of Planned Parenthood.

This year’s event, to be held at the Greensboro Four Seasons at 6 p.m., will honor Dr. Margaret Bertrand, whose work has integrated technology into breast-cancer detection, and Dr. Bobby Doolittle of the Cone Health Adolescent Medicine Clinic.

Green Building Council launched provision branch on coast

The North Carolina chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council has added a provisional branch in Wilmington to serve coastal North Carolina.

With existing branches in the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte, the Council works to change the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated so they will be more environmentally and socially responsible.

The Council’s new Cape Fear provisional branch is the result of talks for over a year between the Council’s state chapter and the Cape Fear Green Building AllianceNC.

Wake Habitat gets $70,000 from Lowe’s

Habitat for Humanity of Wake County received a $70,000 grant from Lowe’s to build a home in Raleigh’s Long Acres.

Lowe’s contributed nearly $1 million in funding to 11 Habitat affiliates across the U.S. to support community improvement projects ranging from critical repairs to new home construction.

Hospitality House of Charlotte gets matching challenge

For the second straight year, Michael A. Kahn Family Foundation and Charlotte Checkers Charitable Foundation pledged to match up to $15,000 in donations to support Hospitality House of Charlotte.

Salvation Army gets $15,000

The Capital City Civitan Club is giving $15,000 to The Salvation Army of Wake County, which will name a playroom for the Club at its Judy D. Zelnak Center of Hope at 1863 Capital Blvd. in Raleigh.

HanesBrands employees volunteer

Over 400 employee volunteers from HanesBrands in Winston-Salem plan today to visit eight community agencies, contributing thousands of volunteer hours on tasks such as landscaping, painting, administrative duties, packing food boxes and cooking meals.

Bank of America Foundation investing in Habitat

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation is investing $6 million to build houses for affiliates of Habitat for Humanity in in 32 U.S. cities, and in London, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Jakarta. Over 1,000 Bank of America employees will volunteer to help build the houses.

Apparo to benefit from golf event

Apparo, a Charlotte nonprofit that provides technology solutions for nonprofits, will benefit from a golf tournament to be held October 20 at Providence Country Club in Charlotte.

VF Corporation, Wrangler team raise $1 million for MS Society

VF Corporation and Wrangler “Denim Riders,” a Bike MS team participating in the 2014 Tour to Tanglewood, a 2-day cycling event that raises money for multiple sclerosis research, programs, services, and advocacy, has raised $1 million since 2001 in donations to the National MS Society.

Funds raised are used by the Society’s Greater Carolinas chapter to support people affected by MS and fund research.

The team will be recognized at the National MS Society’s 2014 National Leadership Conference on November 6-8 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Executive Concierge Group to sponsor USO event

Executive Concierge Group in Raleigh is a sponsor of the 10th Annual Salute to Freedom Gala that will be hosted on October 4 by the United Service Organizations of North Carolina.

Center for International Understanding names three to board

The Center for International Understanding named three new members to its board of directors — immigration lawyer Alan Gordon of Charlotte; Cris Mulder, vice president of communications and marketing for KnowledgeWorks, an education social enterprise; and José Pérez, director for global markets for iConsulting, an management consulting company.

High Point University gets $1 million gift

High Point University has received a gift of $1 million from Michael and Laura Baur, parents of a current student, for its Center for Student Success, now under construction and designed to be a hub of experiential learning and career preparation for students.

The center has been funded entirely by parents who have donated a total of $16 million.

HandyCapable gets matching grant to help refurbish computers

HandyCapable in Greensboro has received a matching grant from Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro that covers half the cost of refurbished computers. Eligible nonprofits may by the refurbished computers to replace existing ones.

Make-A-Wish gets $15,000

Trusted Choice and Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina are making a $15,000 contribution to the two Make-A-Wish chapters in the state to help grant wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions.

Greensboro realtors help with home repairs

Members of the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association are volunteering to provide home repairs to a Greensboro homeowner couple for their 6th Annual Realtors ‘R’ Rebuilding project.

Advanced Home Care gives $75,000

Advanced Home Care donated $25,000 each to the “You’re Special” fund at CarePartners, Cone Health Center for Children, and Hospice General Fund at WellStar Foundation.

Advanced Home Care raised the money at its 21st Annual Charity Golf Classic.

Recognize the news value of your work

While news media typically pay little or no attention to nonprofits, much of what they do may be newsworthy.

Yet nonprofits can be so consumed with serving clients and running their business that they fail to even think about the fact that their work might be of interest to a broad audience.

That’s a lost opportunity to raise awareness about your cause and the role your nonprofit plays in improving lives.

So take a few minutes at your nonprofit’s weekly staff meetings to talk about recent developments or plans involving your programs, clients, fundraising, donors, volunteers, board, staff, events and new initiatives.

That brief sharing of information should generate at least a handful of specific ideas that can be developed into news releases or articles for your website or newsletter.

Did a donor make a gift? Did you create a new program or partnership? Did your board add a new member? Did you hire a new employee? Are you planning a fundraising event? Have you evaluated or tracked the impact of a program?

News releases and articles can be short, yet still help get the word out about your work.

By making it part of your weekly routine to think about how to publicize the work you do every day, you can help people better understand the community need you address and inspire them to support your work.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or

Forsyth United Way focuses on collaboration

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — In 2007, when the high school graduation rate in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools was only 70 percent, a community-wide collaborative effort was launched to increase it to 90 percent by 2018. In the school year that ended June 30, the graduation rate had grown to 83.5 percent.

And in 2006, a separate community-wide collaborative effort was formed to reduce chronic homelessness. Last year, chronic homelessness had been reduced by 58 percent.

A key leader in both efforts has been United Way of Forsyth County, which increasingly is looking for collaborative solutions to address urgent and often intertwined problems involving health, education and financial stability.

“Those three things are interconnected in people’s lives,” says Cindy Gordineer, United Way president and CEO. “For us to try to address them in isolation doesn’t really get to the level of the kinds of breaking down of those barriers that people in challenged circumstances need.”

As it begins its annual fall fundraising campaign, Gordineer says, United Way’s overall strategy is to “become more focused and targeted with investments we’re making to get deeper and look more comprehensively at those within the community who face the kinds of barriers our donors are expecting us to address.”

Chaired by Cantey Alexander, regional president for BB&T, the campaign is part of a larger year-round fundraising effort that also includes grants and major gifts and aims this year to generate about $20 million, roughly the total it raised last year.

A key focus of this year’s campaign will be to reach new contributors, including retirees and people who do not work in large, traditional workplaces such entrepreneurs, small business owners and people who work remotely.

The campaign, which last year received contributions from over 30,000 donors, also will be targeting “leadership” donors who give $1,000 or more, and “Tocqueville” donors who give $10,000 or more.

Last year, the campaign generated support from 261 Tocqueville donors.

For the second straight year, BB&T has pledged $100,000 to match gifts by women who give at least $500 and agree to increase their annual gift to $1,000 over five years.

That Women’s Leadership Circle matching program, launched six years ago and previously supported by Reynolds American, last year had 1,150 members.

United Way also has four individual “Cornerstone” donors who each gives at least $100,000 a year.

And over the last three to five years, grants and major gifts outside the annual campaign from individuals and institutions have accounted for 15 percent to 20 percent of the total resources that United Way raises throughout the year. Those gifts include a 10-year, $2 million pledge in 2013 from Andy Brown, former chair of United Way’s board and owner of COR365, a data-storage company.

“We know there are other individuals like Andy, and corporations, that want to invest more deeply in some outcomes they’d like to see that align with United Way’s mission,” Gordineer says. “We’ve been able to demonstrate progress and outcomes, and measure them in a way that individual donors and corporations and foundations want to see.”

An emerging effort in United Way’s larger strategy involves early discussions with neighborhoods that face “more barriers to success” and “need more partnerships to help remove those barriers,” Gordineer says.

“We are looking at how we work with neighborhoods, potential partners and other community organizations to pilot more comprehensive solutions in those neighborhoods or areas that really do face more obstacles,” she says.

The first pilots, likely to involve a “continuum of services” that are “place-based,”  could begin in 2015.

They will be part of United Way’s larger and ongoing community-wide strategy to address critical needs, Gordineer says.

“We are able to look at those community-level issues that face our community,” she says, “and bring resources and partners and strategies, and align all of those to address the kinds of issues that no one agency can address.”

Nonprofit news roundup, 09.19.14

High Point University gets $35.1 million in gifts and pledges

High Point University received $24.3 million in cash gifts in fiscal 2013-14, up from $9.1 million a year earlier, while pledges fell to $10.8 million from $28.2 million, and enrollment grew to 4,300 from 4,000.

Since 2005, the school has raised over $225 million in contributions and invested over $1 billion in growing the institution, while undergraduate enrollment has climbed from 1,450.

Belk Endowment gives $2.3 million

The John M. Belk Endowment has awarded $2.3 million to Central Piedmont Community College, both in Charlotte, to expand its new Developmental Education Program that works to moves students from remedial to college courses more quickly and helps retain students who otherwise might drop out.

Starting in 2014, the Endowment plans to award over $13 million in grants a year to programs and institutions aligned with its mission creating “pathways to prosperity” for underrepresented students by increasing their access to and completion of higher educational opportunities in North Carolina.

Durham schools’ nutrition program wins United Way innovation grant

Child Nutrition Services of the Durham Public Schools has won the $50,000 award from United Way of the Greater Triangle through its Social Innovation Challenge — 100,000 Kids Hungry No More.

A self-funded operation that does not receive funding from the Durham  schools, city or county of Durham, or the state, Child Nutrition Services will use the funds to outfit five schools with equipment that will allow for breakfast in the classroom, “second-chance” breakfast, “grab-and-go” meals, and food kiosks.

Key goals of the program are to enable more students to receive a morning meal, eliminate the stigma associated with “free-and-reduced-cost meals,” and directly affect educational success.

National studies show that students who eat breakfast miss 1.5 fewer days of school a year, score 17.5 percent higher on math tests, and are 20 percent more likely to graduate from high school, United Way says.

The Social Innovation Challenge was a five-month competition to develop new ideas to address childhood hunger in the Triangle.

From forty applications, 12 were selected as semi-finalists, and four became finalists.  The finalists participated in six weeks of education and mentoring to improve their ideas.

The other finalists included Grocers on Wheels, Pennies 4 Progress and Yes2Fresh.

The finalists presented their final pitches to a panel of judges during United Way’s third annual CEO Sleep Out on Sept. 11, 2014.

Durham Public Schools also won a special $5,000 CEO Selects Award given by the executives and community leaders who participated in the Sleep Out.

‘Foundation Fair’ set for eastern North Carolina

Nonprofits in eastern North Carolina are invited to meet representatives of foundations from throughout the state at the 2014 Foundation Fair on October 14 in New Bern.

The event, hosted each year by the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers, is designed to give nonprofits an opportunity to interact with and learn about foundations in the state and find foundations that have missions similar to their own.

The Foundation Fair, to be held at the Riverfront Convention Center, will include a session from 10 a.m. to noon, and another from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Each nonprofit may attend only one session. To participate, nonprofits must register through the North Carolina Network of Grantmakers for either the morning or the afternoon session.

Minor promoted to VP for advancement for UNC system

Tim Minor, associate vice president for university advancement at General Administration for the 18-campus University of North Carolina system, has been named vice president for university advancement.

Before joining UNC General Administration a year ago, Minor served as associate vice chancellor at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro, where his roles were senior academic and administrative officer and chief operating officer of development, specializing in major gifts, annual fund, corporate and foundation giving, and gift planning management.

Gray named president of Weaver Foundation

Kevin Gray, interim president of the Weaver Foundation in Greensboro, has been named president, effective immediately.

He has served in the interim role since the retirement of Richard “Skip” Moore on Jan. 1, 2014.  Moore had served as president since July 1999.

Gray joined the Foundation in 2004 as a volunteer. In 2005, he worked part-time while also serving as coordinator for the newly formed Greensboro Nonprofit Consortium, and became a full-time employee in 2007. In 2013, he was appointed vice president and program officer.

National Humanities Center names new president

Robert D. Newman, dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Utah, has been named president and director of the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, effective July 1, 2015.

He will succeed Geoffrey G. Harpham, who has led the Center since 2003 and recently announced his retirement.

At the University of Utah, where he has served as Humanities dean since 2001, Newman also has served as associate vice president for interdisciplinary studies, special advisor to the senior vice president for academic affairs, and professor of English.

Family Dollar gives $458,000 to Feeding America

Family Dollar Stores in Charlotte has given $458,000 to hunger-relief charity Feeding America. The total, including donations from Family Dollar and customers at over 8,200 of its stores, will provide over 4.5 million meals for children and families in need.

Three nonprofits receive Stewardship Awards

Financial Pathways of the Piedmont in Winston-Salem, El Futuro in Durham, and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont in Charlotte received 2014 Nonprofit Sector Stewardship Awards from the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

Community School of the Arts gets $200,000

Community School of the Arts in Charlotte has received anonymous gifts totaling $200,000 in honor of Carol Cuthbertson Hamrick,  its newest lifetime board member.

The funds will be used to create a $200,000 quasi-endowment, its largest endowment ever, to provide for the long-term support of the School. And if the school ever decides to establish a permanent building or home, it can use the corpus of the quasi-endowment to support that effort.

The School also honored Hamrick and three other lifetime board members – founder Henry Bridges, George Campbell and Harriette Line Thompson — at an event at the home of Scott and Jenny Stevens.

Old Salem gets $150,000

Old Salem Museums & Gardens has received $150,000 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Old Salem will use the funds to help transform its 1794 Boys’ School into an exhibit building and educational experience.

Thompson Child & Focus gets $10,000

The Rite Aid Foundation has given $10,000 grant to Thompson Child & Family Focus, a nonprofit in Matthews that supports at-risk children and families through therapy, education and care.

Charlotte-area lawyers, advocates donate time

Roughly 550 lawyers and advocates gave over 6,400 pro-bono hours over the past year to the Council for Children’s Rights, Legal Aid of North Carolina, and Legal Services of Southern Piedmont, serving nearly 1,300 local children, families and individuals in need in the region.

On September 16, the three agencies hosted the third annual Pro Bono Awards at Foundation for the Carolinas. The event included a special presentation to honor Sarah Parker, former chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court, for her commitment to access to justice in the state.

Awards and winners included:

* Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award, a lifetime achievement honor — Larry J. Dagenhart of McGuireWoods.

* Outstanding Firm Service Award — Katten Muchin Rosenman; Conrad Trosch & Kemmy; and Norelli Law.

* Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award — Sheri A. Harrison; Stephen D. Allred of McGuireWoods; and Landon S. Eustache of Hunton & Williams.

* Outstanding Volunteer Service Award — Harriet “Sis” Kaplan for over five years of service in the Custody Advocacy Program at the Council for Children’s Rights.

Greensboro United Way honors four philanthropists

United Way of Greater Greensboro honored four philanthropists at its 4th Annual Women in Philanthropy Luncheon, which was held on September 3 at Grandover Resort and Conference Center and attracted over 700 individuals.

Recipients of the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award were Royce and Jane Reynolds, while recipients of the 2014 Legacy Award were Phyllis Shavitz and Joy Shavitz.

Bike event to benefit MS Society

The Greater Carolinas Chapter of the National MS Society will hold its 29th annual Bike MS: VF Corporation & Wrangler Tour to Tanglewood on September 27 and 28.

Presented by B&G Foods and beginning at Tanglewood Park in Clemmons, the event will include over 1,500 cyclists and 500 volunteers and is expected to raise $1 million.

Nine nonprofits get pro-bono work from Excalibur

Nine nonprofits have received over $40,000 worth of pro-bono direct-marketing services from Excalibur Direct Marketing in Winston-Salem.

Volunteers to paint, fix up homes

Community Housing Solutions in Greensboro will hold its 4th Annual Paint The Town in the Southmont and Spring Valley neighborhoods on Saturday.

Over 140 volunteers from area businesses and faith organizations will provide low-painting, minor home repairs and landscaping for low-income homeowners.

Hospice of Davidson County to train new volunteers

Hospice of Davidson County will offer training sessions for new volunteers from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on October 7, 8 and 9 at the Administrative Building on its campus at 200 Hospice Way in Lexington.

Women in prison and their children focus of partnership

Our  Children’s Place, a Chapel Hill nonprofit that supports children of incarcerated parents, and Mothers and Their Children, a family resources center at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women in Raleigh, are teaming up to expand a program a community outreach and education program at the nonprofit.

Women in the correctional institution use donated yarn to handcraft hats, baby outfits, blankets and other items. Those items, along with items handcrafted by community members, are displayed at awareness events throughout the year.

Donations received in exchange for a handcrafted item will be used to support the awareness and outreach activities of Our Children’s Place, and to help with the transportation needs of the children involved in Mothers and Their Children.

One of the MATCH programs brings children of incarcerated women to the prison to visit with their mothers. Inside the prison, MATCH runs a visitation center for mothers and their children to share.

Realtors give supplies to Greensboro school

Members of the Community Service Committee of the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association donated 1,600 composition books and 800 folders for children at Hunter Elementary School in Greensboro.

Transparency can help build trust

Nonprofits and foundations often talk about the need for transparency in the charitable world but can fall far short of it themselves.

Whether or not your charity claims to be transparent, you should make it easy for anyone — individual donors, institutional funders, other nonprofits, news reporters, the general public — to find basic information about your organization.

Your website should explain your mission, programs and basic financial data, along with links to the Form 990 tax return you file with the Internal Revenue Services.

It also should include the names, titles, phone numbers and email addresses of the members of your staff, as well as the names, outside affiliations and similar contact information for members of your board.

You also should consider posting short biographies and photos of your staff and board members. Visitors to you website, particularly prospective donors, grantees and other clients and partners, want to know who they are doing business with.

And when anyone contacts your organization, make sure you respond quickly. You do not want to lose a potential donor, funder, volunteer or partner, or leave a reporter thinking you are trying to hide something.

When you distribute a news release, be sure to include key details. If you are announcing you have been awarded a grant or gift, for example, don’t simply describe it as “generous,” but how much it is for and who is making it.

Making basic information about your organization easily accessible is an important step in building the trust you need to do your job and advance your mission.

Want help?

Philanthropy North Carolina is a consulting practice that provides writing and strategic communications support for nonprofits, foundations, colleges and universities, and others working for social good.

To find out more about hiring Philanthropy North Carolina to work with your organization to improve your communications, contact Todd Cohen at 919.272.2051 or