UPDATE: The event was rescheduled to Aug. 30 due to the power outage in Wilmington on Aug. 24.
WILMINGTON — The $1.25-billion community endowment, created from the 2021 sale of county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant, has announced a public session on criteria to be considered for its first round of grants.
New Hanover Community Endowment (NHCE) is calling the money it will funnel back into the community “Cape Fear Opportunities and Needs Grants.” The goal is to address the most pressing concerns in health, education, safety, and economic opportunity in New Hanover County.
“Holding this information session will allow the community to understand how to be part of the exciting and transformational work that the Endowment is going to be doing, while also giving us the chance to increase accessibility and awareness, so money goes to where it can do the most good,” endowment CEO and president William Buster said in a release from NHCE.
Buster was hired in January after having worked at Asheville’s Dogwood Health Trust as senior vice president of impact. Similar to the Novant-NHRMC sale, Dogwood’s $1.5-billion trust formed out of the Asheville Mission Health-HCA Healthcare deal in 2019.
The CEO works closely with 13 members of the NHC endowment board, as well as committees, stakeholders and organizations to ensure it reaches diversity, equity and inclusion within health, education, safety and economic sectors in the community. The team has been meeting with local leaders and nonprofits in town to learn about root causes and challenges the community-at-large faces, in order to properly assess solutions.
“I have heard about many issues, including affordable housing, the impact of mold in our public housing, food insecurity, language barriers, lack of transportation, the opioid crisis, the need to integrate equitable strategies, the need to work together to build up our youth, the need to uplift trade education and more,” Buster wrote in his “First 150 Days Letter” on the endowment’s website.
Immediate plans include launching a monthly breakfast with five local leaders by fall to learn more about areas of importance from others’ points of view.
He noted he has been filling out the endowment staff and named its 18-member Community Advisory Council, which will meet quarterly and work as a liaison between the board and community.
Buster also said he and the board have been meeting to form clear ideas, goals and strategies, a “months-long” process they hope to have completed by the end of the year in order to create a pathway for smart investments in education, health and social equity, public safety, and community development.
The endowment website also notes it will work on a national, state and local level to leverage other opportunities and more resources for the county.
“We’re thrilled to begin working alongside the community to achieve our vision of building New Hanover County into a place where everyone can thrive,” Spence Broadhurst, board chair of the NHCE, said in a release.
The grantmaking public information session is scheduled for Aug. 24, 6:30 p.m., at an event space in the Harrelson Center (20 N 4th St.). It will cover grant criteria, an explanation of the application process and a community question-and-answer portion. The endowment website notes that applications will be accepted by September.
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