To encourage economic growth in rural North Carolina and South Carolina, The Duke Endowment launched an effort in 2001 involving 22 communities and $11.7 million in grants. The Endowment is no longer accepting grant applications for this closed initiative.
Rural communities in the Carolinas are home to many hardworking people, strong local churches, thriving businesses and multi-generation family farms. But despite their rich roots and enduring traditions, many rural communities face considerable challenges. Plant closings, cultural divides and leadership shortages have left many communities struggling to generate positive economic growth and adequate workforce development. Without a ready workforce, it is difficult to attract business ventures that yield new jobs, and a cycle of decline sets in.
The Duke Endowment launched an effort to work with traditional grantees—hospitals and rural United Methodist churches—to produce tangible economic outcomes, such as new or better jobs as a result of training or job development, and lay the foundation for more far-reaching change.
To provide initiative management and staffing, The Duke Endowment partnered with MDC, a nonprofit in Raleigh, N.C., that helps organizations and communities close the gaps that separate people from opportunity. Twenty-two counties or multi-county regions were selected to participate.
The first-year focus was on recruiting community team members. In the following years, sites worked on organizing their teams, developing local programs and finding assets to sustain economic renewal work beyond Endowment support.
See participating sites in North Carolina and South Carolina.