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Dogwood Health Trust Holds Annual Meeting, Announces New Grant Cycles and Focus Areas for 2023

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Asheville, N.C. – TodayDogwood Health Trust held its Annual Meeting on the campus of Blue Ridge Community College before a crowd of more than 400 nonprofit leaders, community members and partners. Expert philanthropy consultant and former president of MDC in Durham, David Dodson was the keynote speaker. Dogwood CEO Dr. Susan Mims announced that the organization is in the process of fulfilling completed grant requests for 2022 and has finalized focus areas and updated its grantmaking process for 2023.

In her opening remarks, Mims shared how the organization arrived at its new focus areas and grantmaking process. She noted that in 2021 Dogwood used insights from partners and communities, combined with additional research and data, to create 17 goals and 13 objectives across its four strategic priority areas of Housing, Education, Economic Opportunity, and Health & Wellness.

“Dogwood immediately began working with partners and community organizations to invest in initiatives and projects that would support our priority areas, goals and objectives,” said Mims. “As a result of that work, I’m proud to say that Dogwood Health Trust has made or committed roughly $74 million in grants and more than $12 million in impact investments  for 2022.” Mims went on to note that Western North Carolina hasn’t always been able to claim its fair share of federal and state dollars for the region, so Dogwood also worked with partners “to bring more than $10 million dollars from outside sources, with more than $50 million in additional funds pending awards.”

Mims added that Dogwood continues to build on that momentum and its commitment to listening to community partners, studying past grants and sourcing new data. As a result, the Dogwood leadership team and Board recently finalized its new focus areas to support its four strategic priorities. In addition to the overviews provided in the meeting and below, community members are encouraged to explore each of the new focus areas by visiting the Dogwood website.

Affordable housing needs in Western North Carolina are well-documented in the Bowen Regional Housing Needs Assessment commissioned by Dogwood and in other sources. This shortage is particularly acute for those who require permanent supportive housing and for seniors. In addition to working with partners to leverage multiple sources of expertise and funding to create new affordable housing, Dogwood looks forward to helping groups of partners preserve and rebuild existing housing as a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. 

In 2022, Dogwood focused its efforts around education by supporting research on the early care and education (ECE) landscape capturing those issues for the region. In 2023, Dogwood will launch a multi-year effort with partners focused on growing and sustaining the ECE workforce for WNC communities, as well as exploring opportunities to expand quality out-of-school time experiences for K-12 students.

Dogwood recognizes that economic opportunity in Western North Carolina relies on a complex economic ecosystem that includes small business entrepreneurs and international manufacturing centers. The challenge is to address barriers to economic sustainability – improving connectivity across the region, increasing access to capital, and building a workforce that is ready to engage in jobs that offer both fulfillment and financial security to help individuals and families build wealth. In 2023, Dogwood will focus on job training, recruitment and retention efforts, building entrepreneurial networks, leveraging opportunities for business development in rural and/or communities of color, and increasing broadband access and adoption across the region.

The factors that influence the health and well-being of individuals and families are nearly countless and weave throughout all of Dogwood’s strategic priority areas. An ever-growing body of research, as well as stories from across the region, shows that trauma and toxic stress play a critical role in shaping health outcomes, particularly for marginalized populations and children. The region’s struggle with mental health and addiction is a key indicator of the levels of trauma and stress currently at play. Dogwood seeks to provide support for parents and children that reduce trauma and stress, work compassionately to address those dealing with mental health challenges and substance use disorder, and create welcoming and interconnected communities for people of all ages; with the hope of creating a healthier Western North Carolina. 

To help clarify and simplify the grantmaking process, Dogwood will be moving to two grant cycles in 2023. The first cycle is anticipated to open in January, with funding distributed by June/July. The second cycle is planned for May, with funding distributed by the end of the year. Within each cycle, Dogwood’s strategic priority areas may include open community opportunities, invitation-only calls, Requests for Proposals (RFPs), partner convenings and learnings, to name a few.

A recording of the annual meeting will be available on the Dogwood Health Trust website within a week.

About Dogwood Health Trust

Dogwood Health Trust is a private foundation based in Asheville, North Carolina with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and wellbeing of all people and communities of 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust focuses on innovative and equitable ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellbeing, with a focus on housing, education, economic opportunity, and health and wellness. Dogwood Health Trust works to create a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all, no exceptions. To learn more, please visit


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Health & Wellness | Goal 4

Increase Access to Behavioral Health and Substance Use Prevention and Treatment

Support programs and networks that reduce deaths, treat addiction, and prevent first use

Objective 4.1: Reduce opioid overdose mortality throughout the region

Objective 4.2: Reduce untreated behavioral health and substance use disorder in disproportionately affected communities

Objective 4.3: Prevent and reduce behavioral health issues and substance use (tobacco, alcohol, illicit and prescription drugs) in youth

Health & Wellness | Goal 3

Address Health Disparities

Help reduce disparities based on race, location, education and income factors

Objective 3.1: Improve health outcomes for women and infants in rural and low-income communities and communities of color

Objective 3.2: Reduce the prevalence of common chronic health diseases in disproportionately affected communities

Objective 3.3: Increase effectiveness of health care through delivery of culturally aligned services

Health & Wellness | Goal 2

Increase Access to Whole-Person Health Care

Invest in integrated heath care with seamless connections to supportive services

Objective 2.1: Increase the number of people with affordable health insurance coverage

Objective 2.2: Increase the available workforce for primary and allied health care services

Objective 2.3: Increase access to comprehensive and integrated care

Objective 2.4: Increase access to community-based services in low-income, elderly and rural communities

Health & Wellness | Goal 1

Support and Build Healthy Communities

Support communities that promote healthy living and resiliency and help mitigate the impact of trauma, isolation and stress on individuals and families, especially those experiencing poverty

Objective 1.1: Decrease adverse experiences (ACEs and traumatic violence) and improve individual and family resiliency

Objective 1.2: Increase access to community environments that promote healthy living and social connectedness across the age continuum

Economic Opportunity | Goal 4

Foster Entrepreneurship

Support a well-funded, sustainable, competitive entrepreneur and small business ecosystem throughout the region

Objective 4.1: Increase the number of Person of Color (POC)-led small businesses throughout the region

Objective 4.2: Increase the number of rural small businesses throughout the region

Economic Opportunity | Goal 3

Build Economic Ecosystems

Help build a regional economic ecosystem that supports increased creation/retention of jobs and business ownership

Objective 3.1: Improve access to higher-paying jobs throughout the region, targeting the lowest income populations

Objective 3.2: Increase and retain quality jobs

Objective 3.3: Stimulate economic growth, catalyzing businesses and revenue

Economic Opportunity | Goal 2

Promote Work Readiness

Help build a skilled workforce with the knowledge and technical abilities to excel in a wide range of industry employment opportunities that provide a competitive, sustainable wage

Objective 2.1: Close the educational attainment gap in WNC, staying on pace with regional and county-specific projections (myFutureNC 2030).

Economic Opportunity | Goal 1

Develop a Comprehensive Data Resource

Source, analyze and share a comprehensive, county-by-county data set that paints a full picture of work readiness, economic development and entrepreneurial needs and opportunities specific to Western North Carolina

Education | Goal 3

Support Higher Education Career Readiness

Work in tandem with Economic Opportunity Strategic Priority to invest in career readiness at the community college and university levels

Objective 4.1: Close the educational attainment gap in WNC, staying on pace with regional and county-specific projections (myFutureNC 2030).

Education | Goal 2

Improve K-12 Education

Support K-12 learning experiences with the resources and sustainability to provide an excellent academic and social-emotional education, so that all students graduate ready for college or career

Objective 2.1: Address teacher workforce challenges

Objective 2.2: Equip families of students to support academic growth and social-emotional health

Objective 2.3: Increase capacity of partners to provide supports and services, particularly for children facing challenges related to poverty, systemic racism, being differently abled or English language learners

Education | Goal 1

Improve Early Childhood Education Ecosystem

Invest in an improved early childhood education ecosystem with the resources and sustainability to provide developmentally appropriate, affordable and accessible education and care to support ages birth to five, so that all children in WNC enter kindergarten ready to learn

Objective: Address early childhood educator workforce challenges

Education | Goal 4

Develop a Comprehensive Landscape Study

Source, analyze and share a comprehensive set of publicly available data that provides a regularly updated, county-by-county picture of access, workforce and student outcomes in early childhood education and K-12 education specific to Western North Carolina

Housing | Goal 5

Use Impact Investments to Create Affordable and Workforce Housing

Loans, guarantees, and other financial tools to leverage funding opportunities

Housing | Goal 4

Create and Preserve Housing Units for Persons Below 50% of the Median Income

Increase affordable housing for lowest-income individuals and families

Objective 4.1: Create rental units for households below 50% of the median income

Objective 4.2: Help families pay no more than 30% of their income on housing

Objective 4.3: Create and preserve communities in a way that is representative of the WNC natural landscape

Housing | Goal 3

Create and Preserve Senior Housing

Support age-appropriate resources in affordable and workforce units, rental and owned

Objective 3.1: Create needed rental and homeownership opportunities for seniors

Objective 3.2: Incorporate supportive services in rental housing developments

Objective 3.3: Increase use of universal design in development

Housing | Goal 2

Create and Preserve Supportive Housing Rental Units

Invest in housing with sustainable supports for physical and mental health and wellbeing

Objective 2.1: Create new supportive housing

Objective 2.2: Preserve existing supportive housing

Objective 2.3: Leverage state and federal funds

Single story home in the midst of being build with 3 volunteers helping.

Housing | Goal 1

Support Healthy and Safe Revitalization Opportunities

Support healthy and safe revitalizations that work against displacement and gentrification, preserve home ownership and create generational wealth.

Objective 1.1: Revitalize Neighborhoods

Objective 1.2: Repurpose existing structures to minimize environmental impact

Objective 1.3: Support home ownership