At Dogwood, we are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, and these values inform our purpose, our strategic priorities and our decisions. For us, equity exists when all people have unconstrained opportunities to live lives of dignity and wellbeing, regardless of place, race, health, wealth, age, identity or ability. As part of our commitment to equity, we seek to advance racial equity in all aspects of our organization, from our culture to our interactions with partners and our grantmaking decisions. Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) have played key roles in the history of Western North Carolina. Systems and policies that have benefitted many in our society have simultaneously prevented BIPOC individuals and communities from sharing in the opportunity and prosperity that our region can provide. These circumstances have pervaded every part of WNC life for centuries, and we can start to address them in ways that create permanent, positive change as part of our broader commitment to equity.
We embrace racial equity as a factor across all of our grantmaking and also designate funding specifically for communities of color in our efforts to help create more equitable systems. We support organizations that seek to build awareness of and find solutions that build a more racially just world through innovative ideas, compelling information, just practices and transformative work. Racial equity grants are made on a rolling basis, with approval times generally ranging from three to six months from application to award. The process begins with a conversation; start by clicking the button below.
In 2014, the City of Asheville commissioned a report to study the effects of gentrification in the East Riverside area. The report revealed rapid gentrification and displacement in the city, ripple effects of historic discriminatory policies such as redlining and urban renewal. In response to these findings and in effort to support equitable programming, the City recommended the incorporation of a community land trust to combat the lasting effects of policies that disproportionately displaced thousands of people in Asheville’s black and low-income communities.
Due to long histories of oppressive marginalization, American Indian communities across the US experience significant health, social, and economic disparities as compared to non-Indigenous communities. Among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ enrolled members, 23% live at or below the poverty level, compared to 15% of non-Indigenous WNC residents. The Center for Disease Control recently concluded that “American Indian communities bear a greater burden of health risk factors and chronic disease than other racial/ethnic minority populations.” The Center for Native Health (CNH) was established in 2009 to address these disparities by integrating traditional, community-based knowledge into all facets of American Indian health and education.
Nicole Cush, Principal of Asheville’s School of Inquiry and Life Sciences (SILSA), is an expert in social-emotional learning. When she observed behavioral struggles between young women of color, she recognized an opportunity to help the girls strengthen their social-emotional skills and increase positive social and academic outcomes. Equipped with a deep love for her students and her own lived experience, Principal Cush created the Glitter Sisters to serve as a safe space for girls aged 15-18 to navigate personal growth, collaboration, and professional development.
Henderson County is home to a diverse and growing community of people who identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to 2020 Census data, representing nearly 11% of the county’s population. Despite this, Latino communities experience unique challenges and barriers to becoming fully engaged in the local community. Current and past discriminatory policies in immigration, law enforcement and housing, as well as language barriers, poverty, education disparities, lack of local representation, and limitations to sustainable employment create hardship. This is especially true for undocumented residents who often choose not to seek needed care or assistance, fearing deportation.
In the 1940s and 50s, the historically black Grahamtown community in Rutherford County was a bustling neighborhood. Today, nearly a third of all residential properties in Grahamtown are dilapidated, boarded up, or falling in. In 2014, several residents banded together to establish the Grahamtown Team (G-Team). The G-Team serves to support healthy living and responsible development in the community by providing programs and services such as exercise classes, a community garden, food pantry, computer lab, youth education and enrichment programs, and the Healthy Homes Community Revitalization Project.
Giving voice and power to historically excluded community is complex work. How do you build trust? How do you keep individuals engaged? How do you ensure that the work is authentic every step of the way? How do you provide access to those who make policy decisions? If only there were a guide! Thanks to the West Marion Community Forum (WMCF), there is.
For the past three years, Executive Director Paula Swepson- Avery and consultant Mary Snow have collaborated to share the success of this organization. Their new toolkit, Shift Happens in Community: A Toolkit to Build Power & Ignite Change, will be available soon.