“We know it’s the community’s money”: NHC Endowment listens to ideas on where to spend $1.25 billion

Although grants won't be issued until late 2022, many non-profits turned out to pitch for funds
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 12:26 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Eight months after the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant, the 13-member board that oversees the $1.25 billion netted from the sale is getting input from the community.

The New Hanover County Endowment met at the Wilmington Convention Center Tuesday evening to hear from members of the community on ways the money can be spent.

“We’re really looking for ideas — you know things we may not be aware of,” said Spence Broadhurst, President of the Endowment and Board Chair. “This isn’t the night to ask for grants, right. We’re nowhere near that part of the process. This is a time to think about ideas — think about the community, think about how we can really put this money to work to really transform this community.”

Amy Jeffrey, the interim executive director of the DREAMS Center for Arts Education, spoke on behalf of youth serving organizations such as DREAMS and Kids Making It. She said raising funds is time consuming and takes away from their mission.

“Each non-profit leader here this evening can attest to the fact that raising funds is one of the biggest stressors that we face,” Jeffrey said. “It eats up a lot of time for us and what we could do with that extra thirty minutes to sit down and talk to a kid literally changes lives.”

Each speaker was allowed to talk for three minutes. Some were not prepared for a time limit like Ashley Daniels. She said she was addressing the board as a longtime concerned citizen. She referenced the need for assistance in communities during Hurricane Florence and how those closest to the communities stepped up when no one else did — even during the start of the pandemic. Daniels, out of time, managed to get in one other need for this community.

“I also want to say that this foundation has time, space, resources to address affordable housing. Thank you.”

Broadhurst says this is just the beginning of a process that will go well into next year. The board will not start accepting proposals until Sept. 2022.

“We’re going to appoint a community advisory council that will be representative of the entire community that will continue to give us ideas,” Broadhurst said. “Reach out into the community in all different areas and give us more ideas. We’re also in the process of hiring our CEO which we hope to have done by the end of the year. Then we, along with our CEO will take these ideas and start developing the criteria or the guidelines for the grants. We want to make it as simple as we can.”

The next listening session is scheduled for Dec. 1, although Broadhurst said a location had not been determined.

“We encourage people to go to our website and there’s a way to go there and sign up for the December 1st and make suggestions and recommendations without actually coming here in person.”

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