NHC Endowment will outline the criteria for awarding grants at the next information session

WILMINGTON — The $1.25 billion community endowment, created from the 2021 sale of the county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant, announced a public hearing on the criteria to consider for its first round of grants.

The New Hanover Community Endowment (NHCE) is calling the money it will put back into the community “Cape Fear Opportunities and Needs Grants.” The goal is to address the most pressing health, education, safety and economic opportunity concerns in New Hanover County.

READ MORE: Endowment for the sale of hospitals takes shape, highlights of past year’s activities outlined

“Holding this information session will allow the community to understand how to be part of the exciting and transformational work that the endowment will do, while also giving us the chance to increase accessibility and awareness, so that the money goes where it can do the most good,” CEO and Endowment Chairman William Buster said in an NHCE statement.

Buster was hired in January after working at Dogwood Health Trust in Asheville as senior vice president of impact. Similar to the Novant-NHRMC sale, the $1.5 billion Dogwood trust was formed from the Asheville Mission Health-HCA Healthcare deal in 2019.

The CEO works closely with 13 members of the NHC Endowment Council, as well as committees, stakeholders and organizations to ensure he achieves diversity, equity and inclusion in the sectors community health, education, safety and economy. The team met with local leaders and nonprofits in the city to learn more about the root causes and challenges facing the community as a whole, in order to properly assess solutions.

“I heard about many issues including affordable housing, the impact of mold in our social housing, food insecurity, language barriers, lack of transportation, the opioid crisis, the need to integrate equitable strategies, the need to work together to build our youth, the need to improve business 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 in the fall to learn about areas of importance from others’ perspectives.

He noted that he had completed the staffing staff and appointed his 18-member Community Advisory Board, which will meet quarterly and serve as a liaison between the board and the community.

Buster also said he and the board met to formulate clear ideas, goals and strategies, a “month-long” process they hope to have completed by the end of the year in order to to create a pathway for smart investments in education, health and social equity, public safety and community development.

The endowment’s website also notes that it will work at the national, state and local levels to leverage other opportunities and more resources for the county.

“We are excited to begin working alongside the community to achieve our vision of making New Hanover County a place where everyone can thrive,” said Spence Broadhurst, Chairman of the NHCE Board of Directors, in a press release.

The grantmaking public information session is scheduled for August 24 at 4:30 p.m. in an event space at the Harrelson Center (20 N 4th St.). It will cover the grant criteria, an explanation of the application process, and a community Q&A section. The staffing website notes that applications will be accepted by September.

The session will be aired on NHCTV (Spectrum Channel 13) and streamed via New Hanover County Government TV’s website and YouTube channel. Spanish and ASL interpretation will also be available.

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