In 2022, Dogwood made $73,872,565 in grants, including Leverage Fund investments.
In addition to grants, Dogwood also makes “impact investments” in projects across the region. These can take the form of loans, fund investments or equity ownership that complements or enhances the impact of our grantmaking activity. Some of these investments may occasionally deliver a modest financial return, which Dogwood can then reinvest in community, but the real “payback” is the positive impact they have on health and wellbeing for WNC. Impact investing projects in 2022 included a bridge loan to help a community health organization attract permanent USDA funding to purchase and renovate a building, a bridge loan to purchase land for affordable housing, and a short-term loan to repair and renovate a building to create supportive housing.
The work of Dogwood would not exist without the hundreds of partners who know their communities best. Their work reminds us that creating positive changes in health and wellbeing means going beyond historic boundaries, working across disciplines, and collaborating with openness and transparency. As the following stories show, the result is shared success that builds upon itself.
In the Town of Spindale in Rutherford County, grants to Rutherford Habitat for Humanity and Rutherford Housing Partnership to build and restore affordable housing in a historic mill neighborhood sparked a wave of enthusiasm across the town. Other homeowners are fixing up their properties, and a local church and town leaders are partnering to build a new skate park and pump track for area youth.
An impact investment loan from Dogwood helped Vecinos, a regional nonprofit providing culturally appropriate health and wellness services to the uninsured, low-income and farmworker community, purchase a new building in Franklin. In this new location, Vecinos will partner with Pisgah Legal Services, 30th Judicial Alliance and El Centro Communitario to create a hub of supportive health, legal and cultural services in Macon and Jackson Counties and beyond.
In the spring of 2021, Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) became one of five community colleges for the initial cohort for N.C. Reconnect, an initiative focused on recruiting and supporting adult learners. With support from Dogwood, BRCC hired two Success Coaches to help adult students re-enter the college environment. During the 2021-22 academic year, BRCC success coaches worked with more than 700 students, retaining more than 80% as compared to a typical rate of 50%. Because of this success, Tri-County Community College, AB-Tech, and McDowell Tech have also begun this program.
The Center for Community Self-Help, working with YMI and other partners, used support from Dogwood to launch a Building Black Ownership and Financial Capability program in 2020, aimed at increasing financial capability, as well as home and business ownership among African Americans living in Asheville/Buncombe County and surrounding counties. In the first two years, nearly 300 people participated in various offerings of this program, including 31 who then qualified for a 2:1 savings match and eight who became homeowners.
Whether distributing food supplies during COVID-19, increasing our region’s count in the 2020 Census, or responding to the impacts of flooding from Tropical Storm Fred, WNC Communities serves Western North Carolina through 64 community centers that collectively serve more than 106,000 households. With a multi-year grant from Dogwood, WNC Communities provided capacity building support for these community centers, which have strengthened their programs by building skills and capacity for governance, leadership, financial stewardship, volunteer recruitment and retention, community programs and civic engagement and collaboration.
Local Smart Start partnerships across the region have been working together to support preschool-aged children and their families for 25 years. In 2021, Dogwood supported a multi-year effort to strengthen the resilience and social/emotional health of young learners and the families and educators who care for them. More than 150 early educators and caregivers attended resilience training workshops, and nearly 5,000 families engaged in community outreach in partnership with Sesame Street in Communities during 2022.
“This is not standard practice for community colleges and we are excited about offering this ‘High Touch’ service to our students. "– Lisa Adkins, Blue Ridge Community College
“Building capacity of grassroots community centers strengthens the fabric of our entire region and provides local residents with better access to social connections that increase health and wellbeing."– Susan Garrett, WNC Communities
“This was the BEST training that I have taken in my entire career. This information will not only benefit me personally but also professionally. I feel that everyone – I mean everyone – should be required to take this training. I have learned so much about myself and how to make adjustments in my presence in conversation personally and professionally."– Early Childhood Educator