State-Level Systemic Change

Funding Agency:
Reynolds Foundation, Z. Smith

COVID-19 has changed the world in which we live, yet its full ramifications are not yet known. As a Foundation that is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians, we are striving to be responsive, flexible and adaptive during this time of uncertainty. There is much that is unknown about what is to come from the impacts of our current situation, but we remain hopeful that with intentional effort we will make it through this time stronger as a state and as a people.
While we are continuing to address short term urgent needs during this time, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation wants to remain supportive of our longstanding grantee partners who are working towards state-level systemic change and at the same time remain open to new ideas and opportunities, some of which may be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To that end, Trustees made several decisions during their May 2020 Board meeting, one of which is related to modifications to the State-Level Systemic Change Strategy Fall 2020 grant cycle.
ZSR’s State-Level Systemic Change Strategy supports state, regional and local organizations, coalitions, or collaboratives that are working to achieve systemic change at the state level within and across the following priority areas: Advancing Public Education, Fostering a Healthy and Sustainable Environment, Promoting Social and Economic Justice, and Strengthening Democracy. ZSR recognizes that each of these four areas intersect in multiple ways, and will look for approaches that not only strengthen each, but also work across them.​ ZSR recognizes that COVID-19 is impacting many of the nonprofit organizations that are working across these four priority areas.
While the Foundation has a smaller funding pool to make State-Level Systemic Change Strategy grants in the Fall of 2020, ZSR will have an open cycle to accept applications from any eligible organization that is interested in applying for a grant to do state-level systemic change work. In recognition of the existing relationship the Foundation has with its current State-Level Systemic Change (SLSC) grantees whose grants will be ending in December 2020 – which we are referring to as SLSC December 2020 Grantees – we have chosen to provide them with a streamlined application process only if they are applying for a continuation of their ongoing work. ZSR will follow up directly with SLSC December 2020 Grantees outlining a process through which they can apply to continue their ongoing work. This streamlined process does not imply that a grant will be awarded.
Any organization that is not a SLSC December 2020 Grantee applying to do ongoing work will need to submit ZSR’s standard application. For example, if you are a new applicant, a former grantee or a current grantee applying for new work, you will need to submit our standard application. Also, organizations may request multi-year funding; however, in an effort to remain responsive, flexible and adaptive to the rapid changes that we are experiencing, the Foundation anticipates making a limited number of multi-year awards for the Fall 2020 grant cycle.
We encourage all applicants to read through our list of Frequently Asked Questions for the State-Level Systemic Change Strategy Fall 2020 grant cycle and Rarely Fund List to determine whether their work fits into the State-Level Systemic Change Strategy.
The deadline to submit an application for the State-Level Systemic Change Strategy Fall 2020 grant cycle is July 23, 2020 at 12:00pm (noon).

Agency Website

Areas of Interest

As part of ZSR's State-Level Systemic Change Strategy, we focus on four priority areas that are integral to achieving this state-level vision. We recognize that each of these four areas intersect in multiple ways, and look for approaches that not only strengthen each, but also work holistically within and across them.​

  • Advancing Public Education
  • Fostering a Healthy and Sustainable Environment
  • Promoting Social and Economic Justice
  • Strengthening Democracy

Eligibility Requirements

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation is restricted to making grants to charitable, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organizations, colleges/universities, religious entities and government units for programs and projects that serve the people of North Carolina. Out-of-state charitable organizations are eligible to apply for funds to support projects operating in North Carolina.

Funding Type





Community Outreach and Engagement
Environmental & Life Sciences
Medical - Clinical Science
Medical - Translational
Social Sciences

External Deadline

July 23, 2020