Affiliate boards leverage Blueprint for Success to impact local hunger

 When Karen Ray and Ron Wesson saw a growing problem in their local community, they acted.

Connected through their service on the Bertie-Hertford Community Foundation board of advisors, Ray and Wesson launched Youth Bertie, a nonprofit designed to ensure that underprivileged students go home from school with food for the weekend, in one of the poorest counties in the state often cited as one of the highest food insecure areas in the country.

Karen Ray“We knew we were the only county in this area without a program to feed children on the weekends,” Ray said. In Bertie County, 95% of students qualify for school meals and nearly 30% are at nutritional risk, according to her.

“Our board recognized the need to address food insecurity affecting a large portion of our youth in Bertie County,” said Laura Beasley, NCCF board member and Bertie-Hertford Community Foundation president. “Through our leadership in the community and by convening different entities, we have made a huge impact on making sure children do not go hungry over the weekends.”

Ray spoke to the power of their program to spark community change. “We realized that tackling this was a good way to tackle a lot of the problems we have in Bertie County,” she said.

Much of the inspiration for that spark came when Ray attended an NCCF affiliate forum of leaders from across the eastern part of the state. She left the meeting not only with a renewed sense of purpose, but with a list of contacts and help from the other leaders in attendance.

NCCF Director of Community Leadership Sally Migliore leading a panel discussion at the affiliate forum.The regional meetings were an initiative of NCCF’s Community Leadership Team held to introduce the Blueprint for Success, a roadmap for affiliates to create localized plans for strategic growth.

The Blueprint provides the framework for leaders like Ray and Wesson to impact community challenges like hunger and is being employed across the state in places like Wilson and Clay counties, where NCCF affiliate leaders also spearhead groundbreaking initiatives.

The Clay County Community Foundation has a board focus on hunger and conducts site visits to local food pantries and other nonprofit grantees working on food insecurity in the area. In Wilson County, affiliate leaders have led a hunger initiative for the past two years with grantmaking focused on local organizations fighting hunger. The board has conducted site visits to multiple grantees, including an agency fundholder that has spearheaded a collaborative program to fight hunger in Wilson County.

Across the state, affiliate leaders are impacting hunger in profound ways by leveraging the tools our local community foundations have to offer.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to see our affiliate leaders utilizing the Blueprint to impact a community issue as important as hunger,” said NCCF Director of Community Leadership Sally Migliore. “I am excited to see how other affiliate boards will harness their passion for the issues affecting their community and be supported by the Foundation’s resources.”

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