Foundation News

Local Foundation of NC Awards First Grants to North Carolina Nonprofits

Local Foundation kicks off its first round of grants.

March 23, 2022

Local Foundation of NC is pleased to announce our first community grant recipients: Ripe for Revival and Chatham Trades. Watch to find out how these North Carolina nonprofits have made exceptional impacts in the communities they serve.

Interested in applying for a grant? The next grant period ends on April 15, 2022.

Find out more about our grants here.


The Local Foundation awards community grants to nonprofits across North Carolina making a difference in their communities. We know that few organizations will change the course of history, but some organizations will absolutely change the course of people's lives. And that describes Chatham Trades, the first of our two inaugural community grant recipients. Chatham Trades is a community rehabilitation program that provides employment and training for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Not only employment and training, but also skill development, social skills, peer skills, and just other skills that allow them to integrate as much as possible within the community. We have many companies that we do packaging and assembly for, so they actually learn how to count, how to assemble, package, seal up boxes. They learn how to work cohesively with their peers.

They learn how to accept supervision, learn about break times, lunchtimes, how to fix their own lunch, just general work skills, but also social skills in their interactions with each other and being respectful of each other. So it's more than just work. It's a total person development. You come here and you spend some time with these consumers and the folks that work here, and you can't help but leave happy and energized by the stuff that they're doing here.

Having an organization like this, for the folks to come to work and just live their lives in a normal way is just like you and I do in our jobs. It is just one of those things where you can't help but be satisfied in watching that. I'm a, I'm a part of something like this, and these people here are so in love with what they do.

It's, to me, it's like one of the most rewarding things I think you could do. Each person has goals, personal goals, as well as work goals. And the hope is that they will achieve those goals and learn more work skills, which allows them to be more productive, which allows them to earn more money and hopefully at some point go out into the community and become employed in the community.

Many people have worked here. Many people stay here for a long period of time. But we do have some successes that are out in the community. We have someone that came to work here with no work history. They did learn work skills here, learn social skills, time management skills, counting money skills, had met their goals here at Chatham Trades and then they were put into a trial work at a national drugstore chain in what's called community integrated employment.

And along with the training they received here and the support of the management of the chain and the job coach have been very successfully employed and currently is an assistant manager at the national drugstore chain. Chatham Trades also contracts with Chatham Transit to provide the transportation for our consumers. The consumers are picked up from their residence and brought to Chatham Trades and then back home at the end of the day. In a way, Chatham Transit Network was born out of agencies like Chatham Trades.

They are required to provide transportation for their clients. We've all got vehicles. We've all got drivers. What if we had one organization that provided the transportation for us? So that way it took that stress off of them and making sure they had the vehicle or the driver. And then when community transportation grants came through, Chatham Transit Network was formed.

Another partnership that we have is with Chatham County with an electronic recycling program. We certainly want to help the clients at Chatham Trades have more work to do that helps with their development and helps Chatham Trades become a stronger organization as well. But again, as I said, they're an integral part of our recycling program, really helps us to have that extra piece in contracting with them, really helps us continue to keep that program going.

Chatham Trades is very proud to be the first and only community service hub in Chatham County. When we were looking at moving into this larger building, we had space to partner with other nonprofits, even though we all have separate missions. We were able to come together and each of us meet our missions through a cooperative working. We have the food pantry, we have the Salvation Army. There's a great need in our rural area for a hub like Chatham Trades and the West Chatham Food Pantry and Salvation Army, and especially the Pathway of Hope Initiative, where we can include families to one-stop shop.

Like if they're in need of food, they can visit the food pantry and they can be referred to the Pathway of Hope program, and then we can refer folks to Chatham Trades for employment. There are probably at least 1,000 pounds of food that go out of this pantry three days a week. So that, that's a lot, that's an awful lot.

We try to supplement what they have. We don't try to provide a complete meal, but what we give out is pretty much a complete meal all the time. It's pretty amazing. That allows our consumers here to have an opportunity to volunteer in the community in-house. They are also able to perform work for pay for those organizations, and that's done in-house.

The goal is to increase our consumer base because we have the size for it, but to also find other partners in the community that we can get together with to meet the needs of our community in a better way, you know? And so that's you know, I think that's the mission of the board. I think that's the mission of the consumers and the employees.

We all want to, we just want to see the place grow and offer more opportunities for more people. We really do love the collaboration here in the county. That is something that I preach for all of our, all of our departments and all the nonprofits. So we try to bring all our nonprofits and all these organizations and help the community together.

We feel that we serve the public the best when we work well together. And that's something that Shawn and the folks at Chatham Trades are demonstrating that every day with that partnership between those organizations. Chatham Trades is very proud to be a recipient of the North Carolina Department of Labor's SHARP Program Award. Sharp stands for the Safety and Health Recognition Program.

Currently, Chatham Trades is the only business in Chatham County to obtain this award, and we're very proud of that, that we've been able to achieve that, given the population that we currently work with. Shawn Poe is the answer to our why this organization operates like it does. Her leadership has brought everyone together the board, the employees, the parents, the consumers.

Everybody has a vision, and it's the vision that that Shawn brings to this organization and that just lives itself out every day. Obviously, it takes everyone to make it work, but you have to have that strong leader that's got the vision, got the mission, and makes it become a part of what you do so you don't have to rehearse it, you don’t have to practice it, it’s just what we do. You know, and I think that's what Shawn brings to the table. Need more money for working hard and other people here. I like my job. I help different people. If they can’t help theyself I help them. I like working here. Me, I like working. Thank you. I love what I do.

Yes, I often say that I like knowing, the satisfaction for me is knowing I made a difference in someone's life. But the real answer is they've made a difference in my life. I just want to say, as the president and on behalf of the board and Chatham Trades, how much we appreciate the Local Foundation of North Carolina for this great opportunity. It's support like that that continues to allow us to expand and grow and meet the needs of our consumers.

I would like to thank the Local Foundation of North Carolina for their generosity in this award and the opportunity that we were given to apply for this award and to be an inaugural recipient. This award will go a long way to serve the people of Chatham County. Local Foundation has also awarded a grant to a second organization during this inaugural grant period. In our state and in many places across the country, there's a notable dichotomy between food waste and food insecurity. It's not easy to bridge that separation and find a solution. But the founders of a North Carolina nonprofit organization called Ripe for Revival have a plan. Ripe for Revival has been awarded an inaugural community grant by the Local Foundation because we recognize the innovative solutions they put in motion to help address food insecurity in North Carolina.

Ripe Revival exists to revive communities through food. And that starts on the farm where we work directly with farmers to provide outlets for 100% of their crops. And then we use practical, creative solutions to take those crops to people's tables through businesses or throughout communities in North Carolina and beyond. We've got an established a network of farmers that we buy from, that we support in our business initiatives.

And now we've got a nonprofit Ripe for Revival, where we're able to kind of make it full circle. It's the arm, it's the boots on the ground that allow us to take these existing relationships, to take our experience that's rooted in agriculture and to be a facilitator along the way. We like to say we're bridging the gap between farm excess and food access.

We take the produce that they have worked so hard to grow, and we provide outlets for 100% of that, making them more operationally efficient, driving more profit back to the farm, and then taking the stress of how they handle their crops off their plate. And it's going to impact a community where they may or may not traditionally have access to fresh and healthy foods, and that makes us feel good about what we're doing. And it sure makes those farmers feel good about what they're doing. Ripe for Revival has been big for us, in moving a lot of the excess produce that we have. Some years we leave as much as 40% in the field, and we leave it because of cosmetic issues when nutritionally there's no issue at all.

If we had to leave, just say 40% of our crop in the field, that's income we can't have to grow and diversify in the different areas. And so working with them, having a home for that crop allows us to not only benefit communities, but allows us to grow different crops to benefit those communities. Farmers are very vulnerable in a lot of different ways and it's very nice to have a, have Ripe for Revival on our on our team and be a part of that team.

Will has a great gift again for selling and finding these organizations in areas of need, and kind of marrying up the need with the supply. And we have the supply, primarily sweetpotatoes. We’re one of the largest sweetpotato shippers in the country. Any produce organization will have excess produce that maybe doesn't look quite as like you want to put on a retail shelf but there's nothing wrong with it.

And Will helps us to move that stuff to organizations and ultimately people that are in need, that could benefit from it. Having local farmers who are, who work so hard but are just so talented and educated at what they do to grow this fresh produce, it takes a lot, but we're so blessed to have a lot of smart, intelligent farmers who are good at what they do on our team so that we can focus on developing the programs for education, developing the programs for distribution and logistics behind it, and leverage their experience, their equipment at times, and their infrastructure to help us succeed.

And that's really important for our programs and our partnerships with organizations like Southern Nash High School or Nash Community College, where we're putting in these community farms and relying heavily on farmers to help us be successful. So it was really exciting to me when Will asked to meet with us to talk about a partnership where we could kind of bring more direct ag into the campus.

I like the part about using part of what we grow in our programs here but using it to benefit his program. We share a common cause in really serving underserved people, students, whatever it might be, and really giving opportunities where opportunities didn't exist before. What I like about Ripe Revival is again, they're working with the full community in North Carolina communities, but they're also looking at the underserved population, which is exactly what we do.

I am excited to see what comes of this. I think there's a lot of great concepts. I do appreciate Ripe Revival. They're going to come in with the expertise and they've got some helping hands that are gonna come help us along the way. I think that's really good. We're really excited about what we can do with the produce here in the programs.

I'm a city council person here in Rocky Mount and Ripe Revival has been one of the producers that has helped us when we were going through the pandemic to get fresh, affordable foods in for the community. There are areas in Rocky Mount that were designated as food deserts. In the eastern part of North Carolina, we have too much land to be a food desert.

Well, as a native North Carolinian, I am sad to say there are more in need than I would like. And in our current economic times, the need seems to be growing even bigger. It's sad, but yet there's hope. And I think the hope comes from organizations like Ripe Revival who recognize the need and reach out to community partners such as the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission and ask for help. We are super excited about our mobile market program through Ripe for Revival, where we've actually gone out and purchased two city transit busses and we are in the process of upfitting those now to become a retail market on wheels, where we can take that to communities that are really food deserts.

And through that market, we're going to have shelving that features beautiful, locally grown produce on it. We're going to have refrigerators and freezers that feature eggs and dairy and meat and other food items that are going to nourish these communities, that are going to give them access to things that they may not have access to currently, where they are. On that bus we've also got a cooking cart where our registered dietitian is going to roll that cart off into the street as these families are walking on and off this bus with fresh produce. She's going to be cooking and showing through educational demonstrations how they can use them and what, you know, allow them to taste food that she's cooking and to show that it can be good and tasty and fun.

So we partner with our communities and meet them where they are. We go into afterschool care or we go to day care centers, schools, and provide programing around fruits and vegetables. So we've done taste tests, cooking demonstrations and overall just lessons to get kids or whatever audience that we're working with at that time, excited about eating healthy foods and incorporating them into their diet.

You know, transforming these busses into food markets, you know, and grocery stores is, is a way of getting affordable food out to communities that are still food deserts. But having people to purchase food at the level that they can purchase it. I think it's an achievable goal to set that we can begin to tackle these problems that exist in a meaningful, lasting, sustainable ways that allow us to create a more equitable food system where no farmer loses any of their crops and every community has food on their tables whenever they need it. And we all live happier, healthier lives. And as we sit around the tables with our families at the holidays eating a healthy meal and having access to food, it really warms my heart and puts a smile on my face to think about the families that are doing the same thing, that are surrounding tables with their loved ones, enjoying a healthy meal and laughing and smiling. And knowing that somewhere along the way Ripe for Revival, our community members, all of our partners, like the Local Foundation, had a hand in the smiles on those kids’ faces and the satisfaction and dignity those parents have for being better able to put food on those tables. Local Foundation, we can't thank you enough for the funding and support of our nonprofit Ripe for Revival and its programs, and we look forward to stewarding those funds in a way that makes you proud and impacts communities across North Carolina.

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