ZSRF: Community Progress Fund

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

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Predicted Deadline
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Next predicted deadline: Dec 6, 2023 9:00am PST (Letter of inquiry)

Later predicted deadlines: Dec 6, 2024 9:00am PST (Letter of inquiry)

Grant amount: US $20,000 - US $60,000

Fields of work: Community Services Community Development & Revitalization

Applicant type: Government Entity, Nonprofit

Funding uses: Project / Program

Location of project: North Carolina

Location of residency: United States

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NOTE: Please note that submitting a Letter of Intent is the preliminary step in introducing a proposal to ZSR. Therefore, it is not necessary to contact a ZSR staff member.

What is the definition of a Community Progress Fund?

The term is inclusive of moving an issue OR an organization forward in order to test an idea OR achieve greater impact. The projects need to demonstrate that there is already some level of momentum that an infusion of funds can help accelerate, test or grow.

Community Progress Fund

Sometimes, a local organization, idea, issue or project needs that extra boost at just the right time to continue to make progress toward an end goal. The Community Progress Fund is designed to provide an infusion of short-term funding at the right moment and is intended to build on existing momentum to help move an issue, an idea or an organization forward.

The Progress Fund allows communities to test ideas, expand promising efforts, or achieve greater impact. ZSR hopes that engaging with community members through the Progress Fund grant cycle will allow the Foundation to support communities and to better understand how different communities experience change, opportunity, and challenges in unique ways. Thus, the parameters for this approach are intentionally broad. In addition, ZSR desires to be accessible to areas of the state that have relatively higher needs and fewer resources. Consequently, preference will be given to those areas of the state.

Community Progress Fund Criteria

  • Proposals must demonstrate that there is existing momentum within the community.
  • Proposals must demonstrate how, with an infusion of funds, they will move an issue OR an organization forward in order to test an idea OR achieve greater impact.
  • ZSR awards Community Progress Fund grants once per year.
  • Grant amounts range from $20,000-$30,000 per year for one or two years. 
  • ZSR gives preference to areas of the state with limited philanthropic resources.
  • ZSR will review applications and contact select applicants who will move to the next phase of the process, which includes ZSR staff scheduling visits in these communities, or virtually if necessary.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • 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.


  • Our goal is to award a significant portion of grants to organizations that are run by and primarily serve people of color; therefore, ZSR strongly encourages applications from these organizations.


  • With RARE exception, the Foundation would not make Community Progress Fund grants for the purposes listed below.
    • Athletic events or teams
    • Stand-alone, one-time or annual conferences, seminars, or symposiums 
    • Curriculum development
    • Emergency medical service organizations
    • Endowment funds
    • Equipment or furniture purchases
    • Fundraising events
    • Initiatives promoting religious education or doctrine
    • Land easements 
    • Medical research
    • Operating expenses for schools
    • Payments of debts
    • Private business ventures
    • Private or charter K-12 schools
    • Scholarships
    • Summer camps
    • Volunteer fire departments 

*The Foundation is legally prohibited from funding voter registration.

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This page was last reviewed November 28, 2023 and last updated October 27, 2023