William R. Kenan, Jr.
Charitable Trust
2020 in Review

197 Grants | Over $28.3M Awarded

Aspiring to fulfill its mission to improve lives by helping and educating people, the Trust focused its major grantmaking in 2020 on whole community health, concentrating on the crucial areas of rural health and economic prosperity in underserved and displaced communities.

Grants awarded in the area of Education, both Birth-12 and higher education, also took precedence. Programs for B-12 (children from birth through grade 12) encompassed a large area of support. Higher education funding support included student scholarships, program enhancement for infrastructures and technology, and funding for teachers and professors. Finally, arts and culture; and historic preservation, rounded out the Trust’s portfolio, with several grants serving a dual purpose of art positioned to educate children in underserved communities.

The year 2020 presented new challenges faced by grant partners due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trust strived to provide a ray of light in the face of despair, awarding a number of grants on an emergency basis to support general operating costs and address the evolving needs of their communities during the crisis.

Whole Community Health
$12,649,104 | 45%

Birth – K12
$6,425,000 | 23%

Higher Education
$4,875,000 | 17%

Arts and Culture
$3,870,000 | 13%

Historic Preservation
$525,000 | 2%

Some Grantees in Action

"Give light and people will find the way." —Ella Baker

The darkness that descended upon our country over the past year, from the tragic loss of lives and livelihoods because of the COVID-19 pandemic, to the painful and overdue reckoning of our country’s legacy of racism, to the political and social divisiveness that threatened to undermine our democracy, left many to wonder, where is the light? Yet even in our darkest days, the light of compassion has always been there, even when buried behind the calamitous news that always leads.

One need look no farther than the extraordinary women profiled here to see how brightly the light of hope and empathy can shine. These women lead organizations that are doing critical work for the underserved and disenfranchised, and serve as beacons of what is possible when individuals make a steadfast commitment to service beyond self.

The past year brought into stark relief the fact that we are all connected through our shared humanity, and that to survive and thrive, our common welfare and wellbeing must come first. We are all one step away from adversity and tragedy, and cultivating a deep, authentic understanding of how our fellow human beings arrived at their current state is essential for building a more just and equitable world. The women featured here are “candles of hope” for the communities they serve, and they are also inspiring and empowering others to shine their own light.

The Kenan Trust is privileged to have these women, and the organizations they lead, as our partners. We hope you will be inspired by them and the work they nurture daily.

Shining a Light on 16 Women Leaders

Diana Stanley
The Lord’s Place/Halle Place

The statistics tell a grim story: Women are the fastest growing segment of the incarcerated population, increasing at nearly double the rate of men.

Jamaica Gilmer
The Beautiful Project
North Carolina

Before she became involved with The Beautiful Project, Avery Patterson was already a talented photographer.

Murielle Elizéon
Culture Mill
North Carolina

What happens when professional dancers collaborate with specialists in movement disorders, physical therapy, neuroscience, somatics and people living with Parkinson’s Disease?

Courtney Reid-Eaton
Center for Documentary Studies
North Carolina

Through whose lens do we view the stories that shape our world view? How do we expand that point of view?

Alana Greer &
Meena Jagganath
Community Justice Project

The Miami-based Community Justice Project (CJP) is not your typical legal organization.

Virginia Jacko
Miami Lighthouse

Ali Mandsaurwala was initially hesitant about sending his sight-impaired daughter Naaya to pre-kindergarten at Miami Lighthouse Academy.

Tina Brown
Overtown Youth Center

Dating back to 1896, Overtown was established by laborers hired to build the East Coast railroad and Miami’s hotels and tourist spots.

Deborah Hicks-Rogoff
Partnership for Appalachian Girls' Education
North Carolina

When Deborah Hicks-Rogoff reflects on the girls who have come through the Partnership for Appalachian Girls’ Education (PAGE) program since its inception in 2010, she can’t help but see herself.

Pilar Rocha-Goldberg
El Centro Hispano
North Carolina

El Centro Hispano is a vital lifeline for the growing Hispanic/Latino population in the Triangle Area of North Carolina.

Kemi Ilesanmi
The Laundromat Project
New York

From its new home on Fulton Street in Brooklyn’s Bed-Stuy neighborhood, The Laundromat Project (LP) is commemorating its fifteenth year with the same dexterity, creativity and collaborative spirit that has informed the non-profit’s work from the start.

Sheena Wright
United Way of New York City
New York

As President and CEO of the United Way of NYC, and the first woman to hold the position in the organization’s history, Sheena Wright wields an impressive amount of authority and influence.

Roszalyn Akins
Black Male Working Academy

Roszalyn Akins has been sending out an SOS for decades. But the SOS she proclaims is not a distress call but rather, a call to action: Save Our Sons.

Yvette Gentry
Metro United Way/Campaign for Black Male Achievement

Professionals working in the field of social justice and racial equity rarely have the luxury of sustained time to hone their leadership skills and share their own expertise alongside their peers.

Gerry Roll
Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky

Gerry Roll had been working tirelessly with a nonprofit organization in Perry County, Kentucky, to help members of the Appalachian community access child care, housing and health care.

Claire Blumenson
School Justice Project
District of Columbia

Claire Blumenson and Sarah Comeau began to notice a disturbing pattern while working with young adults in the District of Columbia’s juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Gina Clayton-Johnson
Essie Justice Group

While working with low-income tenants in Harlem, lawyer Gina Clayton-Johnson was struck by how many mothers, wives, partners and grandmothers faced eviction because a family member living with them had been charged with criminal activity.