Asheville’s Racial Justice Coalition receives $300K from Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

Press release from the YWCA of Asheville and WNC:

This week, the North Carolina-based Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation announced the names of the awardees of over $2.5 million in community-based grants in 2019, and YWCA is honored to be named as one of those grantees on behalf of Asheville’s Racial Justice Coalition (RJC). The grant will award the RJC $150,000 per year for two years.

Formed in 2014 in the wake of the Ferguson unrest, Asheville’s Racial Justice Coalition “comes together in commitment to racial equity and to advocate for the rights of people of color with law enforcement through policy change, education, and relationship building.” North Carolina is one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to racial disparities in policing. The Racial Justice Coalition is working collaboratively to eliminate policies and practices that perpetuate racial profiling and the criminalization of people of color, as well as supporting efforts to provide law enforcement with tools and resources to address the role that biases play in their interactions with communities. The RJC hopes to become a national model for best practices and improved police-community relations.

The work of the RJC resulted in new use-of-force and de-escalation training policies codified by the Asheville Police Department in 2016. Moving forward, the RJC will focus on building coalition among those most impacted by racial profiling.

In addition to YWCA, the Racial Justice Coalition includes the ACLU of Western North Carolina, Asheville-Buncombe Branch of the NAACP, Asheville-Buncombe Institute for Parity Achievement, Asheville City Schools Foundation, Building Bridges of Asheville, Carolina Jews for Justice/West, Center for Diversity Education at UNC-Asheville, Children First/Communities in Schools, Christians for a United Community, Coming to the Table, Democracy NC, Green Opportunities, Mountain People’s Assembly, Residents’ Council of Asheville Housing Authority, and Southerners On New Ground (SONG). For more information about the Racial Justice Coalition or the Z. Smith Reynolds Grant, contact RJC Co-Chairs Gerry Leonard at or Carmen Ramos-Kennedy at

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