Forward Fund established to support transition efforts following paper mill closure

Press release from the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina:

(July 28, 2023) The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) has established a charitable fund to support nonprofit organizations and municipalities impacted by the Pactiv Evergreen closure in Canton.

“We have been working with Haywood County, the Town of Canton, regional funders and many deeply engaged stakeholders to take this step,” said CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas. “Our expectations are that donations received will be used to support economic recovery and transition. Some shorter-term and immediate needs are already being addressed through other philanthropic investments.”

In May, CFWNC awarded $150,000 to the Town of Canton to underwrite a full-time Recovery Officer who will assist the Town Manager’s office with work related to the Mill closure and economic revitalization. Earlier this month, Dogwood Health Trust announced a $1 million grant to the United Way of Haywood County to support the Canton Mill Closure Emergency Response Project. Dogwood’s funding will provide financial assistance to individuals directly affected by the closure.

“I am moved by how many people have reached out proactively to help and am struck by the level of partnership,” said Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers. “The impact of this closure is felt far beyond Canton and Haywood County. This is not a partisan issue; it’s a community issue. The closing has created difficult situations for so many, but it opens the opportunity for us to plan together for a healthy future and shared prosperity. CFWNC’s Forward Fund provides yet another tool for continued collaboration.”

CFWNC Senior Program Officer Tara Scholtz will manage grants from the Forward Fund. It will provide proactive grants that enable nonprofit organizations and municipalities to plan, coordinate and increase capacity for collaborative economic-recovery programs and projects.

CFWNC works with families, businesses and nonprofits to strengthen communities through the creation of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking. A permanent charitable resource, the Foundation manages over 1,200 funds and facilitated $34 million in grants last year bringing total giving to more than $362 million since its founding in 1978. Learn more at

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