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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Kendrick Mayes and his wife Dr. Anbec DeShield-Mayes own Best Smile Dental in Greensboro, but healthy teeth aren’t their only focus.

“For us, we’ve always been philanthropists, we just have not identified ourselves as philanthropists,” said Kendrick Mayes.

They want a healthy, safe and just community too.

“We understand that in order for change to happen, it requires dollars behind that,” Mayes said. “With the BIG Equity Fund, the dollars that we are raising will go towards really addressing social justice and racial equity issues.”

The couple is part of a growing movement of donors with a variety of backgrounds supporting the Black Investments in Greensboro Equity Fund at the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. 

“We’ve now had over $725,000 in commitments and that’s within just three months–and in the midst of a global pandemic–which lets me know that people are longing for something to bring community together,” said Athan Lindsay, director of community philanthropy at CFGG.

The endowment fund at CFGG’s goal is to improve the education, health and social well-being of the Black community. Rather than putting band-aid solutions on problems, the BIG Equity Fund aims to invest in programs and tools that take a more strategic approach.

“There’s the story where there are these babies, and they’re all coming down a river and they just keep coming down,” Lindsay said. “People are rushing to get the babies out, but someone says, ‘Hey, maybe we need to go upstream and find out why the babies are falling into it.”’

For example, organizations have worked to get laptops and tablets to students who need them in order to learn remotely. This fund could invest in helping caregivers—specifically grandparents—become more computer and internet savvy.

“That’s how we go upstream, by helping them become comfortable,” Lindsay said. “They’re the primary caregivers for children, so you’re going to help enhance the learning experience of the child, but also you enhancing the reality is that coming out of this pandemic.”

The BIG Equity Fund came about through community conversations with the public and partner organizations.

“We really made an intentional effort over the last five or six years to really get deeper with the community and people of color, donors of color and a lot of the zip codes that we don’t necessarily typically talk to,” said Phelps Sprinkle, vice president of development and donor services at CFGG. It wasn’t an intentional effort that we weren’t doing it before. It was just that we weren’t as aware as we needed to be. And that really has made a huge difference in the way the Community Foundation truly is becoming a true community foundation from the donor side.”

As for Mayes, he’s excited to be part of something transformational.

“We know that this fund will be a vehicle for Black families, individuals, and organizations to leave a lasting legacy that will make a difference in the lives of those to come in the city of Greensboro,” said Mayes.

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