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Wilmington, N.C., December 18, 2023 — The New Hanover Community Endowment will deploy more than $53 million in philanthropic support in New Hanover County over the next three years.

The $53 million will be invested in 19 strategic grants in New Hanover County focused on improving the healthcare workforce pipeline, enhancing early childhood education, and addressing health access. The Endowment is also awarding $1.4 million to 14 organizations with one-year, nonrenewable grants that support programs such as elder care, literacy, and youth violence prevention.

This historic grant cycle marks the first time the Endowment has entered multi-year grants. The 2023 grant cycle – which was tied to the Endowment’s 3-year strategic plan – disperses almost three times as much money as the 2022 inaugural Cape Fear Opportunities and Needs grant cycle, which was limited to one-year, nonrenewable grants. The Endowment plans to make additional commitments in 2024 and 2025, said Bill Cameron, NHCE board chair.

“Our goal is transformation, and these grants are our first steps toward achieving it,” Cameron said. “These multi-year partnerships start the journey toward solutions. We will be adding to the $53 million as we get into 2024 and 2025.”

The largest grant is a collaborative effort aimed at addressing the gaps in our healthcare workforce pipeline. Projections from the Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy at the Cecil G. Sheps Center suggest that by 2033, North Carolina could face shortages of around 12,500 registered nurses and 5,000 licensed practical nurses. Other areas could include respiratory therapists and nurse aides.

Cape Fear Community College, New Hanover County Schools, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce have collaborated on a cross-partner solution that bolsters healthcare education and supports initiatives that lead to student success ranging from wrap-around services to recruitment and retention. The grant includes funds for simulated learning programs, standardized exam assistance, and an investment in a high school program for students interested in opportunities in the healthcare field.

These measures are specifically tailored to confront the challenges encountered by aspiring healthcare professionals in Southeastern North Carolina. The primary objective is to not only address these challenges but to significantly increase the number of students admitted into and graduating from nursing programs at Cape Fear Community College and the University of North Carolina Wilmington, with an emphasis on retaining graduates in the region.

“This kind of collaboration is exactly what we hoped would happen during this grant cycle,” said William Buster, president and CEO of the New Hanover Community Endowment. “Collaboration between our academic institutions and nonprofit community is indicative of the ways partnerships can lead to solutions where all can thrive. We plan to continue to invest in collaborations like this across sectors.”

The Endowment received more than 200 applications in 2023 requesting $336 million dollars in support. The Endowment views each one – funded and unfunded – as an introduction to a future partnership.

“We received some impressive ideas,” Buster said. “I am optimistic that our community will build on the great work we’re already doing to meet our challenges.”


The New Hanover Community Endowment was established from the sale of the County-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health in 2020. From its sale, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners invested nearly $1.3 billion to form the endowment to benefit the community.

Media Contact:
Kevin Maurer
(910) 903-7995 (o)
(910) 322-4924 (m)

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