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Reynolds American Foundation Supports Project Impact


The Reynolds American Foundation is a lead sponsor for Project Impact, a new educational initiative that will provide additional operating funds to Winston‐Salem/Forsyth County schools to address critical student achievement gaps.

The initiative’s goal is to improve third‐grade reading and math proficiency scores using strategies proven successful in other school districts. Project Impact will fund pre‐K expansion, extended learning options and expanded staff development and instructional support.

Schools face ever-growing demands

Project Impact evolved from discussions among education, community and business leaders. In its early stages, the initiative already has commitments of about $22 million toward its goal of raising $45 million for the school system over six years.

Project Impact was announced on May 4 at The Winston‐Salem Foundation’s annual Community Luncheon by Brice O’Brien, RAI’s executive vice president of public affairs. He said, “We believe our local school system does a heroic job with the resources they have – in the face of ever‐growing demands. But they need additional resources to accelerate progress.”

O’Brien noted that a significant percentage of the community’s students are economically disadvantaged – which means they are at far greater risk of failing not only in school, but also in the years beyond. “The odds are stacked against many local children before they ever walk in the door of kindergarten, and later in life,” he said.

‘We can change these odds’

“But we can change these odds,” said O’Brien. “Additional resources for our schools will help put disadvantaged children on a path to success. Education is pivotal to helping these children find their way out of poverty.”

The Reynolds American Foundation is making its largest grant ever to Project Impact over the next six years. “We see schools as a key component of economic development,” said Andrew Gilchrist, RAI’s chief financial officer and executive vice president.

He added, “This is an opportunity where the business community can help with a vital local issue. Project Impact complements other local initiatives – which together, will help this community’s children reach their full potential in school and in life.”

Vision ignites community partnership

An Advisory Board has been created to monitor and evaluate success throughout the project, which will fund programs starting in the 2016‐17 school year.

“We’re off to a terrific start,” said O’Brien. “We have a compelling vision, leaders who’ve stepped up to be stewards of this vision, and a partnership ignited across the community.”

The $22 million committed thus far to Project Impact include pledges from lead sponsors and donors, including local employers and their foundations, The Winston‐Salem Foundation, and individuals. 

For more information visit Project Impact’s website to learn more or to make a contribution: www.ProjectImpact.WS