The next event is a community gathering on May 5, 2024 to introduce Heal Our People's Endowment to the public. Please join us in shelters 1 & 2 at Empie Park, 3405 Park Ave., Wilmington, NC from 3:30 PM until 5 PM!

Our Petition

As individuals concerned about the well-being of New Hanover County, we are writing to express our grave concerns about recent leadership changes and funding priorities at the New Hanover Community Endowment. Four years ago, our community was promised that the Endowment’s $50+ million in annual grants would be leveraged to improve the health, education, safety, and economic opportunity for every citizen in New Hanover County, and operate with a strict commitment to community participation, transparency, and inclusivity.

Right now, we believe many of these promises are being broken.

Over the past seven months, several concerning events have unfolded:

In September, amidst partisan county commission politics, two respected Endowment board members, Dr. Virginia Adams and Ms.Hannah Gage, up for reappointment as is the tradition, were unexpectedly denied. In their stead, the NH County Commission, in a split decision, appointed two former county commissioners, Mr. Woody White and Ms. Pat Kusek, chief architects of the sale of NHRMC in 2020. Dr. Virginia Adams is a nationally renowned health expert and African-American nurse educator, and removing her resulted in a significant loss of diversity and subject matter expertise on the Endowment board.

In December, the Endowment announced its second annual grant-making cycle totaling $53 million. While it includes many worthwhile initiatives, we are deeply troubled by two aspects:


  1. Over $22 million, or 42% of the total, will directly benefit Novant through nurse/health worker training programs. Such a massive allocation to one sector contravenes the mission to foster transformative change across all the community. There’s no guarantee those trained will even remain in NH County. Given that the local nursing shortage partly stems from Novant's own managerial decisions, and considering Novant's influence over so many Endowment board appointments, this disproportionate expenditure raises serious concerns of a conflict of interest.
  2. Despite an affordable housing and homelessness crisis in our community, the Endowment allocated no funds to address these issues in the grant-making cycle, shocking both the public and local nonprofits.

In February 2024, the sudden departure of Executive Director William Buster, a renowned African-American public foundation administrator of national prominence, without explanation or clear succession plan further indicates a crisis within the Endowment. The public expects transparency and accountability regarding such a significant leadership transition.

This 1.25 billion dollar foundation rightfully belongs to the public. The decision to make the Endowment a private entity was purportedly intended to shield it from political interference, a rationale that has been starkly refuted by recent events. With projections indicating that the Endowment will distribute at least $1.5 billion over the next 25 years, our community, pop. 230,000, deserves accountability and transparency. We are asking you to invoke your statutory authority to ensure

1) Endowment Board members who:


  • Reflect our community’s racial and economic diversity
  • Are free from political influence or allegiance to Novant
  • Are leaders with expertise in public health and safety, education, and economic development
  • A majority of whom are selected by the community at large

2) Endowment investments and grants that:


  • Will receive ongoing oversight by the attorney general’s office
  • Are in line with charitable purposes and the foundation’s formative documents

We implore Attorney General Josh Stein to schedule a public hearing here in New Hanover County at his earliest convenience to address these urgent issues.

Going forward we believe that state statute assigns the Attorney General the duty and authority to ensure that our Endowment functions with independence, transparency, community participation, and charitable purpose.

Over 1000 Signatures!

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