What Matters: A Thriving Community

February 13, 2019

On May 1, over 500 of us gathered at What Matters (click here to see photographs) to learn what it will take for everyone in our community to thrive, and how we can build the roadmap to get there, together. We’ve compiled helpful resources from the day, as well as what you can do next, below.

Snapshot: Highlights from What Matters

  • We began the day with four sold-out opening sessions led by issue area experts focused on community-based solutions, green gentrification, inclusive arts, and equity in education. These volunteers inspired us, engaged us, and got us thinking about important needs and gaps in these issue areas – see a list of resources from our program staff on how to engage further below.
  • Our President and CEO, Lori O’Keefe reminded us that it’s important to remember the Iroquois Nation “7th generation” principle that says that in every decision, be it personal, governmental, or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendants seven generations into the future, and not just for the next. She left us thinking about how we can work with the next generation to learn how to adapt and change, how we can give differently, how we can think differently, how we can use the strong foundation that has been given to us to work together towards new solutions to change our region for the future.
  • We heard wise words from our panel from Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative in Boston about how to engage the region’s youth in decision making, about how funders need to change their perspective when grantmaking through resident engagement and long-term strategies, about how collaboration can change a community, and more. To watch the archived live-stream of the main stage discussion, click here.
  • We honored Jim Stewart and Carol Robbins with two philanthropic awards for their dedication to the overall health and leadership in our community, particularly in education and the arts.
  • We laughed with Farad Ali and Lori O’Keefe as they concluded the day, reminding us that it’s about the long-game in this work. They asked us to listen, to involve and seek out people without power as we engage in conversation, and to seek out the Foundation as we do this work together.


If you attended What Matters, please take a moment to complete this brief survey to let us know how the event went for you, and what we can do better next year. Your opinion matters to us!


Our program staff has put together resources in each focus area, coming out of the opening sessions at What Matters. Want to get involved? We suggest you start here.

Inclusive Cultural Arts

Community-Based Solutions

  • Read:
  • Be Active:
    • There is power in storytelling – consider how you are sharing stories of the communities you serve or live in. Learn more about the stories of strength, knowledge, and expertise of residents and institutions in your community and share them. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got a few here.
    • Get involved in your local community – meet your fellow residents, go to a town hall meeting, get involved in nonprofit and government commissions, committees, and boards – and think about ways you can use your collective voices to ensure everyone in your community is thriving.
    • Ensure your organization is empowering initiatives led, empowered, and informed by those most affected by the issue. Speak up if they aren’t!
  • Contact us: Reach out to Ebony West, Programs and Engagement Associate, for more information about community engagement and development at the Foundation.

Green Gentrification

  • Read:
  • Be Active: Become an engaged resident! Check out your city/county’s public meetings calendar or learn more about opportunities to volunteer on a city advisory group.
  • Contact us: Reach out to Sarah Guidi, Program Officer, who would love to talk to you more about environmental issues and how we address them as the Triangle grows and changes.

Equity in Education

Thank You!

Thank you to our presenting sponsor, Wells Fargo.  We are deeply grateful to you for your support of this event and of the community. We are also grateful for the support of the following sponsors: American Underground, Duke Energy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Lenovo, UNC-TV, and WUNC.

Thank you to our host committee, Farad Ali, Perry Colwell, Julia & Frank Daniels, Jr., Christine DeVita, Debbie & Sheldon Fox, Annette & Rick Guirlinger, Alice & George Horton, Fred Hutchison, Mark Kuhn, Beth & Phil Lambert, Prue & Peter Meehan, Pat Nathan & Mervyn Groves, Cathy Pascal & Ron Strom, Elizabeth & Michael Schoenfeld, and E. Jack Walker, Jr.

Thank you to our community builders, Bank of America, Bourke Services, LLC, Duke University Health System, Fifth Third Bank, Hamilton Point Investment Advisors, LLC, Hutchison, PLLC, IBM, KDI Capital Partners, LLC, Kuhn Advisors, Inc., PNC, The Redwoods Group, Schell Bray PLLC, Stewards Fund, and Walker Lambe, PLLC.

Thank you all for your dedication to our community, and for being our partner in this work. For full event details, click here. Stay tuned for next year!