NC Rural Center and its subsidiaries, Thread Capital and CornerSquare Community Capital, joined the 80+ companies and organizations that have signed on to A Better Wake’s pledge and made a commitment to dismantle systemic racism in Wake County.*
A Better Wake started with a collection of leaders from a diverse cross-section of organizations – all with the desire to address racism and dismantle any systems that negatively impact black and brown residents. Participating companies and organizations believe that this renewed energy for change is more than a moment, but rather a movement, and make a collective commitment that includes actions like striving for diversity at all levels throughout their company, identify and eradicate any policies that perpetuate racism, use their platform and collective voice to advocate for anti-racist efforts, and more.
“We do not think of diversity, equity, and inclusion as a destination, but rather a lifelong journey and continuous process rooted in education and action,” said Patrick Woodie, NC Rural Center president. “Our next steps are to further operationalize our internal and external efforts and develop systems of measurements and impact to ensure we are accountable, and this commitment is part and parcel of that.”
The NC Rural Center has included education and action around equity throughout its 35 year history, and over the past few years has made a stronger commitment to more intentionally doing this work, establishing an Equity Leadership Team in 2019, and in 2021, a DEI working group of board members and engaged consultants to help them understand where they fall short and identify a path with clear actions they can take toward becoming a more equitable organization. In 2021, the Center also adopted new core values that included DEI as a foundational piece of their work. Additionally, they have updated their program offerings to include education and resources around DEI, including the addition of modules around the economic impact of racial inequity in their leadership development training programs. A full statement on the Center’s historical and current investment in DEI work and transparency in action can be found here.
Thread Capital and CornerSquare Community Capital were both created with the desire to address and dismantle inequities in access to commercial capital for entrepreneurs, with Thread’s mission including including their specific focus on small businesses that are owned by people of color, women, low-income individuals, and rural-based individuals, and CornerSquare’s to serve organizations that have been undercapitalized for decades and lend primarily to women- and minority-owned businesses, low-to-moderate income individuals, and individuals in low-to-moderate income census tracts.
“Through our lending programs, we believe wholeheartedly that anyone who has a viable idea for a business that they want to start or grow, should have the resources they need to thrive,” said Armeer Kenchen, executive director, CornerSquare Community Capital. “By signing on with A Better Wake, we are not only reinforcing our missions to provide access for small-business owners at Thread and CornerSquare, but we are also formally committing to looking at our practices and policies inside our organizations, and making real, sustainable change.”
*While these three organizations serve the entire state of North Carolina and beyond, their offices are located in Wake County.