Photo: The SOAR Collective makes its first grant to Equity Before Birth at their 2-year anniversary celebration.
North Carolina’s Triangle region is booming with social innovators working to improve the community. RDU, short for Raleigh, Durham, and surrounding towns and cities in North Carolina, makes up the Triangle area. Nonprofits in RDU account for about 10% of the area’s employment, as well as local economic spending of $17 billion per year. These nonprofits serve the communities in areas ranging from arts and culture to affordable housing, education to child care, and spiritual development to job training.
The North Carolina Center for Nonprofits highlights nonprofit leaders, especially those who identify as BIPOC, as “experts at managing personnel issues, maximizing revenue streams, offering competitive employee benefits, keeping up with the latest technology trends, and ensuring customer satisfaction.” When these exemplary leaders give their talents to mission-based work and community improvements, their results speak for themselves in terms of exponential impact. Yet national trends continue to show that organizations led by people of color are awarded grants less often than their white counterparts and in smaller amounts.
It’s no wonder that there are several several collective giving groups in the Triangle who are committed to addressing the funding gap that exists and supporting the work of organizations just like the 20 listed below, including: The SOAR Collective, GivingTuesday RDU, 20/20 Sisters of Vision, and many more. To find a group near you, check out the Global Giving Circle Directory.
20 Triangle-Area BIPOC-Led Nonprofits Leading the Way in North Carolina
African American Heritage and Culture
Founded by a group of community leaders in 2018, African American Heritage and Culture is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to amplifying and celebrating African American heritage and culture in the Raleigh-Durham community. Through programs and offerings like the Oral History Library, music performances and seminars, art exhibits, heritage celebrations, and more, AAHC preserves and educates the community about the historical impact of African American culture.
Learn more: African American Heritage and Culture
AMI Kids offers troubled youth the support they need to become great people. With more than 150,000 youth served since AMI Kids’ founding in 1969, this organization works with at-risk youth and their families to find new avenues for personal growth. AMI Kids is dedicated to helping troubled kids realize and achieve their potential, strengthen their community, and have a lasting impact on generations to come.
Learn more: AMI Kids
Located in downtown Raleigh, Artspace serves as a hub for creativity and social practice with its art studio, multiple galleries and education facilities for all ages and abilities. Artspace is committed to fostering a vibrant and healthy community through learning, inspiration, and collaboration. In addition to partnering with more than 35 studio artists working in a variety of media from around the world, Artspace’s doors are open to the public.
Learn more: Artspace
The Bridge International
By “bridging the gaps,” The Bridge International seeks to empower and support all survivors of human trafficking. This organization makes this possible by connecting underserved communities with local services, as well as raising community awareness of human trafficking and its risks and effects. Through outreach to migrant farmers and other at-risk groups, direct services for survivors of human trafficking, and partnerships with local businesses and agencies to raise community awareness, The Bridge International fights back against human trafficking in North Carolina.
Learn more: The Bridge International
Communities in Partnership
Formed in 2011 in response to a neighborhood shooting in Old East Durham, Communities in Partnership (CIP) has grown to give voice to local residents and hold officials and agencies accountable. In recent years, CIP has been building trust and relationships amongst residents, developing local leaders, and changing the narrative about their community. Their work has recently expanded to address growing economic disparities in light of local gentrification, the rising cost of living, and the impact of COVID-19.
Learn more: Communities in Partnership
Compass Center for Women and Families
Compass Center helps all people navigate their journey to self-sufficiency, safety, and health. Through career and financial education, domestic violence crisis and prevention programs, legal resource assistance, and youth health programs, Compass Center seeks to create a safe and equitable society in which all individuals and families thrive. In addition to their support groups, emergency housing, and crisis counseling programs, Compass Center also offers a 24-hour crisis hotline at 919-929-7122.
Learn more: Compass Center for Women and Families
Formed as a merger between the Helius Foundation and Audacity Labs, ECHO uses a multi-generational, long-term approach to help established and prospective entrepreneurs learn the basics of business. This includes building strategic plans with the help of community mentors, as well as finding community-sourced funding to create thriving, self-sustaining businesses. ECHO’s offerings include youth programs, business plan building, and coached fellowships, among other community-facing programs.
Learn more: ECHO
Equity Before Birth
Equity Before Birth (EBB) fuses economic and birth justice to save lives. Their sponsorships, fundraising programs, and partnerships with BIPOC-led organizations in the Raleigh-Durham area provide critical direct services to mothers, families, and community members. Built on the idea of empowering mothers and families, EBB aims to save the lives of Black and Brown birthing people by increasing access to critical services and support.
Learn more: Equity Before Birth
The Gifted Arts
The Gifted Arts is a youth elevation and performing arts organization that uplifts and artistically trains young people, within a culture that values identity, purpose, leadership and embodies confidence and excellence. Through culturally responsible artistic experiences, The Gifted Arts plays an integral role in helping young people establish health behaviors. Their commitment to eliminating racial inequalities in the arts and dismantling systems of oppression can be seen in their youth art programs, community engagement opportunities, and other community events.
Learn more: The Gifted Arts
The Great Raleigh Cleanup
On a mission to ensure litter-free neighborhoods for all, The Great Raleigh Cleanup connects volunteers with local cleanup events in Raleigh, North Carolina. With more than 130 events, 700 volunteers, and 4,600 volunteer hours served, The Great Raleigh Cleanup has removed 83,504 pounds of litter from the Raleigh area as of January 2023. As the organization puts it, “Regardless of your income level, what you look like, or how big your house is, everyone [should] be able to come home to a neighborhood that is free of litter!”
Learn more: The Great Raleigh Cleanup
Grow Your World
Grow Your World is an organization that supports young people’s social and emotional wellbeing, preparing them to launch no matter where they are in the world. Their mentorship, tutoring, and arts-based programs connect youth with their larger community, allowing for peer connections and direct support that kids would not find in their day-to-day lives. These programs increase confidence, personal and academic growth, school performance, and responsibility for youth, giving them a meaningful network as they take on life’s challenges.
Learn more: Grow Your World
H.E.A.R.T.S. (Helping Each Adolescent Reach Their Spark)
H.E.A.R.T.S. educates adolescent parents and equips them with skills and tools needed to become independent and self-sufficient. In addition to direct service support through 1-1 and group coaching sessions, H.E.A.R.T.S. offers emergency support services and creative learning experiences.
Learn more: H.E.A.R.T.S.
Mobilizing African American Mothers through Empowerment (MAAME), Inc. empowers Black, Indigenous, and other people of color to navigate systems and offer resources, services, and support for holistic maternal health care and economic advancement. In addition to traditional birth and postpartum support, MAAME also offers full-spectrum doula services up to 18 months, as well as classes on childbirth education and maternal mental health and wellness.
Learn more: MAAME, Inc.
No Barriers seeks to connect those with prior convictions to job opportunities, housing, healthcare, family reunification, and other critical life-affirming programs in the Raleigh-Durham area. Their programs are built on the belief that a person’s past should not hinder their future success nor condemn them to a life of stigma and adversity. No Barriers is made up of a community of volunteers, service providers, creators, and local leaders who offer these critical services to people in need.
Learn more: No Barriers
So Good Pupusas
Calling themselves “a taste of El Salvador with a side of social justice,” this food truck supports nonprofit partner Pupusas for Education (P4E) which provides last-dollar scholarships to undocumented and DACAmented students regardless of background, ethnicity, race, or other protected categories. So Good Pupusas is a food truck and catering company that uses its profits to support P4E and provide culinary education opportunities to youth in Durham.
Learn more: So Good Pupusas
Stand Up, Speak Out
Stand Up, Speak Out of North Carolina (SUSO NC) continues the fight to end sexual assault and domestic violence through advocacy, prevention training, group therapy, mentoring and a fundamental concept for survivors called Healing Thru Art. In response to COVID-19, SUSO NC utilized Wake County’s new Community Innovation Grant to provide art intervention and summer camps for youth, as well as therapeutic art intervention for the larger community that increases awareness of self-worth while learning creative methods to manage symptom-related stress that results from traumatic experiences.
Learn more: Stand Up, Speak Out
StepUp Durham provides employment training and opportunities for members of the Durham and Raleigh communities facing challenges such as criminal backgrounds, racial inequality, histories of drug abuse, domestic violence, and/or homelessness.
Learn more: StepUp Durham
Designed to challenge youth to be in control of their destinies by obtaining and using critical thinking skills, Triangle Bikeworks uses the physically and mentally demanding–while still fun!–activities of bike riding to build youth leadership. Their flagship program, Spoke’n Revolutions Youth Development, provides adventures that promote teamwork, strengthens communication, deepens interpersonal responsibility and compassion, and heightens sensitivity to the natural environment.
Learn more: Triangle Bikeworks
Triangle Empowerment Center
This nonprofit community-based organization serves Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and surrounding neighborhoods through fun social events, educational events, and volunteering opportunities. With no membership fees, initiation, meeting requirements, or cliques, Triangle Empowerment Center seeks to connect local residents of all backgrounds, incomes, and locations with events that allow people to be themselves and have fun.
Learn more: Triangle Empowerment Center
Tried by Fire
Tried by Fire is a nonprofit organization committed to helping women find hope and healing through faith. Their outreach goals include helping women start over post-incarceration; providing a support system for wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, and friends; and providing holistic tools that allow women to focus on personal growth and avoid re-entering the prison population.
Learn more: Tried by Fire
Maggie May is a small business owner, author, and story-centric content strategist within the nonprofit sector. Maggie is the Founder and Executive Director of the agency Get Mighty Creative, as well as a co-founder and the Director of Operations for The Undercard Collective, a giving circle focused on representation in music and the arts. She is a Maryland transplant by way of Florida, Pennsylvania, Ireland, and most recently Salt Lake City, Utah. She has a passion for finding stories and telling them the way they're meant to be told.