The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust will no longer invest in tobacco. The change was announced Tuesday at an event in Forsyth County to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
In 1947, Kate B. Reynolds left $5 million in RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company stock with instructions to establish a trust in her name dedicated to improving the quality of life for low-income people in Forsyth County. and improving health care across the state. This mission is still valid today, but the way it will be funded is changing. The trust completely divests tobacco.
Wells Fargo, its administrator, is taking steps to exclude tobacco companies from the range of companies it invests in and will work to eliminate direct exposure to tobacco companies by the end of this year. The company also announced that it would take $100 million from the portfolio and ensure that it invests in North Carolina businesses and businesses that hire people in the state.
Laura Gerald is President of the Trust. She says tobacco is associated with health risks and they want to be responsible for their mission.
“We had to right that wrong and correct that hypocrisy really,” she says.
Gerald says the trust is also revising its grantmaking approach. She says they will continue to focus on strategies and initiatives that focus on racial equity and serve marginalized communities.
Today, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust is worth around $575 million. Each year, it awards about $20 million in grants to state organizations that serve its mission.