The Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust will no longer invest in tobacco. The shift was announced on Tuesday during an event in Forsyth County to celebrate its 75th anniversary.
In 1947, Kate B. Reynolds left $5 million in R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company stock with instructions to establish a trust in her name dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with low incomes in Forsyth County and improving health care around the state. That mission still holds true today, but how it will be funded is changing. The trust is completely divesting from tobacco.
Wells Fargo, its trustee, is taking steps toward excluding tobacco producers from the range of companies invested in and will work to eliminate direct exposure to tobacco companies by the end of this year. The company also announced that they’ll take $100 million dollars of the portfolio and make sure it is investing in North Carolina companies and companies 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 accountable to their mission.
"We had to right this wrong and correct this hypocrisy really," she says.
Gerald says the trust is also revising its grant-making approach. She says they will continue to focus on strategies and initiatives that center on racial equity and serving marginalized communities.
Today, the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust is worth around $575 million. Each year, it awards roughly $20 million in grants to organizations in the state that serve its mission.