Crossnore Announces Grant for Community Work

by Holly Kessler

Crossnore Communities for Children and its Center for Trauma Resilient Communities (CTRC) are pleased to be the recipient of a $4,000,000 ReCast: Resiliency in Communities after Stress and Trauma grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This grant will support a four-year project titled We Heal Together. The project seeks to employ a community-driven resilience framework. The work will mitigate the impact of trauma and violence in the East Winston community. The goal is to tackle the root causes, not just the aftermath of violence. Thus, the We Heal Together initiative promotes resilience and equity by strengthening the work already occurring in the community.

The project also works across systems, agencies, and with community stakeholders to identify new opportunities for support and sustainable change. “We are incredibly grateful to SAMHSA for seeing the need and answering this unique call to provide funding for this community initiative. We Heal Together will help break down the silos that often exist in community work and ensure children and families presenting with significant trauma histories are appropriately and consistently treated and supported at every point of service,” said Brett A. Loftis, JD, Crossnore’s CEO and co-founder of CTRC.

The start of the work

In 2020, CTRC’s work in Forsyth County was funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust (KBR). CTRC’s goal is to help the community embrace the foundation of shared knowledge, language, and understanding. This goal furthered KBR’s goal of reducing the occurrences and impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and the toxic stress often experienced by children and youth in our community.

“We are excited to see the expansion of trauma resiliency work through the “We Heal Together” project,” said Shenell McClurkin Thompson, senior program officer, Local Impact in Forsyth County at the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust. “The Trust is committed to ensuring all children arrive at kindergarten ready to learn, and we know that adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress impact the social and emotional development of children. This proposal demonstrates the possibilities within our community when organizations work collectively for change.” With KBR’s support, CTRC convened, facilitated, and coordinated stakeholders to build capacity in low-income communities with historically marginalized populations. More than 150 community members have attended CTRC’s Engagement Training Series. Additionally, more than 30 champions have completed the Embedding Workshop.

Grant enables creation of community-centered approach

Building upon this initial work, and in collaboration with Action4Equity and Forsyth Futures, the SAMHSA grant will enable We Heal Together to co-create a community-centered approach to addressing and meeting identified needs through community research; enhancing trauma-informed systems; implementation of a comprehensive advocacy and mentoring strategy; improving outreach and interactions; incorporation of  trauma-informed care approaches into services, and evaluation.

“In partnership with Action4Equity and Forsyth Futures, we are igniting a movement to prevent and respond to trauma at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels in Winston-Salem. Community adversity and trauma is best addressed and mitigated through a participatory community-centered approach. As recipients of the SAMHSA ReCAST grant we have the opportunity to engage and activate community-level change, working from a strengths-based lens and harnessing the assets of the community and its residents. We Heal Together provides a pathway to greater resilience, healing, and well-being for all Winston-Salem community members,” said Lina Pasquale, Executive Director of Crossnore’s CTRC and Principal Investigator, We Heal Together. 


Community engagement

As the project begins, Action4Equity and Forsyth Futures will engage 200 community residents and stakeholders in a cultural mapping process. Additional work includes interviews, listening, and feedback forums to inform the content of the Community Needs and Resource Assessment (CNRA). This work will also inform Community Strategic Plan (CSP). This work will begin by October 1, 2023.

Kellie Easton, President and CEO of Action4 Equity, stated, “In solidarity with our valued partners at Crossnore, CTRC, and Forsyth Futures, we are forging a path to deliver a just system that no longer will perpetuate inequity. Through We Heal Together, we stand firm in our commitment to extend equitable opportunities, amplifying the voices and power of those most affected by harmful systems. By providing them with the tools and platforms they need, we can co-create transformative solutions that will not only confront, but also eradicate the deeply rooted issue of senseless gun violence.  A4E is determined to build a liberated and secure future where all children can flourish, unencumbered by the constraints of systemic trauma.”

WS map photo for grant post

By the completion of this project, it is expected 1,200 East Winston participants will have received We Heal Together services, achieving the following goals: 1) enhanced trauma-informed systems of care through the Trauma Resilient Communities framework, 2) increased engagement of East Winston youth in the Embedded Mentoring Program, 3) increased knowledge of youth mental health risk factors to improve outreach, 4) incorporation of trauma-informed care approaches into youth and family services, and 5) evaluation of the project.