North Carolina Fund

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The North Carolina Fund was a series of experimental programs conceived at the request of North Carolina governor Terry Sanford, who was aided by writer John Ehle. Its director, George Esser, was appointed in 1963. It was created as a non-profit corporation to operate for five years only, with a mandate to create experimental projects in education, health, job training, housing, and community development.

During the summers of 1964 and 1965, the North Carolina Volunteers Program created teams of African-American and white college students to work together and show that communities could be stronger if their members reached across lines of race and class to solve problems of poverty. At the core, its aims were to lessen minority poverty all across North Carolina and to further the cause of civil rights.

Also by example, the North Carolina Fund served as a model and catalyst for such national programs as Head Start, VISTA, and the Community Action movement.

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