The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) established the Forward Fund to support nonprofit organizations and municipalities impacted by the Pactiv Evergreen closure in Canton. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) has made a lead gift of $500,000.

“For several decades the mill was a symbol of stability for the Canton community, but today many are scrambling to figure out what’s next. With challenges ahead, Blue Cross NC listened to the community and is responding with resources to help with their health and well-being needs,” said Kelly Calabria, SVP of Marketing and Corporate Social Responsibility at Blue Cross NC. “Blue Cross NC remains committed to supporting Haywood County and the other 99 counties we serve. We encourage other companies to join us in supporting this effort.”

“We have been working with Haywood County, the Town of Canton, regional funders and many deeply engaged stakeholders to take this step,” said Elizabeth Brazas. This fund will support the recovery and transition for our community. I hope other companies consider emulating Blue Cross NC’s leadership given the significant impact of the mill closing.”

Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers has said that he is moved by how many people have reached out proactively to help and is grateful for the level of partnership.

In May, CFWNC awarded $150,000 to the Town of Canton to underwrite a full-time Recovery Officer who will assist the Town Manager’s office with work related to the Mill closure and economic revitalization. Earlier this month, Dogwood Health Trust announced a $1 million grant to the United Way of Haywood County to support the Canton Mill Closure Emergency Response Project. This money will provide financial assistance to individuals directly affected by the closure.

CFWNC Senior Program Officer Tara Scholtz will manage grants from the Forward Fund. It will provide proactive grants that enable nonprofit organizations and municipalities to plan, coordinate and increase capacity for collaborative economic-recovery programs and projects.

CFWNC works with families, businesses and nonprofits to strengthen communities through the creation of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking. A permanent charitable resource, the Foundation manages over 1,200 funds and facilitated $34 million in grants last year, bringing total distributions to more than $362 million since its founding in 1978. Learn more at