Natural and Cultural Heritage Education Grant to develop Roanoke River Underground Railroad Trail

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, November 20, 2018

From Roanoke River Partners

Roanoke River Partners has received a $25,000 grant from the NC GlaxoSmithKline Foundation’s Ribbon of Hope grant program, according to Carol Shields, Executive Director of Roanoke River Partners. Roanoke River Partners will use the gift to implement the Roanoke River Underground Railroad Trail, a natural and cultural heritage education initiative to benefit the five Tier 1 counties of Northampton, Halifax, Martin, Bertie, and Washington in the Roanoke River Region of Northeastern North Carolina, as well as across the state and beyond.

“The Roanoke River Region is a treasure located in our corner of the state— filled with natural wonders and cultural history. This grant will allow us to feature those assets through a self-guided tour and an educational outreach program as well as through on-line networks. It will also allow us to cultivate increased community engagement through local events implemented in cooperation with new and existing partnerships. Through this initiative, we anticipate an increase in knowledge about and access relative to local assets by a more diverse audience. We also anticipate increased community pride among these rural counties where their connections to the river run deep. Roanoke River Partners is pleased to have this support from the North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Ribbon of Hope Foundation,” said Shields.

This project was inspired by the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom site designation of the Roanoke River in 2008 – through which the Roanoke River was recognized as a passageway for freedom seekers prior to the Civil War. In collaboration with state and federal agencies as well as non-government organizations, Roanoke River Partners will bring about increased awareness and knowledge of both the natural assets and the rich cultural heritage of the region— with a particular focus on the river’s Underground Railroad history.

North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is one contributing partner for this initiative and will provide sign space on their informational kiosks at the boat ramps along the lower Roanoke River. This regional signage will be instrumental in the Roanoke River Underground Railroad Trail’s self-guided tour. The US Fish and Wildlife Service at Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge in Windsor is providing ongoing assistance toward project development and outreach, and will be one of several UGRR Network to Freedom Passport Stamp locations in the Roanoke River Region.

Roanoke River Partners, Inc. is a coalition of individuals, businesses, governmental agencies and non-profit organizations, incorporated in 1997, to serve the five North Carolina counties bordering the lower Roanoke River – Halifax, Northampton, Bertie, Martin, and Washington. Our vision is a vibrant region with a healthy, well-preserved environment; a productive, sustainable economy, and a stable population that recognizes, values and protects its history, culture and diversity. Visit Roanoke River Partners at

The North Carolina GlaxoSmithKline Foundation is an independent self-funding 501(c)3 nonprofit organization supporting activities that help meet the educational and health needs of today’s society and future generations. Since its creation in 1986, the foundation has granted $71.8 million to support North Carolina projects and programs that emphasize the understanding and application of health, science and education at all academic and professional levels. Learn more at