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About Us

Our Mission & Vision

Experiment in Self-Reliance is a non-profit agency that was chartered in 1964 and has served the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County community for over 60 years. Our mission is to empower social and economic self-reliance for working low-income and homeless. We are committed to creating a judgement-free zone and treating everyone with respect, all while pursuing our vision of reducing poverty and homelessness in our community. 

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Who We Serve

ESR serves the low-moderate income population of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County. Clients must meet eligibility criteria (income level, housing situation, etc.). We attempt to connect everyone who walks through our door with the resources they need to attain or regain self-reliance. This could be through enrollment in our programs or through referral to another service provider whose programs are more suited to the individual’s needs.

We are a Fair Housing Agency, Equal Opportunity Employer,  Community Action Agency, and a United Way Agency.

Our History

First ESR Location

ESR was chartered in 1964 and has served the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County community for more than 50 years, working to eliminate poverty and homelessness, and help people help themselves. Like its sister Community Action Agencies (CAAs) across the nation, ESR was born out of Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty and the Equal Opportunity Act of 1964. In North Carolina, ESR was one of the original 11 CAAs supported by Governor Terry Sanford’s North Carolina Fund.

ESR’s growth during the 1970s and early ‘80s was assured under the leadership of the legendary community servant Louise Wilson. Its mission was preserved and fostered through the 1980s and early ‘90s by Bob Law.

ESR played a pivotal role in launching such integral local organizations as Head Start, Crisis Control, TransAid, Legal Aide in its early years before transitioning to the Senior, Youth and Emergency Assistance Services of the middle years.

Its efforts under the leadership of Executive Director Twana W. Roebuck aimed to bridge the gaps in 

welfare-to-work, including promoting long-term self-sufficiency for the working poor, housing for working and chronically homeless, first-time homeownership, tax services, vocational and college education, and Hispanic/Latino services. ESR has been here for the community and its families.

We serve hundreds of families in a variety of situations that many of us could conceivably find ourselves in—victims of house fires and domestic violence, those who have encountered a major financial setback due to health care costs, those who have experienced a change in life circumstances such as divorce or death of a family member, and people who are caught up in the endless cycles of generational poverty and chronic homelessness.

As ESR passes its 60th anniversary and looks forward into the next half century, the expectation is that it will continue to lead in community action in Forsyth County, and continue to provide a safety net and a hand up to those in need.

Our Partnerships

As a community leader, ESR collaborates with many community agencies to ensure the growth and enrichment of the community. This helps us ensure that community members can be connected with agencies that are best equipped to provide services for them. Additionally, collaboration limits gaps and overlaps in service that can be wasteful.

Below is a partial list of ESR’s partnerships. Partners marked with an asterisk (*) are agencies with which ESR is currently involved on an ongoing basis. At any given time, ESR is actively seeking community connections through which to serve the community and support our programming.

Fund Sources
  • City of Winston-Salem

  • Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)

  • Department of Labor

  • FEMA

  • Forsyth County

  • Local Banks

  • MDC/EITC Carolinas

  • Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust

  • NC Department of Health & Human Services(OEO)

  • RJ Reynolds/Reynolds American

  • United Way of Forsyth County

  • Winston-Salem Foundation

  • W-S Community & Business Development Dept.

Referral Partners
  • Crisis Control Ministries

  • Goodwill Industries

  • greeNest Of Winston-Salem*

  • Legal Aid of North Carolina

  • Local Faith Community*

  • Rescue Mission

  • Samaritan Ministries

  • The Salvation Army

  • Urban League

Training, Referral Source,
  • American Red Cross

  • Career Connections and Prosperity Center*

  • Department of Commerce

  • Department of Employment Security

  • Forsyth County DSS

  • Forsyth County Health Department

  • Forsyth County Mental Health Department

  • Forsyth Technical Community College*

  • Goodwill Industries*

  • JobLink Career Center*

  • Local Faith Community

  • Lou Baldwin Realty

  • NC Cooperative Extension*

  • Next Step Ministries

  • Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC

  • Salem College*

  • Veteran’s Administration*

  • Wake Forest University*

  • Winston-Salem Housing Authority*

  • Winston-Salem State University*

  • W-S/Forsyth County Homeless Council*

  • Workforce Development Board*

  • Coordinated Intake Center (CIC) *

Forsyth Free Tax Resources/Sites
  • Career Connections and Prosperity Center

  • Goodwill Industries

  • Internal Revenue Service

  • Local Banks

  • Local Libraries

  • Malloy Jordan Heritage Center

  • Mi Casa

  • VITA/EITC Engagement Committee

  • Walnut Cove Senior Center

  • Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind

  • Winston-Salem Transit Authority

IDA Partners/Resources
  • Center for Home Ownership (CHO)

  • Financial Pathways of the Piedmont*

  • Forsyth County Housing Department*

  • Habitat for Humanity

  • IDA Work Group*

  • Local Banks

  • Local Realtors*

  • NC Housing Finance Agency

  • NC IDA Collaborative*

"We believe that every person has the potential to overcome their circumstances and achieve their dreams."

Family Buying Bread

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