$299,460 in Focus Area Grants Awarded

(June 2016) The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) recently approved eight focus area grants to support regional projects in Early Childhood Development and Natural and Cultural Resources and to combat poverty through Matched Savings Programs at three nonprofits serving low-income people.

Three matched-savings grants were awarded through the People in Need focus area to Blue Ridge Community Action (Burke County), Mountain Projects (Haywood and Jackson counties) and OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling (Buncombe and surrounding counties), totaling $113,460.

"Our fall People in Need grant cycle awards grants totaling more than $1 million to human service programs of all types across the region," said CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas. "These matched-savings grants are a proactive investment in asset building specifically intended to help people exit the cycle of poverty. Matched savings accounts are intended to enhance economic stability for low-income households and deliver financial literacy training. Money saved and matched can be spent on a variety of expenses, including housing, home repair, post-secondary education, transportation, debt reduction and more. We are pleased to work with our nonprofit partners to support this effort." The Foundation's dollars will be used to match participants' savings, provide financial literacy and fund operational costs.

The Foundation's focus areas were identified to benefit the region and enable the Foundation to work strategically and deeply in specified areas. Grants are made through significant staff collaboration with regional nonprofits to identify funding opportunities. The following grants were also approved by the Foundation's Board on May 11.

Early Childhood Development - $131,000

Through grants for evidence-informed programs, community awareness and advocacy in Early Childhood Development, the Foundation seeks to help young children reach their full potential.

The Blue Ridge Partnership for Children was awarded $96,000 over two years to implement the Yancey Early Childhood Initiative (YECI), a collective impact model for addressing early childhood issues in Yancey County. YECI will engage multiple sectors of the community in a process that views those challenges, often seen as intractable barriers to high-quality early childhood experiences, as opportunities for innovation and change. CFWNC funds will support salary, benefits and related program costs for a program manager. The Crutchfield Charitable Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant.

The YWCA of Asheville and WNC received $35,000 to develop and implement a parent-led childcare partnership for Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College students. Student parents will be offered three shifts per week of free childcare in exchange for working one four-hour shift once a week. Parent volunteers will be screened, receive basic childcare training and be exposed to positive parenting and community resiliency techniques. CFWNC funds will help the YWCA with renovation costs, supplies and initial research, marketing and documentation necessary to create a toolkit for replication in other areas of Western North Carolina. The Brown Family Fund and the Oliver Family Fund co-invested in this grant.

Natural and Cultural Resources - $55,000

Grants and capacity building in Natural and Cultural Resources aim to protect and enhance the health of the region's natural systems and support and develop the region's arts-based economy.

Asheville Downtown Association Foundation was awarded $25,000, contingent upon the receipt of other funds and the acceptance of projected costs, for the second phase of its Urban Trail marketing project. The Urban Trail is a walking tour of downtown Asheville highlighting architecture, people and historic events unique to the city. Phase II will develop a mobile-enabled website and a self-guided tour via smartphone. Traditional collateral (maps, brochures, posters) and curricula for elementary school field trips will be developed and distributed throughout the Downtown community and local school systems.

Mainspring Conservation Trust received $30,000 to support continued facilitation for the next phase of Mountain Partners, a collaborative founded during a reconciliation process focused on the Nikwasi Mound in Macon County. Building on success, Mountain Partners expanded its mission to include development, stewardship and building partnerships in the historic corridor from Cherokee to Franklin. The development of the corridor will bring cultural understanding to Town of Franklin and Macon County residents, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and heritage tourists, as well as improve the economy of the region.

The Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund both Natural and Cultural Resources grants.