Focus Area Grants totaling $379,787 Awarded

Angela Farnquist and Elizabeth Brazas with Tiffany Tolbert of the National Trust for Historic Preservation at the Nina Simone home in Polk County.

(September 2019) CFWNC approved six focus area grants totaling $379,787 to support regional projects in Early Childhood Development, Food and Farming and Natural and Cultural Resources as well as $200,000 to expand a matched-savings program at OnTrack Financial Education and Counseling funded through the People in Need focus area.

The Foundation’s focus areas were identified to benefit the region and enable the Foundation to work strategically in specified areas of need. Grants are made through significant staff collaboration with regional nonprofits to identify funding opportunities.

The following grants were approved by the Foundation’s Board on August 28.

OnTrack’s SECURE Matched Savings program was awarded $200,000 over two years to offer approximately 200 low-income people support in establishing emergency savings accounts. Participants contribute $15 to $30 per month to a savings account and are eligible for a match of up to $540, after six months of consecutive savings, for a potential total savings of $720.

CFWNC has supported this effort through a successful pilot project in 2016 and a two-year grant in 2017 that funded expansion into three rural counties. As a result, OnTrack has a strong process for programming and referrals for SECURE. The main qualifier for participation is income: SECURE is available to people with household incomes between 30% and 80% of Area Median Income (AMI); for example, a family of four qualifies if household income is between $25,750 and $53,100.

The Brown Family Fund, Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, Rick and Bridget Eckerd Charitable Fund and an anonymous fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant.

Early Childhood Development - $5,000

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.

Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC) was awarded $5,000 for sponsorship of the Adverse Childhood Experiences Southeastern Summit 2019 taking place in Asheville in November. The conference provides practical tools and strategies for advancing trauma-informed care for participants to take back to their schools, communities, organizations and agencies.

Food and Farming - $69,787

Grants increase opportunities for local farmers and food entrepreneurs that support the sustainability and profitability of WNC farms and address regional food insecurity and nutrition.

McDowell Local Food Advisory Committee was awarded $39,787 to purchase and install a walk-in cooler at the Foothills Food Hub in McDowell County. The cooler will assist in the storage, sale and distribution of locally-produced food. Donated produce destined for a network of hunger relief agencies will also have access. The Yeager-Cole Fund and Peterson Endowment Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy was awarded $30,000 to support sustainable local agriculture at its 135-acre Community Farm in Alexander through its Farmer Incubator Program by hiring a part-time assistant for the Farm Manager, building a high tunnel greenhouse to extend the growing season and adding a walk-in cooler to increase storage. The program serves “advanced beginning” farmers with 3 to 10 years' experience by extending their time to find long-term land tenure, build resilient businesses and thrive in their production models. The Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, WNC Resolve Fund and Riverbend Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant.

Natural and Cultural Resources - $105,000

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.

Green Built Alliance was awarded $25,000 for continued support for the Blue Horizons Project’s community engagement, marketing, education and outreach efforts to transition Asheville and Buncombe County to a cleaner, more affordable and smarter energy future. The next phase will include increased participation in the Energy Wise Home and Energy Wise Business programs, the launch of a commercial energy efficiency campaign to recruit at least three large companies to perform energy audits or efficiency retrofits, and more.

National Trust for Historic Preservation was awarded $35,000 to engage key stakeholders – especially African American churches and organizations, local residents, artists and young people – in envisioning the future of Nina Simone’s Childhood Home in Tryon in Polk County.

The Trust is working in partnership with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, Preservation North Carolina, UNC-Asheville and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission. The goal is to preserve the home so that it can contribute to the cultural and educational vibrancy of the region, honor Simone’s contributions to society and inspire a new generations of artists and activists. The Minigowin Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant.

RiverLink, as fiscal sponsor for the French Broad River Partnership, was awarded $45,000 to engage consultants to create an economic impact study quantifying the value of clean water to the local economy. The study will cover the eight counties of the French Broad River Watershed from its headwaters near Rosman, NC, until it enters Tennessee (Transylvania, Henderson, Buncombe, Madison, Yancey, Haywood, Mitchell and Avery). The partnership is a consortium of more than 70 nonprofits, conservation groups, businesses, community organizations, local governments, and state and federal agencies.