$59,972 in WNC Community Enhancement Grants Awarded

(July 2024) The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) awarded six WNC Community Enhancement grants totaling $59,972 to support charitable organizations and eligible public agencies engaged in projects in downtowns or commercial corridors that enhance appearance, infrastructure, or the pedestrian experience.

The grants are:

$9,972 to Asheville Poverty Initiative (API) to beautify and improve its garden space and sidewalks and to install a mural at the intersection of Haywood Road and State Street in West Asheville. API plans to improve this highly visible and heavily trafficked space through plants and mulching, paint and public art, educational displays, and the installation of a bike rack. The planned changes will increase the garden's impact, beauty, and access and further integrate the property and the organization's work into the surrounding community.

$10,000 to Cherokee Historical Association (CHA) to beautify and enhance James Myers Park for the benefit of the Cherokee community and visitors to the Cultural District by helping to connect the lower Cultural District Attractions (Qualla Arts and the Museum of the Cherokee People) with the upper cultural attractions (Oconaluftee Indian Village, Mountainside Theatre, and Fire Mountain Trails). CHA plans to add native plants and provide resources for pollinators and other wildlife. The project also includes landscaping, repair of staircases leading to Mountainside Theatre and the parking area, improvements for the biking community, repair or replacement of the existing stone water fountain, and updating signage in and around the park.

$10,000 to City of Brevard for a downtown beautification project, focusing on commissioning artist Scott Nurkin to paint a 15-foot by 20-foot wall mural honoring Loretta Mary Aiken, aka “Moms Mabley,” on a city-owned building in Clemson Plaza. The mural will be part of the North Carolina Musician Murals Trail. Commemorative signage will highlight the project, elaborate on Aiken's legacy, and recognize the artist and sponsors. Clemson Plaza, located in the central business district of Main Street, attracts visitors with its vibrant arts scene, Appalachian culture, and natural beauty. With this project, Clemson Plaza and the mural become a focal point, drawing attention to Brevard’s cultural heritage and demonstrating commitment to diversity and artistic expression.

$10,000 to The Village Green (TVG) to partially fund the removal and reconstruction of a covered picnic shelter on its 2-acre green space lawn and purchase and install a large permanent umbrella structure, a picnic bench, and a sunshade in an exposed area of the Village Play playground. The TVG Board is raising funds to repair necessary equipment, add new elements that fit cohesively with the current design, and make the playground and surrounding area comfortable and accessible to any child or adult regardless of their physical ability. This area is in the main commercial district of Cashiers.

$10,000 to Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) to help fund the installation of infrastructure (dark sky friendly uplighting) and beautify the main greeting area for shoppers and residents with plantings and landscaping in the commercial district of Trade Street in Tryon. Funds will support hiring landscape contractors to stabilize and install plants, shrubs and mulch on the steep, eroded bank bordering the main commercial parking lot and a contractor to install and maintain TDDA-approved and tested lighting strategies for identified iconic public art, buildings and trees.

$10,000 to Valley River Arts Guild (the Guild) to provide and maintain a beautiful welcome center for the arts by enhancing the appearance of its building and grounds and by improving the pedestrian experience in downtown Murphy. Within this historic block stands the old Cherokee County courthouse, the County’s Historical Museum (formerly The Carnegie Library), the region’s oldest bank renovated as a wine shop, historic Harshaw Chapel (originally a Methodist Church), and the historic Episcopal Church of the Messiah. The Guild property once housed the Regal Hotel, built in 1910, which stood until 1978 when the wood structure burned in a fire. The Murphy Art Center is situated directly on the Town Square. The Guild will use grant funds to create a small park with floral planters, benches, and a large metal sculpture created by one of the town’s local artists, install bicycle stands, and beautify its building's community porch area with fresh paint on the columns and windowsills.

CFWNC and Dogwood Health Trust partnered to make WNC Community Enhancement grants available. CFWNC administers the program; Dogwood Health Trust provided the funding for the one-year pilot. The grants are another way to support rural economic development and can help build, rebuild or refresh community spaces that foster connections and economic development. Grants are reviewed and announced quarterly.

To apply, organizations must be tax-exempt and located in the Qualla Boundary or one of the following counties in Western North Carolina: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania or Yancey. Priority will be given to projects located in rural or other under-resourced areas.