Asheville Merchants Fund Awards $405,000 in Grants

(July 11, 2017) –The Asheville Merchants Fund has awarded grants to nine Buncombe County nonprofit organizations. A total of $405,000 was awarded for innovative projects designed to strengthen community and stimulate economic growth.

The Asheville Merchants Fund supports projects such as community asset development and entrepreneurship; quality jobs and workforce development, including living wage work and job training; social infrastructure encompassing family success and affordable housing; and youth success in school.

"This year's applicants were extremely strong and innovative, which made the selection process difficult," said Advisory Board Chair Tom Hallmark. "It was also very interesting to see new programs and new twists on others. In total the recipients are a well-rounded group that will provide much-needed help throughout our community."

The recipients are:

Children First/Communities In Schools of Buncombe County received $50,000 to help young people succeed in school through the continuation and expansion of the Student Support Specialist program at Joe P. Eblen Intermediate School. The Specialist develops and implements a comprehensive plan addressing school-wide needs and identifying services for students at high risk of dropping out of school.

KL Training Solutions/dba My Daddy Taught Me That received $50,000 to expand job skills training for young participants by providing internship opportunities with local businesses. Funding will also support existing training programs in the trades, music production, interview skills, resume building, work ethic development and money management.

Literacy Council of Buncombe County received $35,000 to provide reading, writing, spelling and English language tutoring to 280 adult students. Increased literacy skills enable participants to meet goals, such as earning a High School Equivalency, gaining employment or promotion, passing the U.S. Naturalization exam or becoming more involved in their children's education.

Mountain BizWorks received $50,000 to provide microloans and customized business education to a target population of low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs in Asheville. Support will directly help 150 local businesses get the entrepreneurial training and preparation needed to obtain a loan and start or expand their business.

Mountain Housing Opportunities received $50,000 to create a program training affordable housing residents in health care professions. This program will focus on a critical gap between underemployed citizens and the education required for earning a living wage.

United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County received $50,000 to support Homework Diners at Asheville, Enka, Erwin and Owen middle schools. Homework Diners are a key strategy of the United Way's Middle School Success Initiative and the Asheville-Buncombe Middle Grades Network.

W4H Asheville/dba Working Wheels received $40,000 to build internal capacity by investing in tools and equipment for a two-bay garage facility. Grant funds will purchase parts and pay for labor to fully recycle eight donated vehicles for families in need.

Western Carolina Rescue Ministries received $30,000 to fund equipment needs for Abba's House, a program that works with opiate-addicted, pregnant mothers to teach bonding, budget management and life skills.

Center for Agricultural and Food Entrepreneurship received $50,000 to support the continued growth and success of small businesses using the services of WNC Blue Ridge Food Ventures. The project will provide food and cosmetics processing infrastructure and technical assistance to more than thirty businesses and fifty employees located in Buncombe County.

Asheville Merchants Fund grants are awarded every two years.