Focus Area Grants of $156,800 Awarded

(March 2021) The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC) recently approved grants totaling $156,800 to nonprofits across the region. The awards were made in CFWNC’s Early Childhood Development, Food and Farming, and Natural and Cultural Resources focus areas.

“The WNC region, like the rest of the country, remains deeply affected by the pandemic,” said CFWNC Vice President for Programs Philip Belcher. “These grants supporting children, our regional food system and important cultural projects offer immediate as well as longer term benefits to communities. Often, CFWNC can award matching funds that are difficult for nonprofits to raise but leverage larger sums from other funders. We are grateful to these nonprofits for their work and vision and to the fundholders who partner with us to support their efforts.”

An Early Childhood Development grant of $28,800 was awarded to Irene Wortham Center for the Early Learning Center’s Asheville Farmstead Garden Project that will supplement the existing curriculum. Since its 1971 opening, the Early Learning Center has focused on individualized care and low teacher-to-student ratios and has established a proven track record of helping disadvantaged children develop strong foundations, meet and exceed educational and developmental benchmarks, and graduate ready to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Terrence Lee One Love Fund, Peterson Endowment Fund and an anonymous fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Food and Farming grants total $91,000 and include:

$41,000 to Macon County Public Health/MountainWise to continue the Double Up Food Bucks Program (DUFB) in Buncombe, Jackson, Haywood, Transylvania, Madison and Rutherford counties. DUFB is a national model, supported by the Fair Food Network and largely funded by the USDA, that provides a $1:$1 match for SNAP/EBT customers to spend on fresh, frozen, and canned fruits and vegetables. The effort involves regional retailers, farms and farmers markets and leverages significant federal dollars. The Oliver Family Fund and Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund provided co-investment for this grant.

$20,000 to Organic Growers School on behalf of the WNC Food Justice Planning Initiative to fund the second phase of the collaborative regional effort to create a thriving and resilient local food system in WNC. The initiative’s first phase resulted in the creation of a Regional Strategic Action Plan. More than three dozen organizational participants identified seven regional strategies that will guide implementation in the second phase. CFWNC funds will support the development, coordination and execution of the effort. The Bahnson-Armitage Fund provided co-investment for this grant.

$30,000 to The Utopian Seed Project (USP) that seeks to develop a regional seed hub to support, encourage and celebrate a diverse food system of regionally-adapted crops. USP focuses on supporting and developing a sustainable regional food and farming system, including food access, climate change resilience and inclusiveness, by preserving and promoting varietal diversity in traditional southern crops, experimenting with growing tropical perennials as temperate annuals and exploring underutilized perennial food crops, many of which are native to the region. The Terrence Lee One Love Fund and Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Natural and Cultural Resources grants total $37,000 and include:

$20,000 to Conserving Carolina for the Ecusta Trail Corridor Acquisition. Grants funds will support the purchase, transaction, due diligence, and project management expenses associated with acquiring a 19-mile abandoned railway. Acquisition of the property is the first step toward establishing the Ecusta Trail, envisioned as a mixed-use greenway for walking, hiking and biking that will connect Hendersonville and Brevard. Current projections suggest that, once the trail is complete, it will have at least a $42 million return resulting from direct and indirect expenditures for materials and labor costs during construction and initial property value increases. Co-investment from the WNC Resolve Fund, Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, Riley Howell Foundation Fund and an anonymous fund completely funded this grant.

$17,000 to John C. Campbell Folk School to hire a Collections and Archives Manager to assess and catalog the Folk School's current collection and to begin acquisition of artists’ work and historical artifacts for use in the School's arts and culture education and outreach efforts – both on and off campus – and in production of a significant centennial event in 2025. Grant funds will also support significant pandemic-driven operational changes necessary on the 290-acre campus to keep students, visitors and staff safe and healthy. The Gretchen Batra Fund provided co-investment for this grant.