Focus Area Grants totaling $408,113 Awarded

Projects address Early Childhood Development, Food & Farming and Natural & Cultural Resources

(May 2023) CFWNC approved focus area grants totaling $408,113 in Early Childhood Development, Food & Farming, and Natural & Cultural Resources. Co-investors contributed $114,000, or 28%, of the total dollars awarded.

“CFWNC strives to be an effective and creative regional funder,” said President Elizabeth Brazas. “We look for ways to say ‘yes’ and to support initiatives that leverage other resources and build bonds. Many of these nonprofits are frequent collaborators with whom we enjoy long and deep partnerships. We are investing in others for the very first time and welcome the opportunity to learn about their communities, needs and work.”

Early Childhood Development

Region A Partnership for Children (RAPC) received $63,163 to continue and expand its early literacy coordination work to support every young child in Region A’s seven counties in acquiring the early literacy skills necessary to achieve grade level reading by third grade. Funds will ensure early literacy support for 12 partnering pediatric practices through the Smart Start Reach Out and Read program; recruitment and supplies for participation in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library; expansion of the Swain-focused Growing Our Future Through Reading collaboration; distribution of Transition to Kindergarten kits and Sesame Street resource materials; and partnerships with local libraries.

The Mary Beth Allen Charitable Fund, John and Janet Garrett Charitable Fund, Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund and an anonymous fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Food & Farming

McDowell Local Food Advisory Council (LFAC) received $66,500 to purchase a more fuel-efficient vehicle to transport food; to pay contract workers for the season to support an anticipated major influx of locally-grown food this summer; and to fund staff to manage the Marion Tailgate Market and to connect with communities to distribute local food. These efforts will improve the overall food system by putting more locally-grown food into the community for those who are food insecure, people using SNAP benefits to purchase local food for their families, and the larger community.

Organic Growers School (OGS) received $50,000 to implement programming providing WNC farmers with individualized support, comprehensive education and coaching services to enhance farmer success and sustainability. OGS will target journeyperson farmers, defined as farmers in years 3-10 of their farming journey, as well as growers from marginalized communities. OGS Farmer Programs provide a holistic, systems approach to land use and management, ecosystem processes, soil health, production practices, business planning, enterprise development, financial literacy, labor, and marketing centered on the farmer’s quality of life goals.

The Carol Waggle Oliver Fund and an anonymous fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Organic Growers School as fiscal agent for WNC Food Justice Planning Initiative (the “Initiative”) received $54,000 to coordinate and develop the regional Initiative. The Initiative includes more than five dozen organizations, growers, businesses and community groups from across the 18-county region collaborating to build a more sustainable, resilient and equitable food system. The Initiative will focus on nutrition and healthy cooking education, healthy food distribution, community gardens, food waste solutions, and the development of a 501(c)(3) organization to house and continue the work of the Food Justice Planning Initiative involving cross-sector stakeholders across 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary.

The John and Janet Garrett Charitable Fund, Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, Carol Waggle Oliver Fund and an anonymous fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Polk County Government (PCG) received $28,450 to support the management of the Columbus Farmers Market and Columbus Winter Market that operate 50 weeks of the year in Columbus, NC. This project will support farms and farm businesses in Polk County and surrounding counties. PCG’s farmers’ markets provide the community with access to fresh, local produce and farm products as well as local crafts. Funds will support staffing costs, marketing supplies, events that directly promote products sold at the market, and SNAP doubling.

Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) received $50,000 to support sustainable local agriculture at its 140-acre Community Farm in Alexander. Funds will manage and grow its silvopasture pilot project as a regional demonstration site, expand equipment offerings in the value-added kitchen and its new market and retail center, and add staffing to assist SAHC’s Farm Manager with programs and the retail market. Silvopasture is the practice of integrating trees, forage and the grazing of domesticated animals in a mutually beneficial way. Silvopastures produce multiple outputs on the same plot of land, thereby making the land more productive while sequestering 5-10 times more tons of carbon than a traditional, treeless pasture. This is the largest silvopasture project in WNC and the only one located on conservation land.

The Dogwood Charitable Endowment Fund, Oliver Family Fund and two anonymous funds provided co-investment for this grant.

Natural & Cultural Resources

Foothills Conservancy of North Carolina (FCNC) received $31,000 to complete the final pre-construction work necessary to develop the Wolfpen Loop Trail on permanently conserved lands in McDowell County. The Wolfpen Loop project is an approximately 10-mile loop trail located in Bobs Creek State Natural Area and Box Creek Wilderness Area and is part of the Wilderness Gateway State Trail (WGST). WGST is a planned, 170-mile trail system that will link over 55,000 acres of adjoining conservation lands in the South Mountains across Catawba, Burke, McDowell and Rutherford counties. These trails are primarily located in rural areas that have not previously benefitted from trailbased outdoor recreation tourism.

The Trillium Fund, Walnut Fund, John and Janet Garrett Charitable Fund and an anonymous fund provided co-investment for this grant.

Madison County Arts Council (MCAC) received $50,000 to develop final engineering and architectural designs for Phase 2 renovations of the Madison County Arts Center. MCAC is a 35+ year-old nonprofit organization that provides arts education through musical performances (including music of the Appalachian region), supports local artists through gallery and sales events, and hosts the Marshall Welcome Center. Purchased in 2018, this downtown building is the first step toward realizing MCAC’s vision to create an arts and community center. Initial repairs to the building included removal of asbestos, restoration of wood flooring in a multi-level facility, electrical upgrades, and heated offices for staff. This grant will fund planning for Phase 2, which includes making the facility handicapped-accessible through a new entrance and elevator; renovating upper floors for classrooms; constructing a recording and digital-editing studio; enhancing the stage and performance area; and relocating the community FM radio station to the front window of the building.

An anonymous fund provided co-investment for this grant.

The Wilderness Society (TWS) as fiscal agent for the Nantahala-Pisgah Forest Partnership (NPFP) received $15,000 to provide additional facilitation support for the NPFP during the critical first 18 months of implementation of the US Forest Service (USFS) Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest management plan. The goal of this phase is to create specific working groups to address the opportunities of implementation. This reorganization requires extra facilitation and the recruitment of more skilled professionals to create a facilitation team. The primary result is a strong collaborative group working on implementation, while advocating for the values and goals developed during the planning process including sustainable recreation in the right places, forests better prepared for a changing climate, healthy forests that will sequester more carbon, protection of special places, and less conflict on public lands.

The Ecology Wildlife Foundation Fund and an anonymous fund provided co-investment for this grant.

CFWNC works with families, businesses and nonprofits to strengthen communities through the creation of charitable funds and strategic grantmaking. A permanent charitable resource, the Foundation manages over 1,200 funds and facilitated $23.5 million in grants last year bringing total giving to more than $328 million since its founding in 1978.