The Asheville Merchants Fund (AMF) seeks to improve the quality of life in Buncombe County by supporting innovative projects that strengthen the community through economic effects in one or more of its focus areas.
The Fund provides grants of up to $50,000 over two years. Approximately five to eight grants are awarded during each two-year funding cycle. Grants are paid in two installments, with the second year of funding contingent upon reasonable progress toward expected results.
Projects must target economic benefit for Buncombe County residents. Priority will be given to projects comprehensively addressing one or more of the following areas:
Innovative Economic Approaches
- Community asset development: investing in emerging local economies, especially those related to home-grown businesses
- Entrepreneurship: resources for entrepreneurs, including access to training, service providers and capital to accelerate business success
Quality Jobs & Workforce
- Living wage work: recruitment, retention and expansion of businesses providing high-quality, well-paying jobs
- Appropriate skills: training for jobs that are in demand and critical to community viability
- Non-traditional training and employment services: flexible schedules, short-term certificate programs and community-based (versus academic institutional) settings
- Programs contributing to family economic success, including financial education and asset development
- Affordable housing: developing effective strategies and supporting implementation
- Services that increase employees’ ability to participate fully in the workforce, including health and wellness or dependent care
Youth Success in School
- Middle and high school students: targeted academic (particularly in math, science and technology) and non-academic activities related to job skill development
- Family support: improving the home environment for learning
AMF supports organizations that have the capacity and vision to develop multi-faceted programs to help Buncombe County and its citizens thrive in the emerging economic environment. Factors considered in evaluating applications include:
- Focus on a critical need that addresses a gap in existing services
- Defined, measurable results that can be achieved within the grant period and make a long-term difference in the lives of the beneficiaries
- Skilled leadership with the potential to carry out innovative, integrated efforts effectively in one or more of the focus areas
- Demonstrate partnerships that will enhance the potential for project success
Additional Funding Parameters
- New or existing programs are eligible for support.
- Operating expenses may be approved if the application clearly demonstrates how the proposed work is critically important to achieving the goals of the AMF Grant Program in a significant, time-limited way.
- Programs proposed must be carried out within Buncombe County.
- Statewide or national programs will not be considered unless (1) funding is sought solely for the portion of the program that will directly benefit Buncombe County and (2) local people are significantly involved in program development and management.
- Organizations may submit only one funding proposal per grant cycle.
Deadlines and Dates
Letters of Intent are due early 2021 (TBD).
- Semi-finalists selected to complete a full application will be notified by mid-April 2021.
- Full applications from semi-finalists are due May 2021 (TBD).
- Site visits by the AMF Advisory Committee will occur in May and June 2021.
- Final funding decisions will be made and announced by mid-June 2021.
- Funding will be available for program expenses incurred during the grant period, which will begin July 1, 2021, and end no later than June 30, 2023.
Tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and governmental entities are eligible to apply for AMF grants.
What We Do Not Fund
Grants generally do not support: scholarships; sectarian religious purposes; partisan political purposes; endowment funds; deficit funding or debt retirement; capital support for new buildings or major expansions; festivals or one-time events such as exhibits, performances or fundraisers; or activities taking place or expenses incurred before grant funds are awarded.
How to Apply
1. Access Community Foundation Staff Assistance
If you would like to discuss your proposal or have questions regarding eligibility, you are welcome to contact Tara Scholtz, Senior Program Officer, by email or at 828-367-9913.
2. Submit a Letter of Intent
Access the online application process to submit a Letter of Intent. For technical assistance with the online grant system, please contact Diane Crisp, Grants Manager, by email or at 828-367-9904. Applicants will be notified by email upon receipt of their application.
3. Review Process
Applications are screened for completeness, clarity, and compliance with eligibility requirements. Grant proposals are evaluated by the Fund’s Advisory Board, with consideration of the Fund’s priorities, availability of funds for the stated purposes, applicants’ capabilities, and potential benefits to the community.
An online end-of-grant report verifying use of grant funds and results will be required. Instructions will be included in the grant award letter. Additional reports or site visits may also be required.
The Fund’s Advisory Board may modify these guidelines, or make exceptions to them, in consultation with the staff of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.
For additional information, download Recent Grants.