Melvin R. Lane Fund

The SPARC Foundation was awarded $180,000 over three years to hire an operations manager. Lane Advisory Board Members Yolanda Bopp and Shelley Brown with The SPARC Foundation's Jackie Latek, Leasha Ogle and Veronica Edwards; photo courtesy of CFWNC

The mission of the Melvin R. Lane Fund is to increase the capacity of organizations that provide supportive services for people in need, youth, the elderly and mentally and/or physically disabled people. Capacity building addresses a nonprofit’s ability to achieve its mission effectively now and in the future through projects designed to improve communications, volunteer recruitment, development, outcomes, collaborations, and technology.

This program may award five to seven Capacity Building grants of $90,000 to $180,000 over three years ($30,000 to $60,000 per year) to help human service organizations improve their operations, become more collaborative and secure their future for the betterment of Western North Carolina's disadvantaged citizens. Organizations should request an amount that is relative to and appropriate for their operating budget.

Grantees may be required to attend one or two convening sessions each year of their grant and participate in evaluation that may extend beyond their three-year grant.

Deadlines and Dates

Letters of Intent are due January 8, 2025.


  • Nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and have been operating for at least three years are eligible to apply.
  • The organization must have two or more full-time employees and an operating budget exceeding $100,000.
  • Organizations must be located in one of these WNC counties: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania and Yancey.
  • An eligible organization may only submit one application per cycle.

What We Do Not Fund

Grants generally do not support: operating expenses (except for costs that are directly related to the project), capital support (except where modest requests can immediately and significantly increase an organization's capacity and effectiveness), activities taking place before grant decisions are made, sectarian religious purposes, partisan political purposes, veterans affairs, deficit funding, or debt retirement.

How to Apply

Please note: If your organization is chosen as a finalist, your organization will be required to complete an assessment that involves a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of board time in addition to 12 to 15 hours for the board chair and executive director. Please do not apply if your organization is not ready for this commitment.

1. Access Community Foundation Staff Assistance

If you would like to discuss your proposal or have questions regarding eligibility, contact Virginia Dollar, Senior Program Officer, by email or at 828-367-9907. It is suggested that first time applicants review their proposal with Virginia prior to submitting a Letter of Intent.

2. Submit a Letter of Intent

Begin the online application process to submit a Letter of Intent. For technical assistance with the online grant system, please contact Diane Crisp, Senior Grants Manager, by email or at 828-367-9904. The online system notifies applicants by email upon receipt of their Letter of Intent.

3. Invitation to Submit Full Application and Grant Workshop

Applicants will be notified whether they are invited to submit a full application by early January. Ten to twelve finalists will be selected to move to the next round of review. Those chosen as finalists should plan to have both a staff and board representative attend a full application workshop to be held in January.

4. Complete an Organizational Assessment

To ensure that the grant-funded project will be targeted and effective, finalist organizations are required to complete an Organizational Assessment provided by WNC Nonprofit Pathways (organizations that have completed an organizational assessment within the prior 12 months may be exempted). The assessment is a process for identifying strengths, challenges, and priorities for improvement that involves a minimum of 6 to 8 hours of board time in addition to 12 to 15 hours for the board chair and executive director. The assessment, which is funded by the Melvin R. Lane Fund, must be completed between January and April.

5. Submit a Full Application

Based upon learnings from the Organizational Assessment, applicants will define their project objectives. Completed online applications are to be submitted on a date TBD.

6. Site Visits and Presentation

Site visits by members of the Melvin R. Lane Fund advisory committee will be conducted during May and June. Finalists are required to give short presentations in June. Funding decisions will be announced in July.

CFWNC distributes grant payments by electronic funds transfer (EFT). Each grantee must have current banking information on file at CFWNC to receive payment.

Reporting Requirements

Applicants must submit an online end-of-grant report verifying use of grant funds and results. Instructions will be included in the grant award letter sent by email to the head of the awarded organization, and report deadlines can be found in CFWNC’s online grant system. We may also require additional reports or site visits.

Guideline Modifications

The Fund’s advisory committee 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.

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