WNC Community Enhancement

A Funder Collaboration of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and Dogwood Health Trust

WNC Community Enhancement grants will be awarded to qualified charitable organizations or eligible public agencies to fund projects in downtowns or commercial corridors or districts that enhance physical appearance and pedestrian experience. Priority will be given to projects located in rural or other under-resourced areas. Generally, the Foundation will award grants of up to $10,000 for projects not exceeding a total cost of $50,000. The Foundation may make exceptions to these limits at its discretion.

  • Projects should be completed within one year of the award.
  • An eligible organization may only submit one application per year.

Deadlines and Dates

CFWNC will receive and consider applications on a quarterly basis (January 8, March 11, June 10, September 9) until all available funds have been awarded or until the grant program terminates. Grant decisions will be announced in February, April, July, and October.


Organizations must be: (1) tax-exempt organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, public agencies or faith communities; and (2) located in the Qualla Boundary or one of the following counties in Western North Carolina: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania or Yancey.

Project Eligibility

Funded projects will be a “stand-alone” project rather than a small part of a larger and longer-term project. CFWNC anticipates that most approved projects will fall under one of the following broad categories: pedestrian/multi-modal improvements; beautification; infrastructure; or economic activities.

Examples may include:

Pedestrian/Multi-Modal Improvements - pedestrian signals, decorative crosswalk treatments, shade structures, pedestrian refuges/bump-outs, planters, benches, bicycle racks, parklets

Beautifications - paint, plants/landscaping, public art, awnings, power washing, picnic tables, wayfinding signs, flags/banners, educational displays, trash receptacles

Infrastructure - public access (steps/piers/walkways), lighting, permeable pavers, stormwater management

Economic Activities - outdoor markets, food truck parking

What We Do Not Fund

CFWNC will not award WNC Community Enhancement grants for sectarian religious purposes; partisan political purposes; endowment funds; deficit funding; debt retirement; festivals or one-time events such as exhibits, performances, or fundraisers; expenses incurred before grants are awarded; or projects that benefit a single business entity. In addition, CFWNC will not award WNC Community Enhancement grants for schools or for playgrounds other than play areas incorporated into otherwise eligible projects.

How to Apply

1. Access Staff Assistance

If you are interested in applying for a WNC Community Enhancement grant, contact Philip Belcher, Vice President, Programs, by email or at 828-367-9901 to discuss your proposal. If an application is appropriate, he will provide you with a code to access the WNC Community Enhancement grant application in our online system and provide a deadline for submission.

2. Submit a Grant Application

Begin the online application process to submit a grant application. 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 application.

3. Review Process

Foundation staff evaluates grant applications quarterly, taking into consideration the program’s priorities, availability of funds for the stated purpose, applicants’ capabilities and potential benefits to the community.

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. The Foundation may require additional reports or site visits.

Guideline Modifications

CFWNC may modify these guidelines or make exceptions to them at its sole discretion.

For additional information, download Recent Grants.

Return to Grants Directory