Foundation awards $360,000 in grants

Feb 24, 2014
Photo by: Photo courtesy of SAHC Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s Community Farm is located in Alexander and houses an agricultural business incubator for beginning and limited resource farmers.

The Community Foundation recently approved eight focus area grants to support regional projects in food and farming, early childhood development and preserving natural and cultural resources.



The Foundation’s funding priorities were identified in 2011 to benefit the region and enable the Foundation to work strategically and deeply in these areas.  People in Need grants (awarded in November) are competitive; other focus area grants are made proactively and reflect significant staff outreach and collaboration with our region’s nonprofits to identify funding opportunities.

“Stewarding these funds is an honor, and investing them wisely in our region is what generous philanthropists expect of us now and forever,” said CFWNC President Elizabeth Brazas.  The following Focus Area grants were approved by the Foundation’s Board Feb. 12.


Food and Farming


A grant of $25,500 will help Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy (SAHC) create the first agricultural business incubator for beginning and limited resource farmers in seven counties.



AdvantageWest was awarded $20,000 to implement and maintain a contract packing program at Blue Ridge Food Ventures (BRFV) on the AB-Tech campus in Enka.

Mayland College Community Foundation received $12,324 for the Mayland Berkshire Project, a pilot pig farming program for high school students in Mitchell, Avery and Yancey counties.

Early Childhood Development


Through its work in Early Childhood Development, the Foundation seeks to help young children reach their full potential.  The Southwestern Child Development Commission was awarded $150,000 over three years to establish a Nurse Family Partnership (NFP) program to serve Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties.

NFPs serve low-income, Medicaid-eligible first-time mothers.  The new WNC NFP program will entail the hiring of four nurses with B.S. degrees to serve the four-county area.  Each nurse will provide home visits to about 25 mothers throughout pregnancy and through their child’s second birthday.


Preserving Natural and Cultural Resources


Support for the environment and the arts lies at the heart of this focus area.  These investments in our communities are closely tied to economic development for communities and towns.


A $50,000 grant to the Exploring Joara Foundation (EJF) will enable the growing organization to hire an executive director to expand educational programming and heritage tourism in Burke County.  EJF supports the work at the Berry site, a Native American archeological dig at the native town of Joara.

The Blue Ridge Forever coalition of land trusts received $50,000 to assist in efforts to permanently protect 10 properties vital to the natural and cultural heritage of the region.  Blue Ridge Forever estimates that members will protect an additional 782 acres in 2014 in Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison and Watauga counties.

Wild South received $40,000 to accelerate the growth of its Cultural Heritage Program, which provides ongoing support for the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians and directly impacts the region by seeking permanent protection for cultural resources on public lands.  CFWNC funding will be used to hire a part-time Cultural Heritage Assistant to organize extensive cultural research on the history, heritage and story of the Cherokee and engage in identifying and prioritizing culturally sensitive areas for the new Forest Plan revision as part of the Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest Collaborative.


A $12,600 grant to the Cradle of Forestry in America Interpretive Association will fund the development of a mobile application to encourage and guide recreation activity in the most popular sections of Pisgah National Forest in Buncombe, Henderson and Transylvania counties.

The Community Foundation is a permanent regional resource serving eighteen counties in Western North Carolina.  The Foundation facilitates $11 million in charitable giving annually.  More information can be found at







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