Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to apply for a grant from Golden LEAF?

Governmental entities and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations may apply for grants. Our funds must be used for charitable, scientific, educational, or tax-exempt public purposes. We do not make grant awards to individuals or for-profit businesses.

How do I apply for a Golden LEAF grant?

We encourage applicants to use our open door policy to learn more about our grant programs and to discuss proposal ideas with our staff.

If the proposal meets the requirements for an Open Grants Program grant, follow the Open Grants Program guidelines.

If the proposal meets the requirements for an Economic Catalyst Grant, follow the Economic Catalyst Grant guidelines.

Contact Golden LEAF program staff for more information about grant funding through our special initiatives.

What is the maximum or minimum grant amount?

There is no minimum grant amount. In the Open Grants Program, grants are not expected to exceed $200,000. There are no maximum grant amounts in the Economic Catalyst program. For information on other initiatives, please contact Golden LEAF program staff.

Why are individuals and businesses ineligible to apply for Golden LEAF grants?

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public charity. To maintain our tax-exempt status, our funds must be used for charitable purposes.

How does Golden LEAF define the rural, economically distressed, or tobacco-dependent regions of North Carolina?

Under our charter, Golden LEAF’s funding priority is to provide economic impact assistance to economically distressed or tobacco-dependent regions of North Carolina. In determining whether a proposal fits these criteria, we look at a variety of factors.

  • Economically distressed— Factors that Golden LEAF use to evaluate the economic status of a community include criteria set forth by the North Carolina Department of Commerce, which ranks each county based on an assessment of unemployment rate, median household income, population growth, ability to pay, and assessed property value per capita. Refer to the Department of Commerce’s Economic Distress designation for more information. Golden LEAF also considers applicants who make a strong case for economic distress based on factors other than those considered in the Department of Commerce’s rankings.  Golden LEAF also recognizes that a community may suffer from economic distress, even though the county in which it is located as a whole may not be similarly situated. See the NC Department of Commerce’s ranking of NC counties.
  • Tobacco-dependent— Golden LEAF uses a variety of criteria (provided by the NC Rural Economic Development Center in 2001) to determine tobacco-dependence, including: 1) tobacco receipts as a percentage of total agricultural receipts in a county, 2) tobacco receipts as a percentage of total income in a county, and 3) tobacco farms as a percentage of total farming operations in a county. If a county meets an established threshold in any of these areas, it is considered tobacco dependent. Golden LEAF also recognizes some counties are tobacco-dependent because of employment in tobacco manufacturing.

How much money has Golden LEAF received in payments from the tobacco settlement? How much has been awarded in grants?

Through June 2020, Golden LEAF has received $1,185,017,573.27 in payments as a result of the settlement of litigation brought by North Carolina and 45 other states against manufacturers of tobacco products. As of April 2021, Golden LEAF has awarded 1,932 projects, totaling more than $1.1 billion to nonprofit organizations and government entities throughout North Carolina.

What is the total amount of money Golden LEAF will receive from the settlement?

Golden LEAF no longer receives annual payments of funds through the settlement agreement, but has received an annual appropriation from the NC General Assembly for the past several years.

How much money is Golden LEAF expected to award in new grants in 2021-2022?

Golden LEAF has budgeted $39.5 million for new awards for fiscal year 2021-2022. Of this, the amount budgeted for the programs and initiatives is as follows:

  • $8.5 million Open Grants Program
  • $11 million Community-Based Grantmaking
  • $10 million Economic Catalyst
  • $10 million Site Development and Infrastructure Program

How do I apply for Golden LEAF Foundation scholarships?

Learn more about Golden LEAF Foundation scholarships by viewing the scholarships section of this website.

Should I contact someone at Golden LEAF before submitting an application?

There’s no requirement that you contact our staff before submitting a proposal, but Golden LEAF has an open door policy, and we welcome the opportunity to discuss project ideas at any time.

Will Golden LEAF fund buildings and other infrastructure projects?

While the Foundation has traditionally considered brick and mortar projects a low priority, some applicants have made a successful case for funding these types of projects in their communities. It’s important to demonstrate how your proposed building project relates directly to Golden LEAF’s funding priorities.

Water and sewer and other public infrastructure projects funded by Golden LEAF are often related to job creation activities by a specific company and funded through the Economic Catalyst Program. Learn more about the Economic Catalyst Program.

Will Golden LEAF provide funding for project overhead costs?

Golden LEAF does not fund overhead costs.

May an organization that submitted a proposal last year that was declined reapply this year?

Yes. We also encourage declined applicants to use our open door policy to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a proposal. In the Open Grants Program, an organization may not resubmit a proposal for a previously declined project for six (6) months after the declination. An eligible entity that has had a project declined may submit a proposal for a substantially different project at any time.

If I submitted a proposal last year that was approved, may I reapply this year?

Yes. We encourage past grantees to call our staff to discuss proposal ideas.

When are grant decisions made?

Please follow this link for information about the schedule for the Economic Catalyst Program.

Please follow this link for information about the schedule for the Open Grants Program.

For the initiatives not listed above, please contact Golden LEAF staff.

What are the exceptions to the required disclosure of public records and confidential information?

Click here for a detailed explanation of exceptions to the required disclosure of public records and confidential information.

What are low priority Golden LEAF projects?

  • Tourism, arts, or cultural resources
  • Shell/spec buildings
  • Emergency services including fire departments
  • General social services
  • Reimbursement for prior expenditures
  • Capital campaign or endowments
  • Housing
  • General maintenance and operational support
  • Infrastructure not related to economic development

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