Open Grants Program

The Open Grants Program allows applicants to apply for Golden LEAF funding throughout the year. Eligible applicants are governmental entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations.

Priority Funding Areas

This program is for economic development projects aligned with the Golden LEAF priority areas. More details regarding Golden LEAF’s priority areas and priority outcomes are available at the links below and in this short video:

The Golden LEAF Foundation is committed to using the funds entrusted to it for projects that show the most potential for strengthening North Carolina’s economy, especially in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities.

Amount Available
Most awards in the Open Grants Program will be for $200,000 or less. For projects that possess some of the additional characteristics described below, Golden LEAF may make awards of up to $500,000 from this program. Most awards from this program will be $200,000 or less.

To determine which projects will be eligible for consideration for an award of more than $200,000, Golden LEAF requires that the project include one or more of these characteristics:

  • Higher level of funding will lead to significant outcomes
  • Result of a planning process involving multiple organizations and members of the community
  • Building on a history of success that allows a project to scale and significantly increase outcomes
  • Funding will enable or encourage compelling collaboration including: uncommon or innovative approaches or organizations in more than one county
  • Funding will leverage significant funding from other organizations
  • Applicant has limited resources
  • The project cannot be implemented in phases without compromising its outcomes

Applicants who wish to apply for more than $200,000 in funding from the Open Grants Program must complete a required consultation with Golden LEAF staff.  More information about the consultation is available here.

For more information on how Golden LEAF evaluates Open Grants proposals, including detailed characteristics of exceptional projects, please download the program guidelines, review the frequently asked questions, or contact Golden LEAF staff for assistance.

How to Apply
Presenting a project for review involves a two-stage application process. This two-stage review will help each applicant avoid investing time and resources in completing the full application for a project that is not likely to receive funding. We encourage all potential applicants to contact Golden LEAF staff prior to submitting a Stage 1 Application to learn more about Golden LEAF and the application process. Although an invitation to submit a Stage 2 Application indicates interest in learning more about a project, it does not indicate that funds will be awarded or the level of funding.

Consultation Required for Certain Applications

Applicants who plan to request funding in excess of $200,000 in the Open Grants Program must complete a required consultation with Golden LEAF staff prior to submitting a Stage 1 Application using the consultation form found here. Applicants must also submit an addendum with the Stage 1 Application which will be available following the consultation.

To request a consultation, please follow this link.

1) Applicants will complete an online Stage 1 Application. The Stage 1 Application requires basic information about the applicant, a brief description of the project and the outcomes expected, and an explanation of how Golden LEAF funds would be used. For projects that will continue after the conclusion of the requested funding, the application also requires information about how the program will be sustained.

To return to an application previously started, click here.

The Golden LEAF Board will review and determine which projects appear to meet Golden LEAF’s priorities for the Open Grants Program and are likely to be competitive for funding. The Board will select applicants to invite to submit a Stage 2 Application. An invitation to submit a Stage 2 Application indicates an interest in learning more about a project and does not guarantee funds will be awarded. Applicants not invited to submit a Stage 2 Application are declined at this point.

2) Invited applicants will complete an online Stage 2 Application for review and consideration for funding by the Golden LEAF Board. The Stage 2 Application will gather more detailed information about the applicant, including prior year audits and financials, and more detailed information about the project, how it will be implemented, and the outcomes expected.

Timeline
Golden LEAF staff will use its best efforts to bring Stage 1 and Stage 2 Applications before the Board as soon as possible and has established a timeline to provide applicants guidance on when applicants can expect to receive a decision regarding their submission. 

Generally, Stage 1 and Stage 2 Application decisions are made at two separate Golden LEAF Board meetings. The Golden LEAF Board meets in February, April, June, August, October, and December.

Applicants that intend to request funding in excess of $200,000 must complete a required consultation with Golden LEAF staff before submitting a Stage 1 Application. The deadline to complete that consultation is one week before the published Stage 1 Application submission date for each Board meeting. Please contact Golden LEAF staff well in advance of the consultation deadline to ensure there is time to complete the required consultation.

We encourage all potential applicants to contact Golden LEAF staff prior to submitting a Stage 1 Application to learn more about Golden LEAF and the application process.

Please download more detailed program guidelines and review frequently asked questions.

Declined Proposal Policy
When the Golden LEAF Board has declined to invite a Stage 2 Application for a project or has declined to fund a project, applications for support of the same or a substantially similar project may not be resubmitted for a period of six months from the date of the Golden LEAF Board’s decision. This does not preclude an applicant from submitting a Stage 1 Application for a different project.

Public Records Act

Make Your Proposal Competitive

Presenting a project for review will involve a two-step process.

Before you apply, download our resources to understand what makes a great proposal.

After you read through each program description, feel free to contact a member of the program staff if you have further questions about eligibility or program requirements or priorities.

Learn More

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