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.

Priority Outcomes

Golden LEAF has identified quantitative outcomes for each priority area used to measure the success of a project in achieving the mission of Golden LEAF. Competitive applications will typically include projections for one or more of these measures to assess project success.

Information regarding priority outcomes for all Golden LEAF programs is available at this link.

Competitive Projects

Competitive applications for projects include requests for funds to:

  • Develop and implement a new workforce training program to meet demand from local employers
  • Implement a career pathway at a high school for a high demand field
  • Extend water, sewer, or road infrastructure to a site to enable industrial development that will create full-time jobs
  • Support the development of new crops, expand markets for agriculture products, or provide training for farmers.

If you are not sure if your project is a fit for this program, please contact Golden LEAF staff to discuss prior to submission of an application.

Amount Available

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

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

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 process consultation is available in the consultation section.

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 take the Funding 101 Quiz and 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.

STEP 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.

Applicants can return to an application previously started through the online portal below.

ONLINE STAGE 1 APPLICATION

RETURNING APPLICANTS

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.

STEP 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.

Consultations

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 on the Open Grants Consult page below. Applicants must also submit an addendum with the Stage 1 Application which will be available following the consultation.

OPEN GRANTS CONSULT

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.

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

June 23, 2022

Reviewed by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors no later than its regularly scheduled meeting on:

August 4, 2022

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

August 25, 2022

Reviewed by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors no later than its regularly scheduled meeting on:

October 6, 2022

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

October 20, 2022

Reviewed by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors no later than its regularly scheduled meeting on:

December 1, 2022

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

December 22, 2022

Reviewed by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors no later than its regularly scheduled meeting on:

February 2, 2023

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

February 23, 2023

Reviewed by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors no later than its regularly scheduled meeting on:

April 6, 2023

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

April 20, 2023

Reviewed by the Golden LEAF Board of Directors no later than its regularly scheduled meeting on:

June 1, 2023

VIEW DETAILED TIMELINE

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

Please see this link to a document with information regarding exceptions to required disclosure of public records applicable to the Golden LEAF Foundation.

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

Stay Connected

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Take the Funding 101 Quiz

Take the Funding 101 Quiz