Golden LEAF announces $12.2 million in awards, welcomes new Board members at April Board meeting

Golden LEAF announces $12.2 million in awards, welcomes new Board members at April Board meeting

On April 2, 2020, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors announced $12.2 million in funding to support projects through the foundation’s Community-Based Grant Initiative in the Sandhills Prosperity Zone, its Open Grants Program, its Community College Scholarship Program, and its Disaster Recovery Grant Program.

“Golden LEAF is dedicated to the long-term economic advancement of North Carolina,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President, Chief Executive Officer. “In this time of uncertainty, it is important for our Board and staff to be a steady hand in continuing to provide funding to our nonprofits and governmental entities who support North Carolina’s economy in the communities we serve.”

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors approved $8.9 million to support the following 15 projects in the Sandhills Prosperity Zone. These projects will support workforce development, economic development, water/sewer infrastructure, and healthcare infrastructure in the Sandhills.

Bladen County

  • $200,000 to Bladen Community College to support the education and training of nursing students that will resulting in higher retention, completion and NCLEX pass rates by providing dedicated and expanded access to technology for remediation in health sciences and preparation for changes in nursing licensure testing.
  • $800,000 to the County of Bladen to support the construction of a paved driving pad and facilities for a new commercial truck driver training program.

Columbus County

  • $500,000 to support the County of Columbus’s Entrepreneurial & Business Development Center which will support new business startups and existing small businesses by offering low-cost shared office space and entrepreneurship and business management training and services.
  • $500,000 to support Southeastern Community College’s nursing and health technologies program by providing equipment and supplies to create a simulated hospital environment for nursing and health sciences students to increase retention and completion rates.

Cumberland County

  • $461,200 to support the Cumberland County Hospital System, Inc.’s Center for Medical Education and Research by providing technology for the main classroom, auditorium, and learning space at the new building that houses its physician residency program which will grow from 110 residents to 305 residents over 3 years.
  • $961,200 to support Fayetteville Technical Community College’s healthcare workforce training program by renovating and equipping an existing space as a dedicated simulation suite to increase enrollment in its nursing program and improve nursing student retention.

Hoke County

  • $1,400,000 to support the County of Hoke’s economic development efforts by extending county sewer services to an undeveloped area along HWY 401 to support development that is expected to bring new jobs to the area.

Moore County

  • $680,000 to Sandhills Community College Foundation, Inc. to construct and equip a Sandhills Community College training center that will house new programs in construction, construction management, HVAC and plumbing trades.

Robeson County

  • $201,496 to the Robeson Community College Foundation, Inc. to expand the HVAC/Refrigeration program at Robeson Community College by providing equipment to train students with skills to work on complex HVAC/R systems, components and technologies required by industry.
  • $500,000 to the Southeastern Regional Medical Center to support construction to expand its cancer center to accommodate a second linear accelerator and permanent PET scanner resulting in creation of 21 jobs in the short term and an additional 12 jobs as patient volume grows over three years.

Sampson County

  • $1,000,000 to Sampson Community College Foundation, Inc. to renovate an existing building to house Sampson Community College’s Trade Center and expand vocational training opportunities in electrical, HVAC, and masonry trades.
  • $500,000 to the Tri-County Community Health Council, Inc. to support the renovation of its Newton Grove campus to expand capacity to serve more patients and create 22 new jobs, including four healthcare providers.

Scotland County

  • $500,000 to St. Andrews Presbyterian College to create a training lab to meet accreditation requirements for its new Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy Assisting programs.


  • $300,000 to the County of Cumberland to support personnel, technology, and programming to implement a nursing student retention model and to train educators and administrators from school districts, community colleges and universities in the Sandhills Region to implement the model.
  • $480,000 to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke Foundation, Inc. to support the University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s Sandhills Entrepreneurship Engagement Network (SEEN) to foster new startups, expand the business services offered to entrepreneurs, and connect entrepreneurs to best practices, collective events, resources and each other.

Golden LEAF’s Community-Based Grants Initiative is a competitive initiative that focuses on grantmaking in a region annually and is designed to identify projects that are ready for implementation and have the potential to have a significant beneficial effect. The CBGI culminates with funded projects that address the areas of economic development, agriculture, workforce preparedness and education, infrastructure, or health care infrastructure. Awards are limited to up to three projects per county and total no more than $1.5 million per county. Regional projects are also considered under this program with a maximum of $1.5 million per regional project.

The Golden LEAF Board of Directors also voted to approve $530,466 in funding to support the following Open Grants Program projects:

  • $199,280 to support Fayetteville State University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Hub by supporting building upfit and programmatic funds to expand services offered to small businesses with growth potential.
  • $185,994 to Johnston Community College Foundation, Inc. to support Johnston Community College’s fabrication program by providing equipment and training, and opportunities for middle and high school students to learn about careers in the field.
  • $145,192 to Lexington City Schools to provide funds to implement a cybersecurity training program.

Golden LEAF’s Open Grants Program is for economic development projects in the areas of economic investment and job creation, workforce preparedness and education, agriculture, and community vitality. Grant awards do not exceed $200,000 under the Open Grants Program.

The North Carolina Community College System was awarded $1,500,000 to support scholarships to provide funding for rural students from tobacco-dependent or economically distressed counties to attend participating North Carolina community colleges. Curriculum students can receive up to $2,250 per year, and continuing education students can receive up to $1,000 per year. Up to $500,000 of the funds are immediately available to be used for scholarships to eligible students in need as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), with the other scholarships to be awarded during the 2020-2021 school year.

Since its inception, the Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded over $47 million to help more than 21,900 students from rural North Carolina attend the state’s colleges and universities. Golden LEAF has two scholarship programs: one for students to attend the state’s community colleges and one to help students attend the state’s four-year colleges and universities. Golden LEAF Scholarships are available to students from qualifying counties, who demonstrate financial need, to help them attend college at participating North Carolina public or private institutions or community colleges.

The Board also approved the following Disaster Recovery Grant Program projects totaling $1,217,410.25:

  • $25,000 to the Town of Autryville to assess stormwater infrastructure damaged as a result of increased flooding following Hurricane Florence.
  • $259,047 to the Town of Clarkton to enable replacement and elevation of wastewater infrastructure damaged as a result of Hurricane Florence.
  • $200,000 to the City of Clinton to repair and improve the levee surrounding the wastewater treatment plant. The levee was compromised following Hurricane Matthew and further deteriorated as a result of Hurricane Florence.
  • $154,056.48 to Mt. Olive AME Zion Church in New Bern to support repair of the building damaged as a result of Hurricane Florence.
  • $168,694 to the Town of Turkey to repair stormwater infrastructure damaged as a result of Hurricane Florence.
  • $313,796 to the Village of Walnut Creek to repair and improve a pump station flooded as a result of Hurricane Florence.
  • An increase of $56,816.77 to the Town of Bolton to repair stormwater infrastructure damaged as a result of Hurricane Florence.
  • An increase of $40,000 to the Town of Parmele to address increased costs for replacement of the maintenance garage damaged as a result of Hurricane Matthew.

The Disaster Recovery Grant Program is funded through appropriations by the State of North Carolina to the Golden LEAF Foundation to make grants to governmental entities and 501(c)(3) nonprofits to repair or replace infrastructure and equipment damaged or destroyed by Hurricanes Matthew, Florence, Michael, and Dorian. To date, Golden LEAF has awarded $95 million in disaster recovery projects from the $114.5 million in state appropriations for the program.

Over two decades, the Foundation has funded 1,838 projects totaling $915 million. Golden LEAF’s 15-member Board of Directors is appointed by the Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House. Today, Ralph Strayhorn of Charlotte and Brian Raynor of Eastover were welcomed as the newest members of the Board. Mr. Strayhorn has a long history in banking. Mr. Raynor works in the paving industry. Both were appointed by the Speaker of the House.

Stay Connected

Stay connected with Golden LEAF by signing up for our e-newsletter. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.