Year in Review – Scholarship Program

Year in Review – Scholarship Program

The Board of Directors established the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program as a workforce strategy to broaden educational opportunities for students from rural counties. Since its inception, the Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded more than $55.2 million to provide more than 25,000 scholarships for students from rural North Carolina to attend the state’s colleges and universities. The Foundation has two scholarship programs: one to help rural high school and community college transfer students attend the state’s colleges and universities and another to support rural students attending N.C. community colleges.

As a result of the recently adopted strategic plan, Golden LEAF is working to enhance current scholarship offerings to continue to improve access to education and workforce training to support the long-term economic advancement of rural North Carolina.

Community Colleges
Golden LEAF awards funds to the North Carolina Community College System to disburse to participating colleges to provide scholarships for students from rural, tobacco-dependent or economically distressed counties.

Students are eligible to receive up to $2,250 per year for curriculum courses or up to $1,850 per year for continuing education programs. These award amounts have been increased over prior year limits in response to recommendations from the North Carolina Community College System Office. Scholarship funds can be used to cover the cost of attendance which includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, credentialing tests, transportation, and childcare. Students interested in applying for a Golden LEAF Scholarship to attend a North Carolina community college should contact the participating community college.

For more information on Golden LEAF’s community college scholarships, visit

Colleges and Universities
Each year, Golden LEAF awards 215 scholarships to high school and community college transfer students attending a college or university in North Carolina. In addition to scholarship funds, Golden LEAF provides additional optional benefits to scholars including leadership development and paid internships in rural North Carolina communities.

Starting in fall 2022, Golden LEAF scholarships will be increased from $3,000 per year for up to four years to $3,500 per year for up to four years. Current scholars will also receive increased awards. Total Golden LEAF Scholarship funding over four years will be $14,000. Applications for Golden LEAF’s college and university scholarships will open in early 2022. For more information on Golden LEAF’s college and university scholarships, visit

Leadership Development
The Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded $1.5 million to the Center for Creative Leadership to provide a leadership development experience for four-year Golden LEAF Scholarship recipients. Freshman students participating in the online leadership experience will receive hands-on leadership training from the Center for Creative Leadership, personalized support from highly trained executive coaches, credentials to add to their resumes, support from a network of peers, and a fresh perspective on how to positively impact their rural communities. This new experience builds on the success of an initiative already in place for rising sophomore, junior, and senior Golden LEAF scholars.

Rural Internships
Golden LEAF prioritizes internships as a way for four-year Golden LEAF scholars to connect with rural North Carolina as a professional and help increase the likelihood that, upon college graduation, the scholar will return to rural North Carolina to live and work. To help enhance the internship portion of the four-year component of the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program, the Golden LEAF Board approved a new internship opportunity. The enhanced internship opportunity will be in place for internship opportunities beginning summer 2022.

Read about some of Golden LEAF Scholarship Alumni spotlighted in the Golden LEAF newsletter in 2021:

Golden LEAF Scholarship Program

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