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

Awards in the Open Grants Program will be for $500,000 or less.

For more information on how Golden LEAF evaluates Open Grants proposals, including detailed characteristics of competitive projects, please 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 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.

  • For instructions on how to access the new grant portal for the first time, click here and select the appropriate quick reference sheet:
    • New applicants, select and follow the instructions for “How to Create an Account”.
    • Former applicants using the same email address as for a prior application, select and follow the instructions for “How to Log In”.
  • If you already have an account in Golden LEAF’s new grant management system, click here to log in.
  • Click “Apply for Funding” then “Apply for a Grant” in the Open Grants Program section to access the application.

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.

Timeline

Golden LEAF staff will use its best efforts to bring Stage 1 and Stage 2 Applications before the Board as soon as possible.

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. Click here for the timeline.

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

June 20, 2024

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

August 1, 2024

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

August 22, 2024

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

October 3, 2024

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

October 24, 2024

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

December 5, 2024

Submitted via the online system by 11:59PM:

December 26, 2024

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

February 6, 2025

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 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.

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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Take the Funding 101 Quiz

Take the Funding 101 Quiz