Golden LEAF News — Year in Review | Eastern North Carolina Now

Press Release:

    Happy Holidays from the Golden LEAF Board and staff. We are coming to your inbox a day earlier than our normal Thursday update due to the Christmas holiday.

    While 2020 has been full of challenges, Golden LEAF has worked to develop creative solutions and provided resources to strengthen North Carolina's economy. Golden LEAF's mission is to increase economic opportunity in North Carolina's rural and tobacco-dependent communities. The Board and staff are dedicated to creating a meaningful and lasting economic impact on the state.

    In calendar year 2020, the Golden LEAF Board of Directors awarded funding to 112 projects totaling $62.7 million to support economic investment and job creation, agriculture, workforce preparedness and education, and recovery from disasters. The Foundation also provided $15 million for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Learn more about the Foundation's 2020 activities.


    In January and February 2020, Golden LEAF held two roundtables to highlight some of the successes of Foundation-supported programs. Grantees and those impacted by the projects shared their challenges and accomplishments with members of the Golden LEAF Board and the legislature.

    Learn more about the two roundtables.

Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW)

    To complement ongoing workforce development efforts, the Golden LEAF Opportunities for Work (GLOW) special initiative was launched in January 2020 - when unemployment was low and North Carolina was experiencing significant job growth. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted the economy in the state, employers still have a significant need to educate and train a qualified workforce. In June 2020, the Foundation awarded 10 projects totaling $3.49 million through the GLOW initiative.

    Learn more about the GLOW initiative.

Community-Based Grants Initiative (CBGI) in the Northwest Prosperity Zone

    In January 2020, the Golden LEAF Foundation launched its Community-Based Grants Initiative in the Northwest Prosperity Zone. This $11 million initiative supports the building blocks of economic growth in communities, generally targeting one Prosperity Zone at a time. As part of this initiative, the N.C. Rural Center provided coaching to cross-county project teams that identified untapped regional resources and helped eligible entities pursue economic development funding opportunities, such as the Golden LEAF CBGI. Although the kickoff meeting was held in person in February, the coaching sessions moved to a virtual format as a result of the pandemic.

    Learn more about the CBGI process.

COVID-19 Response

    On March 24, 2020, Golden LEAF announced $15 million in funding to launch a rapid recovery loan program for small businesses in response to economic losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the April 2020 Board meeting, Golden LEAF awarded $500,000 to the North Carolina Community College System to support community college students dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

    Learn more about the funding Golden LEAF deployed to support businesses and community college students affected by the pandemic.

Golden LEAF Scholarship Program

    The Board of Directors established the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program 20 years ago as a workforce strategy to broaden educational opportunities for students from rural counties. Since its inception, the Golden LEAF Foundation has awarded over $48.5 million to help more than 21,900 students from rural North Carolina attend the state's colleges and universities. The Foundation has two scholarship programs: one to help rural students attend the state's four-year colleges and universities and another to support rural students attending N.C. community colleges.

    Learn more about the Golden LEAF Scholarship Program.
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