A golden opportunity that is more infrequent in the High Country than a blue moon is one that our nonprofit and governmental organizations should be preparing for now.

The Community-Based Grants Initiative, a group of grants given to build economic advancements and funded by the nonprofit endowment Golden LEAF, is a cyclical program that rotates through each of North Carolina’s “prosperity zones.” In 2020, that cycle lands in the Northwest and Sandhills zones, of which Watauga and Ashe are part.

Yet, although the timing may be right, grants are not guaranteed. The last such opportunity for Watauga was 2014-15 — and no funding was awarded to the county’s eligible nonprofits and government entities during that cycle. In other words, time is of the essence even though the letter of inquiry application process won’t be active until the fall. Plans must be organized and submitted to the county manager, who will choose which projects are pushed forward in the process.

To assist with opportunities for a portion of the multi-million dollar grant funding, the first meeting of the initiative in Northwest Prosperity Zone will take place Feb. 19 in Lenoir. For more information about the possibility of grant funding for your organization, visit www.ncruralcenter.org.

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