Open Grants Program

Golden LEAF Foundation

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Next deadline: Apr 20, 2023 8:59pm PDT

Later deadlines: Jun 23, 2023 8:59pm PDT, Aug 25, 2023 8:59pm PDT, Oct 20, 2023 8:59pm PDT, Dec 22, 2023 8:59pm PST, Feb 23, 2024 8:59pm PST, Apr 20, 2024 8:59pm PDT

Grant amount: Up to US $200,000

Fields of work: Agriculture Job Creation Workforce Preparation & Job Readiness Medical Education & Professional Training Employment Services Academic Success & Enrichment Vocational & Trade Education Career/College Preparation Public Infrastructure Business Development Technology Access & Digital Literacy Rural Development Rural Health Care Show all

Applicant type: Government Entity, Nonprofit

Funding uses: Education / Outreach, Project / Program

Location of project: North Carolina

Location of residency: North Carolina

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NOTE:  The Open Grants Program requires submission of an initial Letter of Inquiry, which is a specific Golden LEAF form. An applicant may submit a full proposal in the Open Grants Program only if the applicant has received an invitation to do so. The dates above are intended to give applicants an indication of the dates by which a Letter of Inquiry or full proposal in those programs must be submitted to the Foundation to assure consideration at a particular meeting of the Golden LEAF Board; however, Golden LEAF staff will work diligently to present Letters of Inquiry and full proposals in those programs to the Board as quickly as possible, even if submitted after the dates outlined below.


The purpose of Golden LEAF is to fund projects that promise to bring significant economic improvement to the tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities of North Carolina. We welcome eligible entities to submit a grant application for a project that is consistent with Golden LEAF’s priorities.

Open Grants Program

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 long-term economy, especially in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities. In the Open Grants Program, Golden LEAF’s grantsmaking is focused in the areas of:

  • Agriculture, Economic Development, Workforce Preparedness, Healthcare, Education and Community Vitality


Below is a list of outcomes Golden LEAF has identified as priorities to achieve the goals of the Foundation. Competitive applications in the Open Grants Program would typically include one or more of these measures to assess project outcomes and success.

Economic Development


  • Investment in privately-owned property, plant & equipment
  • New jobs created
  • New wages paid
  • Percentage (%) by which wage exceeds county average
  • Jobs retained during performance period (that would have been lost were it not for the Golden LEAF-funded project or that are required by performance agreement)

Workforce Preparedness

  • Students completing for-credit/curriculum programs
  • Students trained (non-credit courses completed)
  • Incumbent workers trained (industry-specific, customized training courses completed)
  • Industry (third-party) credentials earned
  • Students earning at least one industry/third-party credential/certification
  • Students employed in field of study


  • Sales: $ revenues of new/ alternative products
  • Sales: $ revenues of existing products
  • New acres in production (fallow to production)
  • Purchases of NC agricultural products by producers, distributors or retailers ($ revenues)
  • Head of livestock in production


  • New jobs created
  • New wages paid
  • Jobs retained during performance period (that would have been lost were it not for the Golden LEAF-funded project or that are required by performance agreement)
  • Number of patient visits (non-emergency room)
  • Number of rural healthcare facilities with improved financial condition


  • Students achieving proficiency on EOC / EOG exams (Aggregate) (Math) (Science) (English)
  • Student Performance will Meet or Exceed Expected Growth (EVAAS)
  • High school on-time graduation
  • Golden LEAF Scholars who complete four-year college or university

Community Vitality

  • Dollars ($) invested in public infrastructure
  • Private investment resulting from Golden LEAF-supported project
  • Commercial hookups to public infrastructure
  • Residential hookups to public infrastructure
  • Business start-ups or expansions resulting from Golden LEAF-supported project
  • Broadband access: New fiber miles 

Characteristics of Competitive Proposals

Golden LEAF makes grants for projects that the Foundation’s Board of Directors believes have extraordinary merit and address the Foundation’s purposes as set forth in its Charter. In evaluating proposals, the Foundation looks for projects that will bring about tangible results for the targeted beneficiaries. The Foundation asks applicants to address the following questions when completing their proposals: (1) Who benefits from the project? (2) How do they benefit? (3) What difference does the project make in the community it serves? (4) How will the difference and benefit be measured and proven?

Most grants in this program are not expected to exceed $200,000. Since requests are likely to far exceed funds available, the Foundation will be looking for projects with the following characteristics. (This list is not intended to be all inclusive, nor is it a listing of all criteria that will be used in evaluating proposals.)

  • Projects that serve unmet needs that are clearly defined in communities.
  • Projects that have clear objectives and deliverables and are accompanied by a plan for evaluating the short-term and long-term impacts of the project, with a concentration on economic impact.
  • Projects that demonstrate a market demand for products or trainees.
  • Projects that leverage support from other sources, including funds that may be available through state or federal economic stimulus programs.
  • For projects developing new agricultural technologies and crops, those projects with clear and practical applications and market demand for the product, expected commercial viability within a short time frame, a plan for protecting the benefit of any intellectual property for North Carolina and North Carolina farmers, and a plan for outreach and deployment of new discoveries or research results to farmers are preferred.
  • Projects that result in job creation and retention in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities. Projects that include evidence of employers’ interest in hiring or retaining workers are preferred.
  • Programs to create, expand, and/or improve business activity in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities.
  • Programs that are collaborative in nature and/or are linked with or supported by existing multi-community, regional, or statewide programs and efforts.
  • Training/workforce preparedness initiatives that target specific job opportunities in new and expanding industries and businesses located or considering locating in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities or that promote job retention activities in tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities. Training programs supported by Golden LEAF must be advertised, open to the public and result in the attainment of transferable skills.
  • Projects that provide evidence of support, endorsement and demand by the communities or constituencies the project proposes to serve.
  • Projects that provide evidence of sustainability through the submission of business and feasibility plans, as applicable.

You can learn more about this opportunity by visiting the funder's website.


  • Governmental entities and  501(c)(3) nonprofit tax-exempt organizations that serve the people of North Carolina are eligible to apply.
  • Golden LEAF accepts applications from all communities in North Carolina;
    • however, funded projects must benefit tobacco-dependent, economically distressed, and/or rural communities.
    • Applicants can strengthen their proposals by identifying the direct positive effect(s) the project will have on those target communities.


  • We do not make grant awards to individuals or for-profit businesses.
  • Golden LEAF does not expect to provide support through the Open Grants Program to projects that would fall within the Foundation’s other program areas and initiatives.
  • Golden LEAF has also identified types of requests which typically are of low priority in its Open Grants Program. These include:
    • Endowments
    • Capital Campaigns
    • Construction Projects not tied to specific job creation and retention opportunities
    • Infrastructure Projects not tied to specific job creation and retention opportunities
    • Debt Relief
    • Revolving Loan Funds
    • Purchase of Land
    • After-School or Day Care Programs
    • General Employability Training Programs
    • General Use Community Centers/Facilities


This page was last reviewed January 17, 2023 and last updated January 17, 2023