Community Foundation of Western North Carolina

OVERVIEW: This Asheville-based funder supports early childhood development, food & farming, people in need, and natural & cultural resources in 18 counties in Western North Carolina.

FUNDING AREAS: Early childhood development, food & farming, people in need, natural & cultural resources

IP TAKE: This is a very active community funder with well-defined funding areas. But grant seekers should check the website regularly because those could change from year to year. Conveniently, the CFWNC also links to 12 other grantmaking funds it manages.

PROFILE: The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina is based in Asheville, North Carolina, and covers an 18-county region in the state. It seeks to inspire philanthropy and mobilize “resources to enrich lives and communities in Western North Carolina.” It was established in 1978 and has managed over $321 million in assets in recent times. In total, it has awarded over $200 million in nonprofit and public institutions grants, as well as scholarships for students. Current financial information can be viewed here.

This funder operates much like other community foundations and has over 1,000 funds under management. There are four big funding priorities: early childhood development, food and farming, people in need, and natural and cultural resources. To be eligible for one of this funder’s grant programs, an organization must serve one or more of these counties: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania, and Yancey.

CFWNC’s early childhood development support prioritizes raising awareness about the cause, supporting evidence-based development programs, and advocating for public policy changes. Food and farming grants bolster marketing for local food efforts, support new and transitioning farmers, increase fresh food access, and boost capacity building efforts. Foundation grants for people in need move through an annual grant cycle funded by the Janirve Legacy Fund, affiliates, fund-holders and discretionary dollars. Janirve Sudden and Urgent Need Grants are for up to $10,000 and go to human service nonprofits responding to unforeseen crises. Interestingly, the funder’s environmental and arts grantmaking programs are lumped into a single category.

Grant seekers can see a list of grant program opportunities here. Some opportunities are for the entire region, while others are county-specific. These grants range in size from $800 to up to $100,000. The deadlines for each of the dozen grant programs is listed on the community foundation website, along with links to learn more about the guidelines and cycles. Another opportunity is with the Pigeon River Fund, which was created in 1996 to improve water quality, expand public use, support fish and wildlife, and educate citizens. CFWNC administers this grant program to fund projects in Haywood, Buncombe, and Madison Counties.

Direct general questions to the staff at 828-254-4960 or via online form. Make a point to check the foundation’s Events page for upcoming grant application deadlines. Grant seekers can also learn about what the funder has recently supported by browsing through its news articles.


  • Search for staff contact info and bios in PeopleFinder (paid subscribers only.)