We believe that our commitment to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina is best achieved by working in partnership with others.


Statement of Grant Purpose

The NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program is designed to:

  • Identify (and support) new partners doing inspired things to help entrepreneurs
  • Provide a means for our organization to foster relationships, dialog and learning between ECOSYSTEM partners
  • Better understand how we may (collectively) support more people in their ambition to start and grow companies that will strengthen the economy of North Carolina
  • Encourage more organizations and individuals to support and participate in efforts to make North Carolina the best state in the nation to start and grow great companies

For our Fall 2020 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM solicitation, we are requiring that proposals focus on supporting “under-represented” entrepreneurs building scaleable businesses. “Under-represented” entrepreneurs are, for the purposes of this Proposal application, defined as:

  • Entrepreneurs that identify as Female, and/or
  • Entrepreneurs that identify as Minority (or Persons of Color), and/or
  • Entrepreneurs that are located in counties designated as “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” by the N.C. Department of Commerce

The proposal must focus on at least one of these three categories of under-represented entrepreneurs, but can aim to support more than one of the described categories.

It is not our intention to create funding dependencies with this grant program. This effort is intended to validate vital activities and demonstrate that continuing (supporting) those activities, beyond the period of the grant, would be in the interest of the communities served.

It is also not our intention to indirectly provide COVID-19 relief funds to entrepreneurs via this grant program, as other entities in the state can better address those needs.


Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria

Learn more about the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program, and see who is eligible and how applications are evaluated.


Available Funding

Applicants may request any amount of funding up to but not exceeding $150,000. Scheduled payments should align with specific activities, and funding may be allocated according to milestones and scheduled payments between 12 and 24 months.  NC IDEA does not allow grant awards to include indirect or overhead costs.




Fall 2020 Dates and Deadlines


September 8  
NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant Application Opens

October 9
NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Grant Application Deadline (by 5:00pm EST)

October – November
NC IDEA Evaluation and Due Diligence

December 4
NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Award Notifications


How to Apply

All interested candidates must apply online via the “Apply Now” link. The online application includes specific questions with character counts. Progress on applications can be saved and resumed and submitted at a later time. You may work offline using the Fall 2020 ECOSYSTEM Application Template; however, ALL final submissions are due via our online application portal by 5:00pm EST on Friday October 9, 2020. NC IDEA will not accept applications via email, fax, mail or in-person.

PLEASE NOTE: Submission of an application does NOT obligate the Foundation to make any grants. It is anticipated that many applications will be submitted, and few will be awarded.  (Historically, fewer than 20% of applicants have been selected as grant recipients in this program). If you do not receive a grant, please understand that our decision is not a reflection on the merit of your application or your organization. We receive more grant requests than we have the capacity to support, and therefore select the one/s we feel best meet our criteria. Due to the number of anticipated requests, should you be declined, we are unable to provide specific reasons/comments.


Application Currently Closed