In August 2020, the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council (NC BEC) was formed to lead NC IDEA in its programmatic and grant making ambitions to address the challenges of Black entrepreneurship in North Carolina. The NC BEC is launching its inaugural grant program, NC BEC ECOSYSTEM, with $500,000 in total funding to support and partner with organizations throughout the state executing on innovative and transformational ideas that will elevate Black entrepreneurship.

Download the Request for Proposal including all of the information below here.

The NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grant opportunity is for entrepreneur support organizations that support black entrepreneurs and black-owned businesses. This particular grant is not intended to fund the entrepreneurs and businesses themselves. NC IDEA has other grant programs (MICRO and SEED) that directly support startups.

 

Statement of Grant Purpose

The NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grant program is designed to:

  • Identify (and support) partners doing inspired things to serve the entrepreneurial aspirations and economic potential of North Carolina’s Black community
  • Encourage more organizations and individuals to support and participate in efforts to elevate Black entrepreneurship in North Carolina
  • Support and promote Black leadership of entrepreneurial support organizations
  • Better understand how we may (collectively) support more Black people in their ambition to start and build growth-oriented companies that will strengthen the economy of North Carolina
  • Provide a means for our organization to foster relationships, dialog and learning between all NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM and NC BEC ECOSYSTEM partners

The NC BEC ECOSYSTEM solicitation requires that proposals solely focus on helping Black entrepreneurs and growth-oriented Black-owned firms start and grow scalable businesses.

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 via this grant program, as other entities in the state can better address those needs.

Eligibility Criteria

We invite proposals from 501(c)(3) and for profit organizations within North Carolina that are in service to, or have programs specifically focused on, helping Black entrepreneurs and growth-oriented Black-owned firms start and grow scalable businesses. We are open to new programs and ideas that are being disruptive and driving change, as well as existing programs and initiatives. ALL grant dollars must be allocated toward specific programs and activities serving the Black entrepreneurial community of North Carolina.

The NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grant opportunity is for entrepreneur support organizations that support black entrepreneurs and black-owned businesses. This particular grant is not intended to fund the entrepreneurs and businesses themselves. NC IDEA has other grant programs (MICRO and SEED) that directly support startups.

 

The following entities are not eligible to be awarded an NC BEC ECOSYSTEM grant:

  • Endowments, capital campaigns or other fundraising events
  • Lobbying organizations, political parties or labor organizations
  • Individuals

Evaluation Criteria

This request for proposals is intentionally non-prescriptive and evaluation is subjective; at the sole discretion of the Foundation and the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council. Applicants are encouraged not to assume they will receive funding and not to represent or make other funding initiatives contingent upon winning a grant from this application.

NC IDEA does not presume how to best serve the Black entrepreneurial community of North Carolina. We have however, supported dozens of organizations around the state and have observed common practices with promising results that will factor into our evaluation. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Education and training (accelerator) programs wherein participants work specifically on their company, whilst following some curriculum or structure
  • Coaching and mentoring to help participants focus on long-term value creation, culture, work life balance and other founder related topics
  • Entrepreneurship competitions, Demo Days or Hackathons offering scholarships or prize money to participants (excluding overhead or indirect costs payable to run program on behalf of other organization)
  • Technical assistance for specific tasks:
    • Hiring
    • Marketing and sales
    • Social media
    • Intellectual property protection
    • Product development
    • Funding options
  • Networking communities of common entrepreneurial interest
  • Sharing learnings from all of the above and generally promoting entrepreneurship

Proposals will be subjectively evaluated using the criteria that follows. Other factors may be considered at the sole discretion of NC IDEA and the North Carolina Black Entrepreneurship Council.

Alignment           

  • Will the proposed grant outcomes further NC IDEA’s ambition to support Black individuals pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities?
  • Does the applicant, and their proposed program or activities, complement NC IDEA’s growing network of ECOSYSTEM partners?

Ability to Execute

  • Can the applicant’s team successfully execute the program or proposed activities?
  • Does the applicant’s team have deep knowledge of the challenges faced by Black entrepreneurs and have proximity to the problem?
  • Is the applicant’s executive leadership and board of directors reflective of the community being served?
  • What prior successes has the applicant’s team achieved?

Outcomes & Metrics

  • What are the specific outcomes proposed? e., what does “success” look like for this initiative?
  • Will milestones and metrics validate the outcomes?
  • How does the applicant plan to measure related metrics?

Sustainability

  • How has the applicant supported Black entrepreneurship in a meaningful way prior to now?
  • How will this program or proposed activities be sustained into the future – beyond the timeframe of the grant?

Leverage

  • To what extent will an award from NC IDEA be leveraged by other funds from the organization (or outside financial contributors)?
  • Will other resources (and/or partner organizations) complement the program or activities proposed?

Timing

  • Is this the right moment to be executing this program or these activities?
  • Are there other time-specific dependencies?

 

Timeline

NC BEC ECOSYSTEM Dates and Deadlines

 

October 5 
NC BEC ECOSYSTEM Grant Application Opens

October 23
Virtual Town Hall
JOIN at 12:00pm

November 2
NC BEC ECOSYSTEM Grant Application Deadline (by 5:00pm EST)

November
NC BEC Evaluation and Due Diligence

December 11
NC BEC ECOSYSTEM Award Notifications

 

Available Funding

Applicants may request any amount of funding up to but not exceeding $50,000. Scheduled grant payments should align with specific activities, and funding may be allocated according to milestones and scheduled payments over the course of one year.  NC IDEA does not allow grant awards to include indirect or overhead costs.

How to Apply

All interested candidates must apply online via the “Apply Now” link below. 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 NC BEC ECOSYSTEM Application Template; however, ALL final submissions are due via our online application portal by 5:00pm EST on Monday, November 2, 2020. NC IDEA will not accept late applications OR 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 similar programs). 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.

Questions? Contact ncbec@ncidea.org.

 

Through November 2nd at 5:00pm EST