Celebrating Entrepreneurial

Your activities engage communities. Our ENGAGE grants support your efforts to bring like-minded folks together to celebrate and promote entrepreneurship.

Through NC IDEA ENGAGE, we help entrepreneurship advocates offer programs, pilot new initiatives and organize virtual and in-person events that bring people together to support entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurial ecosystems and economically strong and diverse communities go hand in hand.

NEED FUNDING for your program?

Applications Accepted on a Rolling Basis

Generally speaking, funding will range between $1K – $5K, with select activities being invited to propose larger programs requiring greater resources. Qualifying requests need to be submitted no less than 60 days prior to the proposed activity.

Eligible applicants for NC IDEA ENGAGE would include:

  • Non-profit or for-profit entrepreneur support organizations
  • Local governments, colleges and universities
  • Capital providers such as seed stage funds and angel groups
  • Service providers that support entrepreneurs
  • Individuals, entrepreneurs and/or their companies

Eligible activities will promote entrepreneurship as the primary goal and may include, but are not limited to:

  • Requests for event sponsorship, including virtual events
  • Funding to support pilot programs or new initiatives that are focused on and centered around entrepreneurship
  • Educational programming on a variety of topics focusing on entrepreneurship or ecosystem building
  • Networking, mentoring, advising and match-making activities or events
  • Organization or community-wide implementation of Ice House Entrepreneurship Program. *Applications will be accepted from trained facilitators only*
  • Entrepreneurship competitions, Demo Days, Hackathons, Startup Weekends, etc.
  • Events organized on a specific entrepreneurship theme or target demographic
  • Entrepreneurial activities or programming in underserved areas, such as Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties.

NC IDEA ENGAGE does NOT fund the following:

  • Business grants. Companies seeking funding for business operations should consider our MICRO and SEED grant programs
  • Long-term engagements (NC IDEA ENGAGE grants serve to get your program or event off the ground, but due to limited budget, you cannot expect ongoing funding)
  • Funding for equipment or overhead costs
  • Sponsorship for events that have been ongoing for more than 3 years
  • Proposals that do not align with NC IDEA’s mission

Applications are reviewed on a regular basis by the NC IDEA staff. Applicants are expected to provide as much detailed budgetary information as possible in the application, as well as concrete milestones that will determine the success of the program/proposal. Proposals that align with NC IDEA’s mission to support diverse and inclusive entrepreneurship, specifically companies with ambitions to grow to more than 50 employees and millions of dollars of revenue, are more likely to be considered. Proposals that are selected to receive funding are required to report on the achievement of milestones and are expected to provide data back to NC IDEA after the grant period. Please keep in mind, although your submission may appear to fall under our eligibility criteria, funding for proposals is limited, and awards are at the sole discretion of NC IDEA.

Through our diverse and inclusive community-focused grant program, NC IDEA ENGAGE, we help individuals and organizations by supporting new programs, pilots, community events and activities that bring like-minded folks together to support entrepreneurship activity in North Carolina.

The NC IDEA ENGAGE grant program allows us to learn about and become aware of entrepreneurial activity throughout the state and support those efforts to create and build connections that will make a stronger statewide ecosystem. Communities that enjoy entrepreneurially led economic development are investing in future economic stability and greater quality of life – for everyone. If you have a program, activity or need to support entrepreneurs and companies who have ambitions to grow and positively impact your community, we invite you to apply for an NC IDEA ENGAGE grant. We accept applications on a rolling basis.

When is the grant cycle open?

  • NC IDEA ENGAGE accepts applications on a rolling basis. Submissions are reviewed on a monthly basis.

How far in advance should I apply for a grant?

  • Please apply at least 60 days ahead of your program or event.

Can NC IDEA sponsor my organization’s event?

  • NC IDEA accepts requests for event sponsorship via the NC IDEA ENGAGE Grant program. Funds from the ENGAGE Grant can be used for sponsoring events that align with NC IDEA’s mission and fall within the eligibility criteria.

Can I apply for the ENGAGE Grant to help fund my startup or small business?

  • The ENGAGE Grant does not support operation costs for startups or small businesses. Your company may be eligible for NC IDEA MICRO or SEED grants. Many of our partners may be able to assist you as you grow your business. You should also contact your local SBC or SBTDC for technical assistance.

When can I expect a decision regarding my application?

  • You will receive an automatic confirmation once your application has been submitted. If you did not, please contact programs@ncidea.org for assistance. Application decision notifications will be sent within 4-6 weeks of submitting an application.

I have already received an ENGAGE Grant for my event/program. Can I apply again?

  • The NC IDEA ENGAGE Grant is not meant to be long-term funding for any event or program. One of the goals of this program is to help get pilot programs and events off the ground to help build community support. An applicant is eligible to receive funding for the same event or program up to three times if in good standing. Current grantees are considered in “good standing” if they do not have any overdue requirements. This does not mean that repeat funding is guaranteed. Due to limited budget, applicants should not expect ongoing or repeat funding for projects that have previously received an ENGAGE Grant and applicants are encouraged not to assume they will receive funding and not to represent or make other funding initiatives contingent upon receiving a grant. If you have questions about applying for more than one ENGAGE Grant, please contact the Program Manager.



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