Foundation Seeking Partners to Strengthen North Carolina’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

DURHAM, NC – June 27, 2018 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina, announced today that the organization is accepting proposals from organizations executing on innovative and transformational ideas strengthening North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystems.

Introduced in 2016, the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program is designed to identify and support partner organizations across the state doing inspired things to help entrepreneurs of high economic potential. The program fosters relationships, cooperation, dialog and learning between partners throughout the state, while better understanding how to collectively support more people in their ambition to start and grow the companies that will strengthen the economy of North Carolina.

“This second iteration of our NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program has been shaped by what we have learned from our first cohort of partners,” said Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA. “Over the last two years we have learned there are multiple ecosystems throughout the state with varying needs and opportunities to help people. Partnering with organizations that understand the unique needs of the communities they serve is more productive. Supporting activities and learning within the context of a statewide network of partners helps us share best practices and have greater impact statewide,” Ruhe concluded.

NC IDEA is particularly interested in proposals from organizations who serve under-resourced entrepreneurs building high potential firms. Being under-resourced may be due to factors of geography, gender, race, or limited economic means. High potential firms are companies that have the potential to grow into seven figure companies and/or employ more than 50 people within 5-7 years.

Organizations who primarily serve audiences of high technology, venture-backable businesses may apply but are advised that the number of grants targeted for that sector will be limited, due to the volume of groups that already serve such firms. Likewise, organizations working with small and lifestyle businesses are not the focus of this program, as we believe there are other entities around the state that are also serving these firms.

Applicants may request any amount of funding up to but not exceeding $100,000 of total funding over one year, or spread over three years. Grant award notifications are anticipated in mid-September. For detailed criteria and to apply, visit Final submissions are due Wednesday, July 25th at 5:00pm EST.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic advancement in North Carolina. Today, the organization fulfills this mission through multiple grant and assistance programs. NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM funds organizations across the state that execute creative programs to support entrepreneurs. Similarly, NC IDEA ENGAGE is a community-focused grant program supporting individuals and organizations that facilitate entrepreneurship activity. Over the last decade, the NC IDEA SEED program has awarded over $5.5M in non-dilutive grants to 132 high-growth companies across the state, and most recently awarded nearly $150,000 in 15 micro-grants through a pilot program. Since 2011, over 150 companies have participated in NC IDEA LABS, formerly Groundwork Labs, to guide founders developing an idea or product. NC IDEA SOAR, a program founded in 2012, supports female entrepreneurs leading scalable businesses in raising capital through mentorship, strategic advice and connections. NC IDEA LEAD, the Foundation’s newest program, provides leadership training for founders of high-growth companies. Learn more at