Foundation Seeking Partners to Strengthen Infrastructure for North Carolina’s Under-Represented Entrepreneurs

 DURHAM, NC – September 3, 2020 – NC IDEA, a private foundation committed to supporting entrepreneurial ambition and economic empowerment in North Carolina, announced today that the organization will begin accepting applications on September 8th from organizations executing on innovative and transformational ideas to strengthen North Carolina’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, specifically in service to under-represented entrepreneurs.

NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM is designed to identify and support partner organizations across the state doing inspired things to help entrepreneurs. Working in partnership with others provides the opportunity to foster relationships and create dialog between partners, while allowing a better understanding of how we may (collectively) support more people in their ambition to start and grow companies that will strengthen the economy of North Carolina.

To date, the NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM grant program has awarded nearly $3.5 million to 35 strategic partners across the state. The program has primarily supported region-focused entrepreneurial ecosystem development efforts, in addition to some targeted efforts toward specific populations, such as the military community; or industry sectors, such as IoT.

“Our goal with the upcoming application cycle is to strengthen North Carolina’s entrepreneurial support infrastructure for identified, statistically under-represented populations,” said Ben Redding, Chief Financial Officer of NC IDEA and manager of the ECOSYSTEM program. “By intentionally supporting these entrepreneurs, we and our partners will help ensure that all North Carolinians are afforded the opportunity to reach their full entrepreneurial potential,” Redding added.

NC IDEA is accepting applications from nonprofit and for-profit organizations within North Carolina that help people start and grow high potential firms, i.e. firms with the potential to grow into a multi-million dollar company and/or employ more than 50 people within 5-7 years.  Specifically, for its Fall 2020 NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM solicitation, NC IDEA is requiring that proposals focus on supporting “under-represented” entrepreneurs building scalable businesses. “Under-represented” entrepreneurs are, for the purposes of this Proposal application, defined as: (1) entrepreneurs that identify as Female, and/or (2) entrepreneurs that identify as Minority (or Persons of Color), and/or (3) 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 populations of under-represented entrepreneurs, but can aim to support more than one of the described populations.

Applicants may request any amount of funding up to but not exceeding $150,000 of total funding. Grant payments should align with specific activities, and funding will be allocated according to milestones and scheduled payments over a 12-to-24 month period. For detailed criteria and to apply, visit Final submissions are due October 9th at 5:00pm EST. Grant award notifications will be sent on December 4th.

NC IDEA is an independent private foundation committed to empowering North Carolinians to achieve their entrepreneurial potential. Through our powerful combination of competitive grants and programs, and a network of strategic partners, we help entrepreneurs when they need it most. NC IDEA’s resources are highly competitive, enabling the foundation to support North Carolina’s most ambitious entrepreneurs. We believe entrepreneurs transform communities and view our work as a catalyst for positive change. Learn more at