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Learning Links

A grant to the Blue Ridge School in Jackson County purchased ukuleles for 6th-grade students. The school is small and remote and serves primarily low-income students. Because 6th-grade students don't have the option of learning band instruments, the ukulele band bridges a gap and provides an ensemble experience.

The Learning Links program offers grants up to $800 to public schools in order to provide "hands-on" creative learning projects to their students. The goal of this program is to increase students' enthusiasm for learning and staying in school, ultimately through graduation.

These grants are made possible by the Ben W. and Dixie Glenn Farthing Charitable Endowment Fund and the Cherokee County Schools Foundation Endowment Fund of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.

Deadlines and Dates

The application deadline is the last Friday in September.


Learning Links grants are offered to public schools in the following Western North Carolina counties: Avery, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford and Swain. Funded projects must take place between January 1 and June 1. Grant funds should be totally expended by June 1.


Learning Links projects must:

  • Involve students in projects of a "hands-on" nature. It is desirable that these experiential learning activities take place in settings beyond the classroom or in a learning environment that is unlike their normal daily classroom instruction.
  • Implement innovative, imaginative and creative approaches to teaching that enrich the educational experience.
  • Be aligned with the classroom's current curriculum.
  • Directly relate to the academic improvement of students.

Strong applications include:

  • Clearly defined and realistic project plans and activities. Do not use educational or technical jargon. Be as specific as possible about how the funds will be used.
  • Specifics regarding how the project will be implemented, necessary materials, time frame, people involved and completion date.
  • A detailed budget that is reasonable and logically tied to the project description.

Successful projects in the past have:

  • Involved parents and/or community volunteers
  • Been led by a dedicated teacher or team of teachers
  • Integrated curriculums or involved various age groups
  • Served a single classroom, grade level, or entire school. (Only one grant will be awarded per classroom. Sharing innovative ideas with other teachers is permissible.)

    Please note there is no maximum restriction on requests to fund the same project. Projects that have been funded previously will be reconsidered on their own merits each year they are submitted.

Funding Restrictions

  • There is no limit to the number of applications that may be submitted from each school. Each application form must be submitted by the lead teacher/project coordinator and approved by the school principal in order to be considered for funding.
  • All field trips must include before-trip preparation and after-trip use of the information. They should also include all students in the course of study.
  • Grants may be made to compensate experts who come to work with students, but may not pay teachers or staff. These experts must submit resumes or credentials to justify the requested expense.
  • Funds may not purchase equipment, videos/dvds, or furniture, unless these items are essential to the project and cannot be obtained otherwise. Additionally, grant funds cannot be used to cover the cost of items normally included in the school’s budget.
  • Items that are not typically funded include refreshments, rewards, or incentives.

    After the grant activities take place, a simple End-of-Grant (EOG) report is required to be completed in our online grant system.

How to Apply

1. Access Community Foundation Staff Assistance

The staff of The Community Foundation is available and eager to assist you as you develop your proposal. Lezette Parks is available via phone or email to provide personalized assistance to schools. This assistance is valuable in strengthening a school’s chance of success.

2. Submit A Learning Links Grant Application

Information about Learning Links will be submitted to the superintendents and principals of public schools in the eleven eligible counties before the end of August. Teachers must apply online. Grantseekers must complete the online grant application by 5 p.m. on the date of the deadline. If you have any questions please contact Lezette Parks.

Please click HERE to begin the online grant application process. 

3. Participate in the Review Process

Applications are screened for completeness, clarity and compliance with eligibility requirements. Grant proposals are evaluated by a volunteer committee and funding recommendations are approved by CFWNC. Funding decisions are announced in November.

Recent Learning Links Grants

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